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SEND Developments

SMBC High Needs Block

Deficit Recovery Update Newsletter 1

March 2020

Welcome to this first issue of Solihull’s High Needs Deficit Recovery update newsletter. The deficit recovery plan is something that will involve a wide range of people, from council services, education settings, and external service providers such as health, parent representatives and elected members.

The recovery plan development and implementation will be a very large and complex process; this newsletter is intended to keep all of our colleagues and partners informed of progress. The newsletter will provide a brief update which is intended to give an overview of developments in addition to the more detailed communications you may receive within your role contributing to the recovery plan.

A quick reminder of why we need a recovery plan

In common with most local authorities, between 2015 – 2019 Solihull saw a significant increase in the number of pupils with Education, Health and Care plans, and spending on support services. For the same period there was a £5.6 million increase in payments to schools (independent, out of borough and mainstream schools) to support children with special educational needs.

For the year 2020/21 we have a forecast overspend of £5.6 million (+/- £500k).

The local authority has to submit to the Department for Education a recovery plan to achieve a balanced budget, within three years, by June 2020.

The plan so far

The plan is divided into five strands and within each strand there will be a number of action plans. The detailed plans within each strand are still under development but to date are:

Strand 1 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Commissioning Strategy

  • Plan to create more specialist placements with existing school partners
  • Build an autism special free school
    • Department for Education have approved the bid.
    • A site has been identified in the north of the borough
    • Proposals from sponsors have been assessed by the council and the Department for Education, and the Secretary of State is expected to announce the successful Trust by the end of March.

Strand 2 Inclusion Strategy

  • Solihull’s Code for Inclusion, has been co-produced with partners last year.
  • Further work involves drawing up an action plan to remove/ameliorate barriers to inclusion in mainstream settings.

Strand 3 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – processes

  • Advice process
    • (Information from other agencies sent to the Statutory Assessment and Review Team to carry out an Education, Health and Care Plan assessment)
  • Co-production of Education, Health and Care Plans
    • (Arrangements for multi-agency meetings as part of an Education, Health and Care Plan assessment)
  • Placements
    • (Process for placing pupils in the educational setting most able to meet their needs and negotiating best value)

Strand 4 Review of current and future support service provision

  • The plan has been initiated with a view to trigger key activity in years 2 and 3, further activity needs to follow development of strands 2 and 3.

Strand 5 Funding Strategy and Planning

  • Recovery Plan and Financial Model
    • This was reported to, and approved by Full Cabinet on the 13th February 2020.
  • Financial Modelling
    • The report included the first version of the financial plan based on a series of assumptions. This will be refined over the next few months as options develop.
  • Formal Recovery Plan
    • This will be required by the Department for Education (DFE) by June 2020.

Forthcoming Activities

  • A reference group of head teachers has been established and is meeting to discuss progress on the High Needs Block Recovery plan
  • Interviews to be held to appoint of new Team Manager for the Statutory Assessment and Review Team (StART).
  • Update report was discussed by Councillors (Cabinet) in February.
  • Recruitment process for new Assistant Director for SEND 0- 25 has been completed and Tim Browne starts in April
  • Further workshops to take forward the development of our new SEND Strategy for Solihull, with a draft for consultation expected by the end of April.
  • Meetings will be held to support parents / carers to re-establish a Parent Carer Forum.
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