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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 16 June 2014

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Funding for mainstream schools

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Cabinet of recent changes to the way in which funding to support pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) is allocated to schools.

Recommendations

1.         To note the arrangements made to delegate responsibility for and funding to support pupils with special educational needs to the schools they attend.

2.         To refer to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and invite them to consider a monitoring, evaluation and review up-date in one year's time.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To make members aware of recent changes.

2.         To enable members to scrutinise arrangements to support our SEN pupils in primary schools.

Background

3.         Funding to support pupils presenting with SEN in primary schools was previously held centrally within the Directorate of Learning and Skills, amounting to approximately £700, 000 (known locally as the Learning Support Assistant SEN Budget). The allocation to schools to support individual pupils was made via a SEN Panel to which schools made evidentially based representations for additional resource and support for individual pupils. The SEN Panel is advised by the Lead Officer for Inclusion, supported by Headteachers and admin staff.

4.         Support usually comprised an allocation of additional support time from Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) centrally employed through the Directorate for Learning and Skills.

5.         Schools are responsible for the success of all their learners and the previous arrangements were not consistent with this reality. There are potential benefits from schools having greater responsibility for all the resources and staff allocated for their pupils.

6.         There were approximately 120 Learning Support Assistants directly employed in this manner who worked in schools. The council administered employment contracts, sickness absence management processes and sickness cover, salaries and all HR related services, relating to these staff.

 

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         Following extensive consultation with schools, the centrally held budget previously used for funding individual pupil support in primary schools was delegated to primary schools from 1st April 2014.

8.         Schools have become the direct employers of the LSAs working with their pupils.

9.         The previous SEN Panel has been replaced by the Additional Needs Fund (ANF) Panel which is responsible for considering applications made by schools and determining appropriate levels of support. The Panel is organised by Headteachers, supported by the Principal Educational Psychologist. The panel has responsibility for managing the ANF Budget and supported decision making. (Appendix 1: ANF Terms of Reference)

10.      Membership: the Panel includes:

 

- a designated Chair (Headteacher)

- 2 Headteachers representative from each cluster

- the Principal Educational Psychologist

- a member of the LA Complex Needs Assessment Team

- Lead Officer for Inclusion or a senior member of the School Improvement and Inclusion Service (SIIS)

 

11.      The role of the panel is to discuss and moderate potential submissions for ANF.  The panel will therefore need to consider whether a particular case warrants additional resources and that all criteria have been met. As there is clear SEN Guidance Criteria to inform this decision making, this process should be an objective one.

12.      Most employer responsibility for LSAs supporting individual pupils have transferred from the Local Authority to the school. Terms and conditions of contracts have been unchanged. Temporary contracts have continued, while the need of the child remains.

13.      From the date of transfer LSAs became subject to the Policies and Procedures that have been adopted by the Governing Body of the school in which they work. Examples are Disciplinary Procedure, Grievance Policy, Absence Management Policy etc - this list is not exhaustive.

14.      The Project Management Team in the School Improvement and Inclusion Service were supported by an effective Headteacher Task and Finish Group throughout the development and implementation of the changes and all Headteachers were consulted through their regular cluster meetings.

15.      All LSAs were consulted via pre-arranged meetings, allowing time for questions and answers etc

16.      Trade Unions were consulted throughout the entire programme and have helped shape the nature of the on-going work.

17.      The first ANF Panel took place on 1st Ma 2014.

18.      The functioning of the ANF Panel will be closely monitored throughout the first year according to the Monitoring, Evaluation and Review (MER) process appended. (Appendix 2: MER Cycle)

 

Resource Implications (Financial, local, Employment)

19.      The Additional Needs Fund consists of £700, 000 delegated to schools plus 5% (£35, 000) contributed to schools from within their existing budget, the total value of the ANF is therefore £735,000. As outlined in paragraph 8 above, the ANF panel will determine the appropriate level of support for each application. The value of the support agreed is met from the ANF and attached to the school concerned, the school employs the necessary support to meet the agreed provision. In the event the budget should be underspent in any year the balance at the end of the financial year will be carried forward to offset future potential overspends; any overspend would be charged to schools in relation to their allocation.

 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20.      None in this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21.      Delegated funding will be used in compliance with the SEN Code of Practice for Wales.

Crime and Disorder Implications

22.      None in this report

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

23.      The SEN Criteria document has been established to ensure that all requests are dealt with in a fair and equitable manner.

Corporate/Service Objectives

24.      The need to support our most vulnerable learners is a key priority in the Community Strategy, the Corporate Improvement Plan and Directorate Service Plan.

Policy Framework and Budget

25.      The recommendations in this report are within existing Policy and Budget Framework

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

26.      Not required

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

Estyn Common Inspection Framework

SEN Code of Practice

 

 

Contact Officer

Lynette Jones, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

 

Officers Consulted

David Davies, Lead Officer for Inclusion

Anne Jones, HR Officer

Ian Teagle, Finance Manager

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Chief Learning and Skills Officer

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