We need to talk about the introduction of the Ready Reckoner for EHCPs from April 2019

Join the discussion

We here at SGlosPC are trialling something new when it comes to being heard and making your views known. We really, really want to know your thoughts and views. We often get in touch with you about consultation events. As important and fundamental as they are, they can for some be offputting. They can come with many documents in Local Authorityese, a language not many of us are proficient in. Easy read versions might not be released and ready in time for the event you attend and they can for some be offputtingly formal or too structured and facillitated leaving little room for feeling like your voice is heard. That said, for others they are ideal .

So what is this new thing you are trialling?

We are holding our first discussion group so we can get together and discuss the Ready Reckoner being introduced over a three year period starting with all new EHCPs from April 2019. We imagine that you, like us have many questions and so have asked that someone attend from the local authority to explain to us:

  • What is the Ready Reckoner

  • What it will look like and how it will be used.

  • Answer any questions that we have and listen to our concerns.

March 28th 2019 6:45 PM - 9 PM Bailey’s Court Activity Centre

Our group discussion will be in a relatively informal Q&A style with tea, coffee and biscuits. We will have a quick talk at the beginning to explain theReady Reckoner, what it will look like and how it will be used. It goes without saying of course, because of the wonderful community that we are, that it is a space where eveyone can respectfully ask questions, hear full responses and be heard.

We have been listening to the concerns raised within our closed Facebook group and so got in touch with the head of finance Mustafa Salih who has agreed to attend our group to answer questions and address concerns. We wanted to share with you all his response.

As the Head of Finance with responsibility for this area I was really struck by the responses and discussions I had with parents and carers of South Gloucestershire SEND pupils and want to make sure that as far as is possible the Council puts in place support for pupils with SEND that is of the highest quality and effectiveness and is built on a partnership approach with parents/carers and other stakeholders.

That’s why I thought it important to have 2 representatives from the Parents/Carers Forum on our High Needs Working Group which is responsible for developing a sustainable strategic approach to SEND spending across the Council.

In terms of the Ready Reckoner I want to ensure that approach is continued and hope the following will offer you this reassurance:

1. The Ready Reckoner is being implemented to provide a transparent way for assessing the appropriate level of top-up funding a school will receive to support the provision identified in each individual EHCP. The top-up identified will be appropriate, transparent and reasonable for the school to provide the support identified in the individual EHCP. This top-up assessment for individual EHCPs will not be driven by any target saving. Any savings figures in the report you referenced are purely notional they are not “target” savings as such. They are referring to the fact that our level of top-ups are significantly higher than all other comparable local authorities and so it seems reasonable to anticipate that setting each individual EHCP Top-Up at a transparent, reasonable and appropriate level may reduce the overall level of spending on top-ups at a local authority wide level. We also plan on ensuring that schools are able to demonstrate how the top-up is actually being spent and identify the resulting impact on the pupil’s development.

2. The Ready Reckoner is being rolled-out over the longest timescale we consulted on i.e. three years. During the rest of 2018/19 it will only be used for new EHCPs. From 1 April 2019 the plan is to extend this to include all end of key stage annual reviews. This gives us time and scope to make sure it is implemented appropriately and that it is fit for purpose. Importantly we want to make sure The Parent Carers Forum is involved in the roll-out and ongoing development of the Ready Reckoner and Duane is setting up Quality Assurance meetings with yourself where you or your nominees will be directly involved in reviewing samples of individual top-up assessments using the Ready Reckoner. This will ensure you are able to assess and report on its appropriateness. Any concerns raised will be reviewed and any appropriate changes to the Ready Reckoner will be implemented asap.

3. The Ready Reckoner is only one element of a broader programme of improvements the Council is working on. The Council has taken a decision not to transfer out any funding from mainstream school budgets in 2019/20. This maximises school budgets and will help to maximise the £6000 each school is expected to contribute to the first £6000 of SEND support for individual pupils. In addition we are investing £1m across all schools for early intervention cluster funding for pupils on SEND Support. This further boosts the availability of funding for schools to provide that first £6000 of support and crucially provide funding at the earliest opportunity for pupils with SEND. There are a number of other initiatives being worked on as well.

Happy to attend a meeting to answer any questions

Thank you to Mustafa for agreeing to attend. We look forward to being able to ask you questions and tell you of our concerns!

An update on the High Needs Working Group.

As Mustafah mentions in his email to us, two parent carer rep volunteers have agreed to attend the High Needs Working Group meeting to represent all the views of Parent Carers. We were invited to attend following the School and SEND budget Strategy 2019 -2020 consultations. Our reps have different areas of experience, one in finance and the other in communications.

So far there has been two whole group meeting and one smaller focused meeting looking in detail at the area of communications that our reps have attended. So far, some of the themes that have been raised by our reps and other group members in discussions are:

  • How there is a large area of work to be done on buidling trust between our community and the local authority.

  • A large piece of work to be done looking into building trust and knowledge amongst parents carers as to the lower level SEN support processes available in mainstream schools.

  • A need to define what good SEN support looks like and how this is communicated to schools.

  • How we can hold schools to account through means such as Fair Access when they fall short of expectations. Bring your questions about Fair Access to our event and we hope to share more information in the future.

  • How also to commuicate what parents can expect from effective SEN support and what to do if a school is not meeting best standard

  • If SEN support functions well at lower level will costs with be reduced at higher levels due to needs being met with effective early interventions.

  • Parents and carers need transparency and information about service thresholds and eligibility criteria

  • A need for myth busters and clear transparent information and explanations e.g the 6K notional SEND budget

  • A need to explore the contributions made by health and social care to the EHCP process and funding of provision.

  • A need for stark briefings for CEOs of the Local Authority & Clinical Commissioning Group to highlight the need for greater financial input from health with a view to free/create budget for successful lower level interventions. 

  • More effective health services and support in the area of mental health to lessen the burden on education currently trying to cope with the consequences of a mental health system that isn't meeting the needs of children and young people. 

So these are the concerns that we have been raising on your behalf so far and we have been listened to, all of these have been formally fed back to the whole working group. We will keep on representing your views and thoughts but would love for you to join us in the discussion on the 28th of March.

We are really looking forward to being able to welcome you . Don’t forget to bring your questions for South Glos Council’s Head of Finance Mustafa Salih.