Late last week, Ofsted released its report on responses from parents, carers and practitioners - anyone with an interest - to the formal consultation on the proposed SEND Inspection Framework.
The framework is due to be launched in May 2016 and for parents, it can't come a moment too soon.
The planned accountability system will be operated by Ofsted for education and the Care Quality Commission for the health and social care aspects.
They wanted to know what was important to families and the people who would be working within the system. SNJ put forward its own response. In addition to online responses, Ofsted and CQC held discussions with young people, their parents and carers, disability and special educational need support groups, local authorities and health groups about the most effective ways to inspect how well local areas are meeting their new duties. These discussions were instrumental in shaping the proposals in the consultation. Five pilot inspections were also carried out.
I've summarised the points respondents made and below each set, the actions that Ofsted will take as a result. I would suggest you bookmark this post and ensure they do as promised!
Proposal 1: How effectively the local area identifies children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities
Respondents wanted inspections to include:
- Timeliness of needs being identified.
- Quality of information provided to explain the assessment process and how well parents, families, children and young people were included in the process.
- The cooperation between schools, colleges, social care and health services during the identification and assessment process.
- The clarity of the deciding criteria for assessment for specific needs.
- SEND provision in schools and colleges. Some also wanted health and social care inspections to include those on SEN Support.
As a result of the consultation, inspectors will evaluate:
- How effectively LAs communicate so families so that parents and carers, children and young people understand how needs are identified and how decisions are reached.
- LAs engagement with parents, carers, children and young people, and their involvement in the strategic decision-making process as full partners. Inspectors will give particular emphasis to involvement in strategic joint commissioning and involvement in the assessment of their own case.
- LAs effectiveness in supporting children and young people with specific needs, where its performance is a particular strength or a cause for concern.
- How the local area takes account of children and young people’s wishes and feelings when making decisions.
Proposal 2: How effectively the local area meets the needs and improves the outcomes of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities
Respondents said that:
- The progress that children and young people made towards the next stage of education or life should be evaluated based on their starting points, as well as their satisfaction at progress made.
- Respondents felt that ‘wider’ outcomes, in addition to academic achievement, should include aspects such as improved health and employability. This relates to the preparing for adulthood outcomes introduced by the SEND reforms: employment, independent living, good health, and community participation.
- Some respondents, particularly those from local authorities or sector groups, wanted more detail about how inspectors would measure outcomes.
- Parents agreed strongly that the support provided through the local area, and the impact of early diagnosis and intervention, should be evaluated.
As a result, inspectors will:
- Review education, training, health and social care outcomes as well as academic outcomes, in providing a pathway to adulthood.
- Inspect how LAs processes, culture and ways of working add value to young peoples’ progress, taking account of their starting points. E.g, Continuing improvements to access to community facilities and local participation, such as through improvements to transportation.
- Review how SEND provision differs across the breadth of the area.
- Review how well the local offer fulfils its remit.
Proposal 3: A wide range of information will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of local area arrangements in identifying children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities; and in meeting their needs and improving their outcomes.
- First-hand evidence from parents, carers, children and young people should be the most important feedback for Inspectors.
- Inspectors should examine how well schools, other providers, and the local area meet their statutory obligations, ensure all staff were trained and knowledgeable and that children with SEND were safeguarded.
- Schools' impact should be evaluated. Some respondents wanted an evaluation of joint commissioning between education, health and social care to meet young people’s needs. They felt that evidence should be gathered from commissioners.
As a result of the feedback Ofsted will:
- assess how children and young people’s life chances, their well-being and opportunities are enhanced by the support and services they receive. This will include preparing for the next stage of their learning and/or their prospects of continuing on to higher education, employment or training and, where appropriate, independent living. Inspectors will use this evidence to evaluate the extent to which outcomes for children and young people are improving.
- include examination of case studies, relevant inspection reports, tribunal data and evidence of outcomes.
- look at how well health and social care involvement is identified in support plans, and how all of the agencies work together to assess needs and improve outcomes and the effectiveness of the support provided.
- use visits to providers to inform assessment of how they and other agencies, work collaboratively to improve the life chances of children and young people with SEND
- will consider how well LAs understand the key strengths and issues in the local area such as dealing with any rural isolation and the number of young people educated or provided for out of the local area.
Proposal 4: A wide range of ways will be used during the inspection to obtain the views of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, and their parents and carers.
- Parents and young people should be a key source of feedback about how well needs were being met.
- Inspectors, rather than the local area or providers, should choose which parents and young people to speak to and the places to visit across the full age range.
- Children and young people on SEN Support and their parents and carers, should also be included. In addition, children and young people with SEND in independent schools who are funded by the local authority, those being educated at home or those whose parents have refused a school place, and their parents and carers should be also contacted.
- Inspectors should have the skills to be able to communicate with parents and young people, especially if alternative forms of communication were needed. This may, occasionally, mean using an interpreter, an advocate or assistive technology.
- Parent forums, support groups and other bodies who represent parents should be asked to contribute to inspection.
- Inspectors should have thorough knowledge, expertise and experience of special educational needs and disabilities, and of local authority arrangements and structures.
- There should be a parent (or a representative from a parent forum group), a health practitioner or someone from social care trained as an inspector on the inspection team.
As a result, Ofsted said:
In accordance with the Code of Practice, parents and carers must play an essential role in the process. Inspectors will meet with groups of parents and carers that are representative of the local area. It will not always be possible to meet with parents on an individual basis, but we will ensure that parents have every opportunity to share their views with inspectors when we visit providers. We will use views of parents to inform our evaluation of the effectiveness of the local area and we will not identify children, young people or parents when we present our findings to the local area. We will invite the local area to recommend representative forums, parents and young people for us to meet with, but the decision ultimately rests with the inspection team.
Inspectors will be recruited with a relevant professional background in special educational needs and disabilities. Inspectors will be specialists and will be well experienced in knowing how young people’s special educational needs and/or disabilities can be met. Where we need to, we will make arrangements to communicate with young people and adults through sign, symbols or other means.
Longer announcement period
As a result of the consultation and the pilot inspections, Ofsted has decided to give five days’ notice before an inspection. This is so parents and young people have time to find childcare or other support to enable them to take part in the inspection.
Additional Answers from Children and Young People
741 children and young people responded to the consultation and when asked What else should inspectors do? They said that inspectors should:
- check how many students are absent and how many of these have been asked to stay at home or work offsite when they visit schools and colleges
- ask several young people, who are currently receiving or used to receive support, to help inspectors evaluate support in different schools and colleges
- speak to parents who have been to tribunal and explore why they had reached that point
- use appropriate means to gather young people’s views, for example, with those who use alternative means of communication, such as sign or symbols.
What happens next?
- The feedback will be taken into account when producing the framework and the handbook for inspections.
- Each area's full age range from birth to age 25, will be included, in line with the Code of Practice.
- Inspections will commence in May 2016.
- The development and effectiveness of local areas’ commissioning arrangements will be assessed.
- Inspectors will be rigorously trained and any inspectors formerly employed by local authorities won't be able to inspect their former areas to avoid any conflict of interest.
- An area's size and complexity will be taken into account and its believed that five days onsite inspections will be sufficient for inspectors to gather and analyse first-hand evidence to inspect the effectiveness of the local area.
- A pre-inspection analysis will enable the Inspectors to decide for themselves which groups of parents and carers to speak with, and the schools, colleges and other institutions to visit.
- As part of the inspection, a sample of schools and colleges will be visited to assess their SEND provision outside of their usual institutional inspection.
- For health and social care services, a local area’s effectiveness in meeting its duties under the Code of Practice will also assess their overall contribution and ability to work collaboratively.
Launching the inspection framework
This spring and summer terms there will be a series of regional workshops to support local area planning, evaluation and understanding of the new inspection framework. During this time, the new SEND inspectors will be trained and the new local area SEND inspection handbooks will be published. Again, you can find the whole report here.
SNJ on Accountability: Our response to the consultation |All our posts on Accountability in the SEND reforms
Are you impressed with the results? Leave your views on the results and if you think the process will have the intended impact.
She is also an experienced broadcast and print journalist & author. Tania also runs a PR, web & social media consultancy, SocialOro Media. She is a Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
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