SENCO Update reports a framework for local authorities that contextualizes SEN/LDD issues within the five outcomes of Every Child Matters will be helpful to SENCOs

The Special Educational Needs/Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Self-Evaluation Framework, which we reproduce below, has been developed by the DCSF to support local authorities (LAs) in reviewing and evaluating strategy, services and provision for children and young people with SEN and LDD. It has been designed so that local authorities can benchmark and evaluate their own progress and performance, and use this information to identify areas for further development. The framework has been piloted and updated following feedback. The framework is not mandatory and many LAs have developed their own materials to support self-evaluation. The DCSF advises that this framework should only be used where it augments existing materials or offers added value. Whether their LA adopts the new framework or not, SENCOs will find it helpful to know what information SEN advisers will be seeking from them. Examining pertinent issues, such as those related to pupil attainment, may also help them in evaluating how effectively their own school is making progress towards the five Every Child Matters outcomes. This could be especially helpful as Ofsted inspections are now also concerned with these outcomes. SENCOs can look in particular at how their school might answer questions from the LA about provision for vulnerable learners and the impact of school improvement plans on them; use of P level data and support for CPD for staff on working with pupils with SEN/LDD. In relation to making a positive contribution, SENCOs might consider how their school can demonstrate the involvement of pupils with SEN/LDD in reviewing IEP progress. The framework is designed to support LAs with their ongoing cycles of evidence-based planning, evaluation, review and development. LAs may update as goals are achieved, as evidence of performance and impact becomes available and when new priorities are set.

Key issues

The framework is divided into the five ECM outcomes with a final section on strategic and service management, which includes a focus on outcomes and the use of resources. Each of the five outcome areas contains a number of key issues designed to act as prompts for review. Each group of issues is followed by a grid (not reproduced here) that is divided into three sections as follows:

  • Evidence – Evidence may be gathered from the data annex which forms an additional part of the framework and other data available to the LA. Other sources of evidence may include published papers and qualitative information drawn, for example, from surveys and consultation with schools, partner agencies, pupils and their parents/carers.
  • Commentary – This section enables the LA to reflect on what the evidence is saying about progress, the impact of strategy and any issues arising. It also enables LAs to highlight particular strengths.
  • Areas for development/action required – This section enables the LA to identify particular actions and/or areas for development. This should inform both SEN strategy and the Children and Young Persons’ Plan (C&YPP).

Special Educational Needs/Learning Difficulties and Disabilities – A Framework to Support Self-Evaluation by Local Authorities

Evaluation within the Every Child Matters five-outcomes framework

1. Being healthy

Issues to consider include:

a) The coordination and integration of early identification, assessment and intervention arrangements regarding health conditions, impairments, social/physical barriers to inclusion.

b) Targets and actions for improving the health of children and young people with SEN/LDD are reflected in strategic planning.

c) Arrangements to support access to hospital and primary health care services, therapy, equipment services and social care services for identified children and young people with SEN/LDD.

d) The extent to which services actively promote the social inclusion of disabled children and young people.

e) The degree to which health organizations work with education and social care services to plan for and deliver multi-agency care plans. This may include reference to protocols and agreements outlining financial responsibilities.

2. Staying safe

Issues to consider include:

a) Arrangements to ensure the effective sharing and transfer of information between key agencies.

b) Section 85 of the Children Act 1989 – duty to ensure an appropriate and safe environment when pupils are placed residentially and to ensure appropriate arrangements for linking with families.

c) Use of the National Contract when purchasing placements in independent and non-maintained special schools.

d) Arrangements to monitor placements at out of area schools, particularly where residential.

e) The extent to which safeguarding and child protection arrangements take adequate account of the particular needs of children and young people with SEN/LDD.

f) The development/implementation of the Common Assessment Framework and change of practice that has resulted from this – the development of the role of the lead professional for children with SEN/LDD.

g) The effectiveness and impact of the anti-bullying strategies of both the LA and schools.

h) The extent to which strategy related to behavior support/PRUs/provision of specialist services provides a cohesive framework for tackling behavioral difficulties that has real impact in schools and improved outcomes for children and young people.

i) How effective are schools and other agencies at identifying children and young people who may be at risk? Are local safeguarding procedures adhered to and are they effective?

3. Enjoying and achieving

(i) Children and young people out of school. Issues to consider include:

a) The Admissions Forum; the extent to which agreed protocols regarding hard-to-place pupils are in place, are effective and priority given to/arrangements for vulnerable learners during admissions processes.

b) Assessment of the impact of services (including youth services) in supporting non-attending pupils.

c) Arrangements for the tracking of pupils. Are all children not in school known? The extent to which all children not in school receive an appropriate education, the arrangements to monitor the provision and to ensure safeguarding in these circumstances.

d) Monitoring of exclusion data, including ethnicity, and extent to which appropriate action is taken as a result of such monitoring.

e) Analysis of attendance and exclusions data in respect of children with SEN/LDD

f) The extent to which data held on children and young people out of school over the last five years has influenced the development of provision and services. Are these currently appropriate and do they meet needs?

g) Arrangements for the coordination of services for those who do not attend schools within the context of integrated services in ways which improve outcomes.

(ii) Early years. Issues to consider include:

a) Progress made in developing children’s centers and extended service schools.

b) Key developments concerning children under five with SEN/LDD over the last year and impact on early identification and assessments.

(iii) Pupil attainment, monitoring and LA support for progress. Issues to consider include:

a) Arrangements for school improvement services (including the use of SIPs) to monitor the quality of the provision made by schools for all groups of vulnerable learners, including SEN/LDD, and the provision of support and challenge where appropriate. Support that the LA provides to help schools to evaluate and evidence the impact that they make for children with SEN/LDD.

b) Support that the school improvement service (including the use of SIPs) provides to help schools to evaluate and evidence the impact that they make for children with SEN/LDD, to prioritize SEN/disability in CPD and to support improved teaching and assessment of children with SEN/LDD.

c) Progress in developing/encouraging the use of holistic planning and the appropriate targeting/evaluation of interventions within schools. What steps is the council taking to support/challenge schools with the development of provision management so that parents can better know what support is available for their child?

d) Particular strategies in place to support the education of children and young people in care, and evidence of impact.

e) The collection and use of P level data and support provided to develop this further, including moderation arrangements.

f) Implications of trend data regarding the attainment of children and young people with SEN/LDD. Any narrowing of the attainment gap between children and young people with SEN/LDD and the majority of their peers.

g) Training and professional development – arrangements in place to identify skill shortages and to support the professional development of all staff including those directly responsible for children with SEN/LDD.

4. Making a positive contribution
Issues to consider include:

a) The quality of information readily available for parents as well as children and young people themselves at transition.

b) The coordination of sources of advice and information (eg parent partnership services, choice advisers, Connexions, children’s services information arrangements).

c) Arrangements to ensure that children and young people are able to contribute to annual reviews/case discussions.

d) The recording of the views of children and young people when new placements are being considered, particularly when out of area and/or residential.

e) Opportunities for the involvement of children and young people with SEN/LDD in school consultative arrangements/youth parliaments, etc.

f) The participation of parents and carers in key review and transition meetings.

g) Progress made in developing/ introducing arrangements for person-centered planning for children and young people with SEN/LDD and their families.

h) The quality and impact of parent partnership services.

i) Success in reducing, or maintaining a low level of tribunal activity (sometimes taken as a proxy for parental confidence).

j) The development of the role of the lead professional for children with SEN/LDD.

5. Achieving economic wellbeing

Issues to consider include:

a) Arrangements for, and impact of, Year 9 transition reviews.

b) The extent and quality of transition reviews held regarding transition to adult services, and the involvement of adult services in this process. The degree to which services and families work together to plan for and implement a multi-agency and personalized approach to transition.

c) The effectiveness of the Connexions service in providing appropriate advice to children and young people with LDD regarding  future options and in coordinating arrangements.

d) Progress made in developing a flexible range of provision to meet needs of young people aged 14-19, any gaps identified and plans/progress in addressing these including liaison with the LSC and other partners.

e) Progress made in reducing the percentage of young people aged 16-19, identified as having SEN/LDD, who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Strategic and service management issues

a) Progress in promoting early intervention and reducing reliance on statements where appropriate).

b) Compliance with best value performance Indicators for statutory assessment.

c) Performance in completing assessments and producing statements within 26 weeks (proposed new target).

d) Compliance with information and funding regulations.

e) Outcomes of monitoring of PLASC data against the national/local data sets to ensure that patterns of local under- or over-representation of pupils with SEN and disability from different ethnic backgrounds is identified, understood and acted upon.

f) Extent to which LA services, schools and settings comply with the requirements of SEN and Disability Discrimination Act (2001) and the Disability Discrimination Act (2005).

g) Developments in the use of the five-outcome framework to write statements or review targets and to evaluate progress.