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Friday, 24 July 2020 15:54

Education, Health and Care Plans in Kent

Index

Update: You will find an article exploring the government's announcement of 35 new Free Specia Schools to be set up here

Further Update: KCC and government have announced the opening of a new secondary special school on the Isle of Sheppey for September 2022. 

This article looks back at provision for children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for the year 2018-19 across Kent, success rates for those appealing against decisions, along with other related matters. The data shows a sharp rise of 80% in EHCPs awarded in under three years, with a corresponding increase in budget putting enormous pressure on KCC education finances.

The data below shows that for nearly half of families requesting a statutory assessment of SEN this is not followed through for some reason, often lack of support from the school which may be for good reason. However, for most who get that far, the overwhelming majority were awarded an EHCP, so it is worthwhile persevering. I imagine that the difficulties of securing an EHCP over the past six months have been immense.  Those unsuccessful in securing an EHCP or one that is adequate for the purpose have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, although large numbers starting down this route did not follow through, often where KCC decided their cases were not worth defending and concede the EHCP, as suggested by the data.

The article also looks at placements of children with EHCPs, with 40% of primary and 30% of secondary pupils remaining in mainstream schools, along with the number of children being with EHCPs being de-registered from school for Elective Home Education, together with a brief look at the powerful performance of Medway Special SchoolsI also look back at a damning Inspection of Kent’s ineffectiveness in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 which took place in the middle of this period; consider the current situation and the financial pressures imposed by the increase in EHCPs; and the number of families taking up places in private schools, funded by KCC often after Tribunal. These include one which charges more than twice as much as Eton College. 

For specific Sections in this article below follow the links:

Lockdown

KCC SEND Provision Ofsted Inspection 2019

Education Health and Care Plans in Kent 2018-19

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal

 
 

There are many other children with SEND (Special Education Needs and Disability) in Kent’s schools who are supported by High Needs Funding, and I apologise that this article is unable to consider these, for I know that many are also under considerable pressures.

You will find a survey of each Special School in Kent beginning here,  and a  list of Special Education Units (often called Specialist Resource Provision by professionals) here, together with some additional information.

Kent’s most recent Strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities was published in 2017, promoting the performance of KCC, and is in urgent need of renewal.

Lockdown
I have spoken to a number of headteachers in recent months and one of the main themes is their concern over the mental health of children coping with the consequences of the pandemic including school closure. One can only imagine the extra difficulties encountered by many families with children who have SEND as they struggle at home with children often unable to comprehend what is happening about them. KCC reports that although all children with EHCPs are regarded as vulnerable and so eligible to have returned to school during lockdown, no more than 10% have done so (likely to be lowest for those in mainstream schools). There are also reports of some mainstream schools unwilling to accept such pupils who have a parent who is a critical worker, or who are vulnerable. Shockingly, there are media reports about children in Kent with Special Education Needs who have taken their own lives over the same period.
 
Ofsted Inspection 2019
In the middle of this period (January 2019), Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission jointly conducted a damning Inspection of Kent’s effectiveness in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and highlighting some of the many problems encountered by families.

One of the key findings was that ‘Parents and carers who contributed to the inspection are overwhelmingly negative about their dealings with the local area. Some told inspectors that Kent did not care about their children. Many parents and carers are rightly upset, angry and concerned about the services and provision that their children receive’. The Report then details those concerns in a shocking story of failure to support Kent’s most vulnerable children and which contributed to the departure of Keith Abbott, KCC Director of Planning and Access, earlier this year.

This article is primarily about EHCP plans, but the Report found that ‘Too many children have weak EHC plans’ failing to meet their needs'. Also ‘Systems to assess and review children’s needs are weak. This has resulted in some parents securing additional support for their children using private assessments and the threat of legal proceedings. Other parents, who are unable to take such action, are frustrated by a system that appears not to care about their children’. Some years ago I was quoted in the Daily Mail saying that the system was biased towards middle-class families, and heavily criticised by KCC officers as a result. This statement confirms that nothing has changed.

Almost the only good news is that ‘the number of permanent exclusions for all children, including those with SEND, has significantly reduced’. However, this follows a campaign by me some years ago, in the face of obstruction by KCC who tried to deny the problem, to see the large numbers reduced, as explained here.

KCC and the NHS produced a comprehensive Action Plan in August 2019, much of it to be driven by the now-departed Keith Abbott, and we await to see its effectiveness.

The next page looks at  EHCPs and SEN Tribunals


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Last modified on Tuesday, 28 July 2020 07:05

1 comment

  • Comment Link Sunday, 19 July 2020 20:12 posted by Oliver

    Yet another tour de force. You acknowledge you are no longer a SEND expert, but there will be plenty of information here which will surprise many, and also advice to families faced with the tortuous and stressful path of working towards an appropropriate EHCP. I have just on plea for readers; I am sure there is plenty more out there which could have been added, I am sure Peter and other browsers would be pleased to see it published here. PETER: Thanks for that and I am very happy to incorporate anything I have omitted which will help families.

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