To receive a report from the Director of Children and Families which presents an update on the new Leeds strategy ‘Everyone’s included: the Leeds SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2022-2027’.
The Director of Children and Families submitted a report which presented an update surrounding the new Leeds strategy ‘Everyone’s included: the Leeds SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2022-2027’. A copy of the strategy was appended to the report for Members’ consideration.
The Chair explained that last year, the Scrutiny Board had considered and welcomed the emerging draft version of the new Leeds SEND and Inclusion Strategy and agreed to maintain a watching briefing surrounding the implementation of the new Strategy.
The following were in attendance for this item:
· Councillor Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships
· Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education
· Julie Longworth, Director of Children and Families
· Val Waite, Chief Officer Learning Inclusion
· Natalie Samuel, Best Practice Development Officer
· Sally Townend, Designated Clinical Officer – SEND, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust
The Chief Officer Learning Inclusion gave a brief introduction to the report and explained that the new strategy responds to a changing and challenging national and local context. Reference was made to the Green Paper ‘The Send Review: right support, right place, right time’ which proposes significant reforms to services for children and young people with SEND across learning, health and care services. Linked to this, the Board was informed that the findings and recommendations of the SEND review mirror the priorities that local families and partners have shared with the service and therefore these already form the basis of the new local strategy. It was highlighted that the strategy, as appended to the report, will be published alongside a much shorter ‘quick and easy read’ format and will be accessible on the Leeds Local Offer website. The Board was also informed that a communication plan is in production to ensure that the strategy is widely communicated from December 2022.
The Board then received a presentation by the Best Practice Development Officer and the Designated Clinical Officer (SEND) from Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, which highlighted the following key points:
· A recap on the 6 priorities for change set out within the new Strategy and how these will be addressed as part of phased approach over the five-year period.
· Key actions to support the priorities and outcomes in phase 1, which includes:
ØThe production and launch of a new Leeds SEND and Inclusion Practice Framework which will bring together national and local policies and best practice principles with learning, resources, and practical tools, all in one place.
ØDeveloping high-quality plans across the continuum of SEND support and services.
ØPromoting multi-agency early identification and support for learners who are vulnerable to permanent exclusion, missing education or dis-engaging from education, and vulnerable to criminal activity or exploitation and sexual exploitation.
ØDeveloping the local offer of provision (schools and other learning places and services) for Leeds’ growing population of children and young people with diverse needs.
ØA commitment to review and improve the multi-agency pathway to identify, assess and meet the needs of those with social communication difficulties and autism (the neurodevelopmental pathway).
ØDeveloping a new city-wide programme to embed trauma-informed practice and reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) such as experiences of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental-ill health in the family.
· An overview of next steps being undertaken, which includes strengthening governance arrangements; strengthening the multi-agency implementation group delivering the strategy; ensuring that the Strategy aligns and interacts with the Future in Mind: Leeds strategy; and regularly reporting progress to the SEND Partnership Board and the integrated health and care CYP's Population Board.
The following areas were also discussed during the Board’s consideration of the report:
Ø Invest to save proposals aimed at increasing capacity to support schools in the inclusion agenda around early intervention to help prevent difficulties escalating.
Ø An acknowledgement of increased pressures financially, including great pressures on the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant, which is the key source of funding for schools and education settings supporting children and young people with higher level SEND needs.
Ø The role of the new SEND Youth Forum and Parent/Carer Forum as invaluable mechanisms for engagement, linked to the SEND Partnership Board, as well as playing an active role in governance of the strategy and its implementation.
Ø Supporting social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) and the importance of this new Strategy aligning and interacting with the Future in Mind: Leeds strategy. It was suggested that the Scrutiny Board may benefit from receiving a more detailed update surrounding the broader work linked to the Future In Mind Strategy.
Ø Actions being taken to increase capacity and improve efficiencies within the service to help tackle the increased demands for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and to also strengthen communication links with schools.
Ø The role of the Children and Young People’s Population Board in facilitating a collaborative approach with other key partners.
Ø The importance of staff engagement to help identify and address key concerns and barriers. A particular example was shared with the Board in relation to staff expressing difficulties around the cost of travel which resulted in Social Work teams being offered the opportunity of a one-off mileage advance which in effect brings their payments to being in advance rather than in arrears.
Ø The benefits of having a SEND and Inclusion Practice Framework to support consistent, high quality early support assessment and planning. It was highlighted that this will also provide a good foundation for more specialised assessment and planning if necessary.
The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions and relayed the Board’s support surrounding the communication and implementation of the new Leeds strategy ‘Everyone’s included: the Leeds SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2022-2027’.
(a) That the contents of the report and presentation, as well as members comments, be noted.
(b) That the Scrutiny Board supports communication and implementation of the new Leeds strategy ‘Everyone’s included: the Leeds SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2022-2027’.