Agenda item

Draft Inquiry Report - Provision of EHCP Support

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services that presents, for discussion, comment and agreement a draft inquiry report following the Board’s scrutiny inquiry into the provision of EHCP support in Leeds.


The Board considered a report from the Head of Democratic Services that presented, for discussion, comment and agreement a draft inquiry report following the Board’s scrutiny inquiry into the provision of EHCP support in Leeds.


In attendance for this item were:


·  Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture, and Education

·  Julie Longworth, Director of Children & Families

·  Dan Barton, Deputy Director – Learning

·  Phil Evans, Chief Officer Transformation and Partnerships

·  Rob Clayton, Principal Scrutiny Adviser


The Chair thanked Executive Board Members and officers for the transparent and open way in which this inquiry has been dealt with.


The Director of Children and Families set out that the directorate has recognised that improvements needed to be made on EHCP and SEND services more generally to deliver positive outcomes and to meet statutory requirements. Co-production was emphasised as a key element, working with children, families and other partners to improve services.


The Executive Board Member noted that challenges in this area and highlighted the national nature of some of the issues and the asks of Government that the Council has in terms of funding. However, it was also noted that there is a Leeds response and welcomed the input of scrutiny into that ongoing process.


Following questions and comments from board members the following discussion took place:


·  In relation to Recommendation 6 on tribunals members suggested that this could be clarified in terms of what the Board is seeking to achieve. This was agreed to, and that the scrutiny adviser will pick that up between now and the next meeting.

·  In response to a query around timescales for an EHCP and placements in an education setting the board were informed that it is a 20 week process from a request to assess and the issuing of an EHCP and that includes the naming of a placement in an education setting.

·  Members noted the shortage of placements as being part of the problem. That is one of the issues but also the level of demand and ability to process demand is also a key issue. In addition, the Board were also informed of possible ways that the capacity of education psychologists could be increased through work with higher education settings albeit there are challenges in developing that approach and it is in the early stages in terms of scoping the work.

·  The Board focussed on the 20 week timescale and asked if a specific recommendation could be included to reflect the views of the LPCF and their frustrations with timescales. The Board noted that the service is focussed on the 20 week timescale and that it is a key priority.

·  On the digital EHCPs recommendation it was explained that EHCPs are digitally stored but the proposal being considered by the service is around a multi-access digital platform that will enable access by parents, SENCOs and support staff. The Board noted that the key driver behind use of digital approaches would be increasing efficiency of processes and reducing bureaucracy.

·  Members noted the recommendation on practice over process and suggested that it should acknowledge existing difficulties being experienced by parents and carers. It was agreed that the focus of the recommendation should be around practice driving process, to avoid process being the focus.

·  Members emphasised the importance of the recommendation on a dedicated inbox for elected members as being of assistance to communication between elected members and residents. And more generally members noted that accessibility is important in terms of digital EHCPs to ensure that residents are able to access and understand the system, which was noted.

·  The Board discussed support available for those that do not reach the threshold for an EHCP that sits outside of the EHCP processes and to identify gaps in provision and commission services where possible. More generally it was noted that children and young people who do not meet EHCP thresholds tend to under perform in terms of attainment outcomes. Plans to include SEND navigators as part of the Early Help Hub approaches were also noted.

·  In relation to the recommendation on funding a suggestion was made that a letter is sent, on a cross party basis, to Government from this Board to support the increase in funding that would assist the delivery of these services. It was agreed that this would be looked into.




The Board:


a)  commented on and agreed amendments to the draft inquiry report on the Provision of EHCP Support in Leeds, following consideration of this issue throughout the 2023/24 municipal year.

b)  noted that a final inquiry report will be brought back to the Board at its meeting on 18 April 2024 taking account of discussion held at today’s meeting.

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