SEND co-design group presents recommendations

Hackney Town Hall

Parents, professionals, campaigners and councillors have presented Hackney Council with a number of recommendations that they believe will help to further improve special educational needs provision in the borough. The Council has welcomed the report and the key recommendations will be developed into a model for Cabinet to consider.

SEND provision in Hackney was recently judged to be ‘good’ by Ofsted, and the Council hopes these recommendations will help to drive further improvements for children, young people and their families.

The SEND Co-design Group developed the proposals over an 18-month period, following a commitment from the Council to co-design a new model for funding Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs). This funding, known as ‘high needs funding’ is allocated to schools to support children with additional needs.

The Group’s key recommendation is that the current approach of allocating funding through five unequal funding bands (known as ‘resource levels’) should be reconsidered. The Group believes that more evenly spaced, incremental funding levels could be a better approach to funding EHCPs. 

They fed back that they think current funding levels are too uneven and out of date, and that a new approach would allow the Council to allocate more specific funding levels and more easily track how this funding is supporting pupils’ development. 

The Group also identified a number of issues around how the Council could better support families, which the Council has committed to embed throughout the SEND service. The Council will report back on this progress later in the year.

The Group had 16 members, and was comprised of parents, teachers, specialists, campaigners and back bench councillors, led by an independent chair. It was tasked with considering and advising on options for a model that makes the best use of resources in the wake of severe funding pressures. They met on a regular basis to discuss best practice from across the country and to share ideas for how EHCPs could be funded in a more sustainable way that meetsthe needs of children in Hackney. 


Cllr Chris Kennedy, Cabinet Member with responsibility for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
I’d like to thank the SEND Co-design Group for all of their work on this incredibly detailed and well thought out report. Officers at the Council have welcomed it, and will work on the recommendations to ensure they are embedded as part of the SEND service. 

The key recommendation, about funding levels, will now be considered in depth, and developed into a model for Cabinet to consider. I’m looking forward to getting a better understanding of how this new approach to funding Education Health and Care Plans will work in practice.

I am sure the recommendations will help us all to focus on providing a better service for children, and that the model brought to Cabinet results in a more sustainable service, that allows officers to better plan budgets.

I’m pleased the Council has been able to work with parents and campaigners to co-design a way forward. We all want the very best for children in Hackney with special educational needs, and we need to work together to achieve this. However, we need to be clear that the Government are the only ones with the power to make real change here. We will continue to lobby on behalf of our young people, families and schools, and do all we can on a local level to support them.
Cllr Chris Kennedy, Cabinet Member with responsibility for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
HiP were invited to join HLT's co-design project in July 2018, along with other parent and school representatives, governors, HLT members and councillors. We were disappointed that, despite them being invited, there was no representation from mainstream head teachers in primary or secondary schools, nevertheless, we made some progress in working towards remodelling the EHCP process. Dispute the restricted remit, we were able to discuss many wider issues in Hackney that faced SEND children and their families, and suggested areas of improvement within the borough.
Ann-Marie Dawkins, on the behalf of the HiP (Hackney Independent Forum for Parents/Carers of Children with Disabilities) Steering Group

The Children and Families Act 2014, which introduced ECHPs, led to councils becoming responsible for providing additional support for young people from 0-25, rather than during statutory school age. This means the Council now supports about 34% more children than when the Act came in - a total of about 2,000. The Government has not funded this additional need and only recently began to address the funding shortfall.

In 2018/19 the Government gave Hackney £42.1m in High Needs funding, but the Council spent closer to £50m. We expect this overspend to increase by about £1.7m each year. So far the Council has found this money by making savings elsewhere, using reserves, one-off grants and moving money from other education funds, but this is not sustainable in the long run.

Read the full report: www.hackneylocaloffer.co.uk/sendconsultations