Rachel Morgan, Assistant Director: Education and Learning will provide a verbal update on the Inclusion Hub Model for schools.
Jackie Ross, Interim Head of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) explained that Inclusion Hubs (to be known as ‘Hubs to include children’ in the future) was a project that had been considered in the Autumn term and presented to the Schools Forum in December. The project was about looking at different ways of including children with SEND issues in education as much as possible. It involved officers working closely with adults and children in a number of schools around the Borough.
Members were informed the SEND Code of Practice was aimed at helping children who were not making same the progress as their peers. This could be for a number of reasons, including the cognitive level of the child, quality of teaching or family issues. The aim of the Inclusion Hubs was to provide prompt solutions for children and assess how adults could work with them.
There were approximately 2,500 children with SEND across the Borough. Whilst the majority of children succeeded in Bracknell those on SEND support had a higher frequency of fixed term exclusions. Officers had begun by looking at how they could deal with that issue.
Schools were asked to apply to be part of the pilot and were successful if the school met the following criteria:
The aim was to work with children but also to work with the whole school and ensure dissemination of skills at the end of the project. Some schools wanted assistance with SEND issues specifically and others wanted to look at how they worked with families. During the project officers noticed the legacy of Early Help Hubs coming to fruition in their work with families. Initially the Council wanted to work with five schools but six met the criteria so it was agreed all six would be part of the pilot scheme.
Prior to going into schools officers asked for minimum information – the child’s name, if parental consent had been obtained and a blank box for school staff to complete about the child. Some schools sent in additional information. Officers then went into schools and asked school staff to present the cases for the five children they had chosen. During the presentations a number of school staff presented about issues they experienced in trying to regulate a child’s behaviour. It was thought this could be linked to their home environment; the child not relating to the school environment or difficulties in understanding which may require an assessment of their cognition. An example was given of specialists altogether in a secondary school debating what could be provided in school for a particular child but also thinking about what was available outside, perhaps educating the child in a Forest School (Forest schools take place in a woodland or forest. More information can be found on their website) https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/what-is-forest-school/
It was noted the joining up of staff in the Council to create the People Directorate had enabled increased joint working as part of this project and were looking at how they could join up further. Increasing participation of children with SEND in schools was a national issue and that school staff had been told to differentiate to help a child over the past few years. However, the new Ofsted Framework indicated a different approach. For some children it could mean accessing an alternative curriculum in school or creating smaller groups for children to access, which already occurred in some Bracknell schools. Staff had been actively discouraged from attaching a Teaching Assistant to a child and instead integrate the child into school as much as possible. Work with the final school was going to be concluded shortly.
Next steps included revisiting all the children that participated in the pilot during the summer term to see if their new provision was appropriate or not. Council staff would meet collectively with Head Teachers and SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) involved in the Inclusion Hub project to understand their experience. They had received positive feedback so far. Additional funding had been limited but school leaders cited the value in being able to discuss tricky issues with their colleagues and specialists. Council staff presented their initial findings from the pilot scheme to Ofsted during their recent inspection, with the intention to develop it further with schools across the Borough.
Key areas of work for the future included:
· Looking at identification of needs, especially if the child had not come through Early Years services and were new to the Borough.
· Checking if needs had been identified adequately, especially if a child received a lot of fixed term exclusions. This was likely to require training with some schools around identifying needs.
· Reviewing what needed to be commissioned in the medium and long term? This would involve working with schools as they were also commissioners and promotion of clusters of schools commissioning services together.
· Checking if existing specialist capacity met the needs of the Borough. This might include a graduated scheme where more specialists got involved in a child’s case or it might mean looking at what schools could develop independently and strategically to build capacity across the Borough.
· Keeping children and young people at the heart of this project.
Rachel Morgan, Assistant Director: Education and Learning concluded by saying this had been an opportunity to take an idea, supported by the Schools Forum in Bracknell, and see what could be done to support children as well as making sure residents got value for money. Members would receive an update at the end of the summer once the pilot had been concluded.
As a result of discussions the following comments and questions were raised:
· Additional capacity would be created within the team to support this work by Spring 2019.
· Louise Connelly, Governance & Scrutiny Co-ordinator to publish the presentation along with the minutes.
· Chairman to request a follow up paper be brought to the September Panel meeting.