SENSAP Update – September 2023
We hope that you and your families have had a good summer and are excited about starting the new term.
In this update we’ve got lots of news to share, including updated SEN Caseworker allocation and important information about getting in touch with us. We also want to give a quick update about our FFI working group that is looking at some short- to medium-term changes to the FFI framework. Regarding EHC Assessments and Plans, there is an overview of the current issues we are experiencing, and how we’re trying to deal with them.
We would also like to formally congratulate Iveson Primary School on the opening of their brand new Resource Provision for children with Autism and complex communication difficulties; 8 children are ready to start this term, and expanding to another 8 over time.
And after years of delays in getting to this point, we are very excited to welcome Co-op Academy Brierley into our special school family, who open their doors to their first cohort of children on 13th September in their brand-new building based on the Nightingale Primary Academy site. We’re also pleased and proud to announce the opening of the new Vine college. This is a new college based in the East of Leeds for up to 60 post-16.
We are also pleased and proud to announce the opening of the new Vine College (part of Leeds City College). Vine provides psot-16 education for up to 60 young people with highly complex physical and learning disabilities. The college is moving from its previous base in Kirkstall over to a brand new purpose built facility in East Leeds.
The original backlog of new assessments has now almost been completed, thanks to the work of the Assessment Recovery Project (ARP). Despite a number of setbacks, we’re still on track to be fully completed by October half term.
However, we are aware that despite increases in the SENSAP team we are still finding it difficult to complete assessments on time because of reduced capacity in completing Educational Psychology assessments. We’re not able to complete assessments without an EP contribution, and this is subsequently affecting our ability to move individual cases forward. We’re in regular contact with the EP team and their managers to understand the situation and what is being done to address the capacity issues. Our SEN Casework Officers and SEN Casework Support Officers have also been busy over the summer calling affected families just to check in with them and give reassurance that we’re doing everything we can to move the situation forward. We do know that the EPs are prioritising children in transition year groups, and those who are looked after, before working chronologically.
More recently the council has commissioned PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC) to undertake a systems review of the SEN system, to understand where there could be greater efficiencies and where further investment or development is needed. Some of you will have been involved in their consultation work. PWC have completed their first phase of work, and are currently pulling their findings together, which we will share when available.
On behalf of the council, I am sorry that there continues to be delays securing EHC Assessments on time. We will provide more information on the situation as soon as it is available.
Y6 to Y7 Transitions
Children with EHC Plans
If you have a child who is in Year 6 with an EHC Plan you should have recently received a letter from us. If you haven’t received one, it should be with you very shortly. This tells you all about how apply for secondary school places.
In short, please email SENSAP@leeds.gov.uk before 31 October 2023, with the subject line “Year 6 preferences”. You will need to tell us your child’s name, date of birth and current school. You will also need to give us up to 3 secondary school you would like us to consider, in the order of your preference.
In the meantime, your school will hold a review of the EHC Plan (if they haven’t already done so in the summer term of Year 5), to update the plan.
If your child attends an ‘all through school’ (for example a SILC, or one of the mainstream through schools such as Carr Manor, Roundhay, or Temple Learning) they will automatically transfer from Year 6 to Year 7. You only need to get in touch if you would like them to move to a different school.
Please refer to the letter for all the information you need.
Children going through an EHC Assessment
We know there are a number of Year 6s currently under assessment and so this year we also written to the parents/carers of these children. We would strongly recommend that you apply through the normal admissions portal process. If you receive a draft EHC Plan before 31 October 2023, then you can also email us your preferences as per the information above.
Secondary school options
For advice about available secondary school options, please see the information that was contained in the letter sent to you, or visit the SENDIASS web pages.
SEN Caseworker Allocations
You may already know that we’ve refreshed our allocations for this academic year. The updated list is available on the ‘SENSAPStaff‘ page.
We’ve restructured our staff back into area teams so that each area has a relevant Team Leader where issues can be escalated, and complex casework and decision making can be undertaken. Year 11s and above are still held with the Post-16 team, led by Richard Temple as Post-16 Team Leader. Rhena Khan, as well as the South Team Leader, is still in place as my Deputy SENSAP Lead and is has immediate operational oversight of the casework side of SENSAP.
Funding for Inclusion
Many of you will be aware of our FFI (Funding For Inclusion) system in Leeds. FFI is the council’s system of delegating money from the council to schools and educational settings to support all children and young people aged 0-25 with SEN. In Leeds, this includes those with and without EHC Plans.
Back in May we held a series of meetings with school leaders to look at our internal processes and see if there were any ways that we could work together to make things easier and quicker.
We have realised that we need to review and update our public information about FFI so the systems and processes are clearer for parents/carers and families. Please bear with us while we develop this further.
Getting in touch with us
Please note that we have a new telephone number: 0113 376 0062
We are continuing to receive a significant number of emails both to the general inbox and directly to officers. We are doing our best to ensure timely responses, but are struggling to keep on top of the amount of incoming messages. We would be grateful if you can help us by following these tips:
Finding information: Checking the Leeds Local Offer for any general queries, before contacting us. The Local Offer is a directory of all Leeds SEN services, processes and pathways for children and young people with SEN aged 0-25.
Emailing the team: If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can email the general team inbox: SENSAP@leeds.gov.uk and they will either respond with the information you need or refer your message onto the most appropriate person.
Emailing officers directly: If you know the contact details of the person you need to speak to, please email them directly. There is not usually any need to copy the SENSAP inbox, or another officer, into your email.
Please note that we have a standard 5-day response policy for contact by both email and phone. If you call or email repeatedly within the 5-day period, it is unlikely going to lead to a speedier response; please bear with us and we will get back to you ASAP.