SENSAP Update – June 2023
Rhena Khan has now been appointed as the interim Deputy SENSAP Lead. Rhena will be taking over some of my work leading the casework staff as well as picking up some key strategic threads across the service. Richard Temple has been appointed to backfill the temporary post of SEN Casework Team Leader and will pick up the management and oversight of the post-16 casework. Congratulations to both Richard and Rhena!
The team continues to remain fairly stable, with low turnover of staff and very rare instances of unexpected absences.
Last September we changed back to a relational model of casework, where officers were allocated to schools and settings, rather than processes. The feedback on this change has been overwhelmingly positive, and so we will be sticking with this model moving forward. We are currently looking at our casework allocations to ensure that caseloads remain fair and proportionate. In order to maintain consistency, we are anticipating that most allocated officers will remain the same into the new academic year. There will be some minor changes to reflect the demands and capacity across the city.
We’re still working hard to improve our overall communication regarding individual cases, and are currently looking at caseloads and allocations for September, to ensure that we have excellent coverage and parity across the city. More recently, we’ve had mixed feedback about the speed and success with our progress on developing communication. Some SENCos and families have provided very positive feedback about the changes that they’ve experienced, but we still receive lots of feedback from people who have not yet seen the benefits from the way we’ve remodelled the service. We’re continuing to look closely at the issues so that we can target our resources in the right way to see more development on this moving forward.
Phones: Recent feedback appears to suggest that the number of unanswered or rejected calls is decreasing, and that most people are able to get through to the team, most of the time. The next step for us to ensure that the BAS (Business Admin Service) office staff who answer the phones are continuing to be supported to be able to answer increasing numbers of enquiries with greater clarity and confidence.
Emails: 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.
At times we are still receiving emails and phone calls from parents/carers who use inappropriate and/or abusive tone and language with members of staff. We understand that at times it can be frustrating when there are delays or issues, but we operate a zero tolerance approach to abusive or inappropriate behaviour. Calls or emails which are not appropriate will be terminated and referred to our legal department for further action.
We are pleased and proud to finally welcome the Co-op Multi-Academy Trust to our special school family, with the opening of Coop Academy Brierley in September. Coop Academy Brierley is a generic special school for children with a range of special educational needs, including learning difficulties, communication needs, physical disabilities and medical needs. The first cohort of 56 children aged between Year 1 and Year 7 will be welcomed on site in September 2023. The school will be temporarily sited in a new annexe built onto the Coop Academy Nightingale site, before a permanent move to LS9 which is expected to open in September 2024. For further information about the school please visit the Coop Academy Brierley website.
We’re also very excited to open a new Resource Provision for children with complex communication disorders and Autism at Iveson Primary School. Iveson will be welcoming their first 8 primary-aged children with Autism and complex learning needs in September 2023. Please visit the Iveson Primary School website for details about the school.
We continue to develop our estate of special schools and resource provisions, and have expanded our offer by over 600 additional places since COVID. There are a number of other projects currently in the works, at various stages of development. Further details will be made available at the appropriate time.
We are aware that there are still a number of children across the city currently in mainstream schools who are waiting to move onto special schools. However, due to such an exponential increase in the number of requests for special school places we are struggling to create places quickly enough to meet the demand. We are working hard to source and secure individual arrangements with families and schools where this is the case.
The best place to find information about the different schools and settings across Leeds is on the SENDIASS website. We are working with SENDIASS to update all the information over the summer holidays.
The data for 2022 is due to be published by the DfE in the next month or so, and it will show that in Leeds we experienced a significant decline in the number of EHC assessments which met the 20-week deadline for completion. This was caused by a 63% increase in the number of EHC Assessment requests from 2021 to 2022, coinciding with a shortfall in staffing capacity during that time. Fortunately we are very aware of the situation and are responding to the issues that caused the decline. We now have a full complement of staff, sufficient to meet the demands of the service, and have redesigned the EHC Assessment process so that internal systems are much more streamlined. Early indications of the data of the cases following the new EHC Assessment process show a positive increasing trend in timeliness, but we’re aware there is still a lot of work to do.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of trialling the EHC Assessment Discussion meetings since October 2022. We continue to receive mostly positive feedback, both from SENCos and from families, including where decisions were made not to proceed with an EHC Assessment. For those reasons we intend to make the EHC Assessment Discussions a permanent feature of our EHC Assessment process.
Thank you for your ongoing feedback about how we can better communicate key messages. We’ll continue with these half-termly updates throughout the 2023-24 academic year, and would be grateful for any feedback on how these can be as meaningful and impactful as possible.
If you have any questions please contact the admin team using the details below:
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 0113 376 0062
Original article: https://leedslocaloffer.org.uk/#!/model/page/service/34285