6.1 Ann Wallace, Service Manager – Children with Complex Needs, and Chris Hilliard, Consultant – Special Projects presented the report.
6.2 In response to questions from the Committee, the following was noted:
1. Members asked that the next update include numbers and the percentage of appeals settled prior to tribunal.
2. The council employs a tribunal officer. Counsel is supplied at an additional cost.
3. The council’s decision is upheld in approximately 60% of appeals that go to tribunal.
4. The council is looking to build the supported internship offer with local further education colleges.
5. Members felt the community offer for 22-25 year olds with EHCPs may need strengthening
6. The improvement in take up of annual health checks was measured by GP responses.
7. There was concern that the parent guidance that was being prepared to be published by the end of December was not widely known about.
8. Members requested that the action plan on reviewing transition/ preparing for adulthood be shared with the committee.
9. Some members felt that delivery of the ‘Education’ element of the EHCP was stronger than the ‘Health’ and ‘Care’ elements.
10.There were 2 typos in paragraph 13.2. References to January 2017 and 2018 should have read “in January 2019”.
11.Members requested that any future SEND strategy updates map CQC identified weaknesses against actions.
12.The committee heard that, anecdotally, some families were home schooling because the support set out in the EHCP was not being delivered.
13.The council’s position on elective home education is that generally EHE is not a positive option for children and young people with an EHCP and therefore would be subject to rigorous checks.
14.There were concerns about the high rate of ASD diagnosis. The diagnostic pathway had been reviewed and now included CAMHS input. Results would be monitored so see if the rate of diagnosis changes as a result.
15.Large numbers of children with EHCPs going out of borough to school is down to parental choice, with many parents choosing private schools out of borough. The council is working with 13 Lewisham schools to develop them to manage need.
16.In practice, while the public purse is a relevant consideration, tribunals usually side with the parent regarding their choice of provision for their child.
6.3 The time being 21:23, it was MOVED, SECONDED and RESOLVED that Standing Orders be suspended to allow for the completion of committee business.
17.Cllr John Paschoud had a large number of questions to put to officers, which he offered to do by email to speed up committee business. It was agreed that responses to these questions would return to committee.
18.The committee heard anecdotal evidence that parents were finding it difficult to get schools to do an EHCP assessment, and that where an EHCP was in place schools were not implementing due to lack of resources. As a result, some parents perceived EHCP assessments as not worth doing.
19.Officers clarified that Parents can make their own EHCP assessment request, independently of the school, as part of the local offer.
20.The Parliamentary Education Select Committee was conducting a special educational needs and disabilities inquiry, and Lewisham parents were providing input.
6.4 It was RESOLVED that:
2. Cllr John Paschoud would email officers his questions on the report. Written responses would be presented to the committee.
3. Any future SEND strategy updates map CQC identified weaknesses against actions.