Meeting documents

SCC Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee
Monday, 3rd October, 2022 1.00 pm

  • Meeting of Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee, Monday 3rd October 2022 1.00 pm (Item 8.)

This item will be led by the Council’s Assistant Director Inclusion Dr Rob Hart, and Strategic Manager, Commissioning, Vikki Hearn.


There are a number of background papers – for sight of these please contact the report author: -


1.    Draft SEND JSNA

2.    SEND Charter - see 2018 02 20 SEND Charter.pdf (

3.    Somerset Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Peer Challenge 23 May 2022 – 26 May 2022 Feedback Report

4.    Impower Somerset SEND Transformation Discovery Report July 2022


Note – the Chair will allow 40 minutes for this agenda item


This item was introduced by the Council’s Assistant Director Inclusion Dr Rob Hart, and Strategic Manager, Commissioning, Vikki Hearn who outlined the on-going work in developing the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy 2023-26.


Dr Hart and Ms Hearn explained that: -

  • the strategy will set the priorities for SEND improvement following on from the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) period, due to be completed by the end of December 2022
  • the priorities are evidence based and have been developed through extensive engagement, from the findings of the SEND Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), and taking into consideration the vast amount of research commissioned to better understand the needs of the SEND system
  • the local area has conducted listening events, coffee morning and conversations with staff teams to gather their views on what the future priorities of the SEND strategy should be
  • additionally, all engagement which has taken place throughout the life of the WSoA has been analysed and has contributed to the development of the emerging themes
  • further engagement is planned over the next few weeks to refine the draft priorities followed by an 8-week consultation period.


The Committee then received a PowerPoint presentation from Ruth Hobbs, highlighting the key messages from the recent Somerset’s SEND Annual Survey.


The Committee discussed the report and presentation, and the following questions and issues were raised and responded to, as follows: -

  • question on capacity and how will achieve what set out in the Strategy – not everything can be a priority – need to be clear and specific (define) what can achieve and is deliverable; and having the right capacity in teams dealing with assessment referrals
  • comments on the key messages from the annual survey, the sample size and the significant work undertaken, the collaborative outcome meetings and the ambitions for children and young people – collected views in a variety of ways and outlined the consultation and where information had been collated; looking to build on work of Somerset Works / programme; reference to the work with The Unstoppables children and young people’s group
  • question about the number of statutory assessments coming in, where they are coming from and numbers which result in going to a Tribunal – clarified that the statutory assessment is the education health care plan which means there is a child who has support needs in education, possibly with health and social care need that are over and above what children would normally receive. Schools receive funding to put in place support for children with SEN and the majority of children with SEN will have those met from those resources, but a small proportion of children – about 4% of all children in Somerset – will need an education health care plan (ECHP); the majority of referrals come from schools; in last few years there has been an overall proportionate decline in referrals from parents and a proportionate increase in referrals from schools; referrals often come in the transition years (years 6-7); highlighted priority areas of need; Tribunal numbers and most common reason for appeal is around the placement (on the school named in the EHCP); costs including emotional costs to families mentioned; mentioned opening of new special free school in Martock in early 2024 for children with social management and health needs that will ultimately provide 120 places; mentioned the expansion of the Sky Academy in Taunton which caters for children with social, emotional, mental health needs; the Strategy will provide a clear plan around sufficiency / provision in the county in the future
  • provided clarity on the new ‘Free School’ which is an Academy i.e., not a local authority school
  • mention made about the role of other practitioners and resource in the system who can provide advice, guidance and support the aspiration of children and young people – will pick up the advice / guidance point in the Strategy; employment pathways and apprenticeships referred to (e.g., Avon and Somerset Police)
  • comment about the issue of funding for SEND across country and that it is good to know that a lot is happening in Somerset


On behalf of the Committee the Vice Chair thanked Dr Hart, Ms Hearn and Ms Hobbs for the detailed information.


The Committee: -


(a)  Noted the following emerging SEND Strategy Themes which will be underpinned by a number of mission statements, outlining how these will be delivered, for consultation.

1.    Listen, Hear and Respond - Children and young people with SEND and their families will be heard and feel they have choice and control about their lives.  Not for me, with me.

2.    Working Together and Coordinated - We are working together as a co-ordinated system and at the case level, around the family.

3.    Getting Help as Early as Possible - Children, young people and their families are able to access the right support at the right time.

4.    Access to the right information, support and provision - Children, young people and their families telling us: "I understand the support and provision that is available to me, and I can access it, if I need it."

5.    Preparing for the future - Children and young people have the right skills and options, according to their individual needs, to take control of their future and achieve the ambitions important to them.


(b)  Asked to see the final report from the Annual Survey when it is available.

(c)   Asked that the consultation draft of the SEND Strategy be shared with the Committee

(d)  That the SEND Strategy be brought back to the Committee after the consultation and engagement has concluded.

Supporting documents: