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Rutland Information Service

Frequently asked questions from parents and carers.

Rutland Parent Carer Voice frequently ask Rutland County Council questions on behalf of parents and carers about services for children and young people with SEND. Here are the latest questions and answers from July 2021.

 

Why does Rutland not have Portage services when we have such a high percentage of children with SEND?

Rutland County Council has an Early Years Inclusion Service which works alongside Visions Children Centre. Health Visitors or Community Paediatricians notify Rutland County Council of every young child with SEND. Each family is contacted and offered a visit from the Early Years Inclusion and Children’s Centre team. Families are informed of the Rutland Local Offer along with the Visions Children’s Centre offer. This includes a combination of sessions at the Children's Centre and home-based sessions and groups such as “What’s in the Box?” for children where there is a possible developmental delay. “What’s in the Box?” is a bespoke one to one service tailored to the needs of the child to support the child's development. All services provided are reviewed regularly by the team and via parents feedback, to ensure they provide what parents tell us they need and want. Rutland schools and early years settings also identify any children with additional needs as early as possible and refer them to our services and /or link them to support from community groups.

Why are carers assessments only geared towards those supporting the elderly and/or those supporting due to caring needs with dementia - They don't truly reflect all of the Carers, and the needs that they have within Rutland. This sets Carers at a disadvantage and makes it difficult for them to access support.

In Rutland, if your child is disabled and has a social care plan (section 17) or is deemed to need a social care (section 17) assessment, the children with disabilities social worker, will usually assess parent and carer’s needs at the same time.   Our assessments adopt a 'whole family approach', and the social worker will consider the needs of parents and carers within this process. A parent can ask for an individual carer’s assessment. Further information about the process is available on the Rutland Local Offer.  

Why are the CWDSC workers only assigned to children with life limiting or genetic conditions, as per RCC’s own figures from 19/20?

Some Rutland families felt that social work involvement was intrusive and added to the burden of appointments and meetings they had to attend relating to their child or young person’s disability. The children with disability social care service will usually complete an assessment with a family, under section 17, if a parent or carer requests this and the outcome of that assessment will determine the level of support a child, young person and family needs. In line with other Local Authorities, Rutland County Council utilise a 'Thresholds' document to determine the level of need and support and to ensure families receive the most appropriate level of intervention at the right time.  In Rutland those receiving social care support are likely to be children with complex health needs and disabilities, including profound impairments and life limiting conditions where parents and carers need additional support to provide care for their children. The Local Authority has a duty to protect children who may have safeguarding concerns due to their complex needs.


The LLR thresholds document can be found here: https://lrsb.org.uk/policiesandprocedures. Rutland County Council has published its 'offer' for disabled children.

When is best practice for Adult Social Care to become involved to assist a smooth transition into Adult Social Care from Children services? Parents are reporting that it's very hit and miss, no clear guidance from Early Help, and parents are concerned that their young person will be left without support.

The children’s services team and adult’s services team work together to identify children and young people, who are eligible under The Care Act 2014 to transition into adult social care. The teams work together to track and monitor young people with an EHCP from the age of 14 years. The teams meet regularly throughout the year and discuss children and young people's progress and preparation for adulthood and independence and plan together for them if they are likely to need adult social care when they turn 18 years. If they do need adult social care support, young people and families can consent to a referral to adult social care services when the timing is right for them.
The majority of young people will not need adult social care, so we encourage early conversations at the annual ECHP reviews for young people and their families, to reflect on their future aspirations and to plan for adulthood, including paid employment, good health, further education, and independent living. 

Are the Local Authority doing Child in Need assessments for children with EHCP's or with EHC needs assessments? The children and young people legally meet the definition for children in need, so this should be automatically done, and not left for parents to request.

Rutland County Council children with disabilities social care team usually complete an assessment with a child and family, under section 17, if a parent or carer requests this, and the outcome of the assessment will determine the level of support offered to the child or young person and family. In line with other Local Authorities, Rutland County Council utilise a Thresholds document to determine the level of need and the level of support and ensure families receive the most appropriate level of intervention at the right time.

Some families have told us they prefer to have an Early Help Assessment and a Team around the Family Plan.
In Rutland our children with disabilities social workers will contribute to the education health and care assessments, especially to Section D and Sections H1 and H2 of an Education, Health and Care Plan needs assessment (EHCNA). If families give consent a social worker will meet with the child or young person and family in a 'Getting To Know You’ meeting also attended by the SEND Case Officer. Not all families consent to a social worker being involved with their family under section 17, and it is their right to do so.

The service endeavour to attend Year 9 reviews however, we recognise this is work in progress. 

Can the Local Authority please tell me the legal definition of a child in need?

A Child in Need, (CiN), is a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable level of health or development, or whose health and development is likely to be significantly or further impaired, without the provision of services; or a child who is disabled. (Children Act 1989, Section 17). Children with disabilities are regarded as Children in Need (CiN) under Section 17 of the Children Act (1989) and are therefore entitled to an assessment of their needs. For this purpose children are assessed under the definition of disability as outlined within the Children Act (1989) – Section 17 (11).
An assessment involves gathering information about a child and family, so that a decision can be made about what help he or she may need. Our assessments adopt a whole family approach and we will consider the needs of parents and carers within this process, however a parent can ask for an individual carer’s assessment. After an assessment has been completed a decision will be made about the level of a child’s needs and which services are required.

An assessment may determine that there is no need for services. The ‘Offer to children with disabilities and their families’ in Rutland outlines the services which are available to support children and young people with SEND and their families, including the thresholds for accessing services from the Children with Disabilities (CWD) social care service.

I am aware the Local Authority have legal advice and representation for tribunal appeals. Does the Local Authority seek legal advice generally, or do you have access to legal advice for other parts of the EHC process?

The Local Authority will access legal advice if it is deemed necessary to do so, throughout the SEND education health and care process.  This ensures that the Council's decision making and practice remains within the required legal parameters and is tested against the SEND Code of Practice. The decision to utilise legal advice needs senior management and governance oversight and approval and is used carefully with regard to the use of public money.

Are SEND Case Officers expected to have the legal training, or have knowledge of SEND Law themselves, or do they seek external advice?

SEND Case Officers have a sound working knowledge of the SEND Code of Practice and the Children and Families Act (2014).  They are not required as SEND Case Officers, to hold formal legal qualifications, however they have all had training from our Governance team and from legal contractors, which covers the EHC process and the Council's legal duties including decision making and associated regulations.  Case Officers have access to legal advice when it is deemed necessary.

How did Rutland County Council feel at being placed within the 'top 10 refusal to issue EHC plans' by Special Needs Jungle? I know the need for EHCP's may be at an all-time high, but we also need them for longer, for Young People of up to 25yrs, and they have to issue plans in line with the legislation and legal test.

Rutland County Council make all decisions regarding EHC needs assessments and plans in line with the Children and Families Act (2014) and the SEND Code of Practice and continue to do so.


As of May 2021, there were a total of 261 children and young people in Rutland with EHC Plans. There were 19 new EHC assessments requests in May 2021, and 15 assessments underway. All assessments were reviewed within the required timescales and 9 were refused assessment.

 
EHC plans are the not the only means of providing support for children and young people with special educational needs. Although the Council will refuse EHC plans for some children and young people, this is because other more appropriate forms of help and support are available. The % of new requests agreed in England in 2020 was 78.40% and in the East Midlands was 84.10%.

Why is the Sendiass role so limited in Rutland?

 SENDIASS Rutland currently provide impartial information advice and support (IAS) to families in Rutland and meet all the national standards which are based on the Children and Families Act 2014. The Rutland SENDIASS offer was based on an extensive consultation with families in Rutland who told us what was important to them.

The Rutland SENDIASS provides the following:

• Impartial information, advice and support (IAS) on the full range of education, health and social care as defined in the SEND Code of Practice to children, young people and parents in a range of ways which includes face to face, a telephone helpline, email, website and social media
• A stand-alone service website that is accessible to all service users
• Advocacy support for individual children, young people, and parents that empowers them to express their views and wishes and helps them to understand and exercise their rights in matters including exclusion, complaints, SEND processes, and SEND appeals.
• information, advice and support before, during and following a SEND Tribunal appeal in a range of different ways, dependent on the needs of the parent or young person. This will include representation during the hearing if the parent or young person is unable to do so.
• Training to local education, health and social care professionals, children, young people, and parents to increase knowledge of SEND law, guidance, local policy, issues and participation.


The capacity per head of SENDIASS Rutland is similar to that of neighbouring Local Authorities and the service receives very good feedback from families.

Does Rutland have a high percentage of children/people with SEND in comparison with size of the county and if so, where can this data be found please.

 The most recent data available is for 2020 and is published by the DfE and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-authority-interactive-tool-lait.

 The data for 2020 shows:


Rutland - % children with an EHCP = 2.9% and % children with SEN support = 13.6%.
Statistical neighbours average - % children with an EHCP = 3.33% and % children with SEN support = 11.45%
East Midlands - % children with an EHCP = 2.8% and % children with SEN support = 11.6%
England - % children with an EHCP = 3.3% and % children with SEN support = 12.1%.

 

As of January 2021, there were 430,697 children and young people with an EHCP, an in-year increase of 10%.

Why does Local Authority policy say a child must be enrolled at a school within Rutland to be eligible for support regarding the medical needs Policy? That is not a legal requirement and the Local Authority's policy is unlawful.

Our Medical Needs Policy is currently under review and a revised version will be published before the start of the new school year in September 2021. The Inclusion service is working with our neighbouring Local Authorities to align our policies and processes, to ensure children receive support from the appropriate Local Authority.  We acknowledge that there is no legal requirement for a child to be on roll at a school to access medical needs support and will be updating the Policy to reflect this, however it is our aim to provide a child or young person with the best package of support available to them.

 

Being on roll at a school provides a child with the option of access to the Hospital School, being supported by a range of school funded interventions, and which enables them to transition back into education with minimum disruption and have access to a wider offer of subjects whilst continuing to be part of the school community. 

There is a lack of Occupational Therapy input into EHC needs assessments - this could lead to failure to meet need. If the NHS are unable to do these, surely, the Local Authority should be commissioning private assessments for this?

Currently the local NHS Occupational Therapy  service provided by Leicestershire Partnership Trust will provide advice for the EHCP when the child is known to them.  They are not specifically commissioned to provide advice for children for the purpose of the EHCP assessment.

However, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Leicestershire Partnership Trust and the 3 Local Authorities for Leicester City, Leicestershire and Rutland are currently exploring ways to address this

Does the Local Authority acknowledge and are they aware that mental health needs are special educational needs, and that CAMHS class them as a disability, and that Mental Health needs do fall with within the remit of EHCP's

When mental health difficulties affect a child or young person's progress in education and a child or young person's mental health difficulties become a barrier to learning they may need special educational provision, such as  special educational needs support (SEN Support) in school. Children with social emotional and mental health needs can be supported in both mainstream and special or other provision through the EHCP (Education Health & Care Plan) process. However, the SEND service and the Early Help service will work with families and schools to meet the social and emotional needs of child as early as possible and through an early intervention plan if possible. The process for accessing support  via an EHCP is the same as for any child with special needs.

The Send community that needs the community dentist that need treatment have a huge waiting list. What can the LA do to ensure that our Send peoples oral health is the same as the rest of our county.

 We have escalated this to our Designated Clinical Officer for Children and Young People with SEND who has contacted NHS England to find out how this is being addressed. We have had the following response.

As you will be aware due to the impact of the pandemic, NHS dental services were closed in Quarter 1 of 2020.  Since last June, the focus has been to prioritise urgent care provision  and  restoring routine care whilst working to reduced activity targets.  All NHS dental services across primary, community and secondary care are focusing on restoration of services, managing backlogs and reviewing patients on waiting lists to determine clinical priority.

The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Special Care Dentistry Service have restored all clinic sites.  However, due to Infection Control and Prevention requirements has resulted in the Hinckley and Melton Mowbray clinics providing non aerosol generating procedures (AGP) to ensure patients and staff safety.  The throughput for each clinical session has been reduced due to complying with infection control and prevention standard operating procedures e.g., fallow time between patients.  Where a patient requires an AGP, patients are being given the choice to receive treatment at an alternative clinic located in Leicester city or at Loughborough, if they are willing to travel.  In addition, the service is adapting and flexing clinics to manage impact of patients and/or staff, who are required to self-isolate.  As a result, this has had a significant impact on patients on waiting times. However, the service is undertaking regular reviews of patients on the waiting list to determine clinical priority. 

To support with restoration of services, providers have had the opportunity to submit non recurrent investment business cases to address waiting list backlogs for consideration.  We continue to work with providers to restore/recovery of services.

If a parent or guardian is concerned regarding the waiting time, we would advise they contact the service to discuss their concerns and they can review.

There is a lack of special school places and provision in Rutland. What do RCC intend to do about it? The DSP units at Catmose, UCC and Oakham C of E are not enough. What are RCC intending to do about the SEND school places crisis, in particular for children who fall into the SLD category?

SEND school places are funded through the High Needs Budget (HNB) of the Dedicated Schools Grant, this is administered by Rutland County Council for schools and overseen by Schools Forum (SF). Schools Forum have committed an additional investment to increase capacity within mainstream schools to support children and young people with SEND to enable them to be maintained in Rutland schools, all of the actions are contained in a SEND Recovery Plan. With the increase in requests for Education Health and Care plans (EHCPs), reflective of the national picture of increasing numbers of EHCPs, it is recognised that there are pressures on school places for children with plans.

 

The investment that schools form have made over the next 4 years is focused on creating sustainable capacity and capability in schools so that children can benefit from mainstream places wherever possible with an EHCP rather than needing specialist education provision.

 

With regard to Speech Language and Communication needs (SLCN), Rutland will have dedicated resource from September. A senior level SLT practitioner, employed by Leicestershire Primary Trust but funded by schools HNB will be working with all education settings to help them in their practice to better respond to children’s needs and to assist in creating rich, positive, Speech, Language and Communication environments from Early Years through to Secondary school. This should ensure that children’s needs are picked up and responded to with excellent and sustained practice and they are not impeded in their learning, over time this should ensure that fewer children require an EHCP for Speech and Language needs, and that more children are able to access local mainstream education places with their peers and in their local community in line with the SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2020.

In addition to this investment, the Government Department for Education (DfE) have provided further capital budget in the form of an additional £500k High Needs Provision Capital Allocations grant to allow Rutland to increase the availability of facilities for children with SEND EHCPs locally. The pressure for places currently is particularly at secondary mainstream phase, and work is underway in partnership to deliver additional facilities with one of our secondary schools. There are currently 5 Designated Special Provision places at Catmose College and 2 Enhanced Resource Provision places at Uppingham Community College (UCC) in each year group, the UCC provision is most particularly aimed children with communication and interaction needs including children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

There is a lack of special school places and provision in Rutland. What do RCC intend to do about it? The DSP units at Catmose, UCC and Oakham C of E are not enough. What are RCC intending to do about the SEND school places crisis, in particular for children who fall into the SLD category?

SEND school places are funded through the High Needs Budget (HNB) of the Dedicated Schools Grant, this is administered by Rutland County Council for schools and overseen by Schools Forum (SF). Schools Forum have committed an additional investment to increase capacity within mainstream schools to support children and young people with SEND to enable them to be maintained in Rutland schools, all of the actions are contained in a SEND Recovery Plan. With the increase in requests for Education Health and Care plans (EHCPs), reflective of the national picture of increasing numbers of EHCPs, it is recognised that there are pressures on school places for children with plans.

 

The investment that schools form have made over the next 4 years is focused on creating sustainable capacity and capability in schools so that children can benefit from mainstream places wherever possible with an EHCP rather than needing specialist education provision.

 

With regard to Speech Language and Communication needs (SLCN), Rutland will have dedicated resource from September. A senior level SLT practitioner, employed by Leicestershire Primary Trust but funded by schools HNB will be working with all education settings to help them in their practice to better respond to children’s needs and to assist in creating rich, positive, Speech, Language and Communication environments from Early Years through to Secondary school. This should ensure that children’s needs are picked up and responded to with excellent and sustained practice and they are not impeded in their learning, over time this should ensure that fewer children require an EHCP for Speech and Language needs, and that more children are able to access local mainstream education places with their peers and in their local community in line with the SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2020.

In addition to this investment, the Government Department for Education (DfE) have provided further capital budget in the form of an additional £500k High Needs Provision Capital Allocations grant to allow Rutland to increase the availability of facilities for children with SEND EHCPs locally. The pressure for places currently is particularly at secondary mainstream phase, and work is underway in partnership to deliver additional facilities with one of our secondary schools. There are currently 5 Designated Special Provision places at Catmose College and 2 Enhanced Resource Provision places at Uppingham Community College (UCC) in each year group, the UCC provision is most particularly aimed children with communication and interaction needs including children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Given what has happened during the pandemic, and therefore the flexibility in short breaks, this has enabled some families to access short breaks, who have never accessed short breaks before (due to the rigid rules,) and so enabled more children with disabilities to access things not normally available to them. Would the council consider adjusting the short break rigid rules to give more parents/children flexibility in his to spend the funding?

The aim of the Short Breaks Scheme is to provide parents and carers with a break from their caring responsibilities as well as allowing children and young people to have some fun, develop social skills and independence. The funding has always been flexible in that it can be used for any extra costs incurred due to the additional needs of a child or young person when creating a short break.  Families tell us that these short breaks have a positive impact on their family. Flexibility to purchase resources was only given during the pandemic because families were spending much more time at home and for some periods were unable to create short breaks due to the restrictions and risks involved. The learning from the Covid 19 arrangements and feedback from families can be reviewed in conjunction with RPCV to see if changes to the model are both beneficial and feasible.

Why are there no specialist parenting courses offered for parents of children with special needs?

Parent support drop in sessions and parenting courses are run by Rutland Count Council's Early Help service. These are open to all families as many parenting strategies are universal to all children or can be adapted to suit the needs of a child with SEND. The Centre for Fun and Families also offer support across the region.  ADHD solutions offer specialist advice and support and run 1,2,3 Magic parenting courses online. This support is open to families in Rutland who have a child diagnosed with or suspected of having ADHD. The Early Help service run a monthly support group for parents with a child diagnosed or suspected of having autism. These sessions offer information, support and advice about autism as well as strategies to manage behaviour – the sessions are shaped by families’ needs. Please contact the Early Help Front door if you would like to discuss any of the parenting support available.

During the pandemic, Sunflowers special needs playgroup were forced to cease. Why did RCC not offer any support to the only group available to parents and children with send under 5?

Sunflowers is a voluntary group run by dedicated volunteers. The group were represented throughout the pandemic at regular SEND support co-ordination meetings where discussions took place regarding what could take place safely.  Due to Covid restrictions, Oakham school were unable to continue to provide a venue for the group. Even when restrictions have allowed, finding suitable, safe venues has been challenging for all groups during this period. Once the restrictions started to ease, Sunflowers were offered access to Visions Children’s Centre however as this would be based on a strictly limited number and no swimming pool access, this was not thought to be suitable.


The Parks School is the special needs provision for children aged 2-5 years  in Oakham and was open in line with government guidelines throughout the pandemic. Visions Children’s Centre provide inclusive support and a variety of group sessions for families with young children. Support was provided via telephone-, online sessions (live and recorded) and in some cases face to face support throughout the pandemic. The Rutland Rotaract Family Support Centre supports all families with children with SEND. This well respected, local charity continued to run their Friday Drop in sessions online during the lockdown periods and face to face when they felt it was safe to do so. As the committee were conscious that Sunflowers were not able to meet, extra drop in sessions were run on Thursdays and were aimed at those families with the youngest children.

Is it standard policy or procedure of the Local Authority (whether formally or informally,) to say no to any parental request for ECH needs assessments - and for issuing plans after needs assessments? Does the Local Authority apply the legal test for EHC needs assessments? Do the Local Authority know what the legal test for EHC Needs Assessments is? Do the Local Authority apply the legal test for issuing EHC Plans? Do the Authority know what the legal test is for issuing EHC Plans is?

The Local Authority’s practice is underpinned by the relevant legislation and guidance.  All of the assessment and planning processes and practice undertaking by the SEND service adhere to the Children and Families Act (2014) and the SEND Code of Practice.

 
Each individual EHC needs assessment request is considered based on a child's needs and responded to in the same manner regardless of who makes that request.


If an EHC needs assessment is agreed, the same process is followed for all cases, regardless of who the requestor is.  This process facilitates the gathering of robust information from colleagues in Education, Health and Social Care which are combined with the views of the child and family.  Information from the needs assessment is presented to the multi-agency SEND Panel who act as the decision making body.  Through this Panel a decision is made to issue or to decline to issue an EHC Plan.

If they do not apply the legal tests to the above, which tests is it, that the Local Authority apply?

All needs assessment requests received by the Local Authority are subject to the legal test for EHC needs assessments at per Section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act (2014) and the SEND Code of Practice.

The Local Authority use Section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act (2014) and the SEND Code of Practice as a basis for all decision making.  The test applied to all EHC needs assessment requests is:

The Local Authority must secure an EHC needs assessment for the child or young person if, after having regard to any views expressed and evidence submitted under subsection (7), the authority is of the opinion that:


(a) the child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and
(b) it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.


This test is applied by the multiagency SEND Panel to every EHC needs assessment request.

Upon completion of an EHC needs assessment the findings are presented to the multi-agency SEND Panel who must apply the legal test for issuing EHC plans as part of the decision-making process. The Local Authority use Section 37(1) of the Children and Families Act (2014) and the SEND Code of Practice as a basis for all decision making. 

The test applied to all EHC plans requests is:

Where, in the light of an EHC needs assessment, it is necessary for special educational provision to be made for a child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan:

(a)the local authority must secure that an EHC plan is prepared for the child or young person, and

(b)once an EHC plan has been prepared, it must maintain the plan.

This test is applied to all EHC plan decisions and is the only test used by the Local Authority when determining whether to issue an EHC Plan.

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