Rutland County Council answer some questions asked via Rutland Parent Carer Voice.
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.
What is the criteria for getting a Blue Badge for a hidden disability and who makes this decision at the Council?
The criteria for issuing Blue Badges is set out in the Government guidance which is used by assessors. A summary is set out on the Government website.
You may be eligible if your condition results in a severe struggle with journeys between a vehicle and your destination. This may include people who:
- are a constant significant risk to themselves or others near vehicles, in traffic or car parks, or
- regularly find it difficult or impossible to control their actions and lack awareness of the impact they could have on others, or
- regularly have intense and overwhelming responses to situations, causing temporary loss of behavioural control, or
- frequently become extremely anxious or fearful of public or open spaces.
Applicants are unlikely to qualify if the presence of someone supporting the applicant negates the risk and reduces or prevents the psychological distress caused.
Further details of how to apply can be found on the Rutland County Council website.
The Council has trained several staff who assess applications and we also have access to independent assessors, should we need to use one.
The Aiming High Short Breaks Scheme is available to children and young people aged 5 to 25 years old who live in Rutland, are not receiving support from social care and either:
- receive higher level Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for care needs
- have a place at a special school (excluding DSPs) that is funded by Rutland County Council and are in receipt of mid-rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for care needs
Full details of the Aiming High Short Breaks Scheme can be found here.
In addition to our transport policies, we have a Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ) page to assist parents in applying the policies to their individual circumstances. The policies and transport FAQ’s can be found here https://www.rutland.gov.uk/my-community/transport/school-and-college-transport/
In addition to this, the Transport operations team are contactable by emailing email@example.com at any time with any queries. A presentation of transport services for parents/carers of SEND students was offered on 5th November 2020 to provide an opportunity to further explain how transport entitlement and service delivery works. This was not well attended but the team are open to hosting further events in the future if there is a need for this.
We endeavour to provide specificity throughout an EHCP, to ensure the Council is compliant with the SEND Code of Practice, and to ensure it is clear to everyone reading the EHCP, the provision that is being made for a child. There are, however, times where too much specification may not be in the interest of the child and could in fact be detrimental to the delivery of his/her education.
There may be occasions when providing specificity could create too much rigidity and removes the school’s ability to be flexible and responsive to a child. For example, some days a child may require more play opportunities, and on others he/she may be very engaged in more formal work and school may wish to extend this area. Parents and school will work together to trust that the right mix of play and challenge will be provided. Education, health and social care professionals writing advice for an EHCP are unable to predict exactly how a child will respond to an activity, and schools must be able to be responsive to a child when delivering provision, to enhance his/her progress and learning.
To be so specific and rigid in the wording of an EHCP removes the flexibility of the Teaching Assistant and/or Teacher to adjust support in varying situations.
In some cases, if certain types of interventions and specific programmes are named in an EHCP, school may have other resources and programmes well matched to the needs of the child but are unable to deliver what is specified in the EHCP, meaning a potentially well matched placement could be lost.
Case Officers at Rutland County Council, strive to work in a collaborative way with parents, schools, and professionals to ensure the EHCP is a true reflection of each child’s needs, and that the provision specified supports him/her to secure the best possible outcomes across education, health and social care.
What training and support is in place to make sure that RCC staff are fully up to date with what is required in EHC needs assessments, plans and transport?
There is a requirement for all Rutland County Council staff to undergo mandatory training when they start working at the Council followed by regular professional development. This includes staff completing accredited training to improve the quality of their work with children with disabilities. The SEND Case Officers, and children with disability social workers undertake training such as disability awareness, sign language, brain development, attachment, effective commissioning of placements.
Staff are involved in regional training events and meetings with SEND teams from other Local Authorities which include parent representatives, such as mediation, working with the legal framework and Code of Practice, moderating the quality of EHCP assessments and Plans.
Staff receive monthly case supervision from a qualified senior supervisor.
EHCPS are subject to our quality assurance process and are audited monthly.
Please refer to the Council’s comments, compliments and complaints policy which lays out the way the Council can deal with concerns or issues raised by its customers: https://www.rutland.gov.uk/my-council/have-your-say/comments-compliments-and-complaints/
Para 3.2 states that the department will determine how the issue will be dealt with. This will be in one of the following ways:
• As a Service Request – This is defined as an issue that the Council has not had the opportunity to remedy. If the Council fails to solve the issue the matter would be treated as a complaint.
• As a complaint under the Children’s social care complaints policy and procedure – This policy and procedure will be followed when there is a concern related to the direct welfare of a child.
• As a complaint under the Compliments, comments and complaints policy – This policy will be followed for all other complaints that do not fall under the Children’s social care complaints policy and procedure.
So, for example, if customers are dissatisfied with a particular service, they are encouraged to contact the Council through our complaints process. We will deal with a single service failure as a service request. If it is not resolved and the customer contacts the Council again, we will escalate through the complaints process appropriately. We operate a two stage complaints process, which gives the complainant the right to have their complaint reviewed at more senior levels should they be dissatisfied with the outcome of the initial response.
Para 4.5 states that there are certain complaints that will not be dealt with under the policy because there are specific policies and processes for dealing with these. For example regarding special educational needs and disability (SEND) issues, such as a customer dissatisfied with the application of eligibility and assessment criteria or a decision to assess or provide an Education Health and Care plan (EHCP), do have an alternative route for resolution. From September 2014 the Special educational needs and disability regulations 2014 and the Special educational needs and disability 0-25 code of practice 2014 came into force, therefore, issues will be responded to under these regulations. Such matters may be responded to as a service request – this is defined as an issue that the Council has not had the opportunity to remedy. If the Council fails to solve the issue the matter would be treated as a complaint.
The numbers of complaints regarding Children's SEND service in the last two years up to October 2020 was 6. These complaints are dealt with by the SEND service utilising the corporate comments, compliments and complaints policy and process. The first stage in this process will be to provide a service response, as matters pertaining to the SEND code of practice will determine this first level response.
A report on comments, compliments and complaints goes to the Audit and Risk Committee. The last annual compliments, comments and complaints report taken to Audit and Risk Committee can be found in the following link: https://rutlandcounty.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=2107
13 SEND cases have been brought to the SEND Tribunal in the last two years. The nature of these cases is:
• Parental appeal against RCC’s decision not to assess a child
• Parental appeal against RCC’s decision not to issue an (EHCP)
• Parental appeal against sections of the EHCP.
There are 5 SEND cases currently in appeal, with an outcome yet to be reached.
The outcome of the cases which went to Tribunal in the last two years was:
• 5 cases - Conceded prior to Tribunal hearing.
• 5 cases - Agreement reached prior to Tribunal hearing.
• 2 cases - Local Authority position upheld at Tribunal.
• 1 case – Tribunal directed amendment to EHC plan.
RCC has spent the following on legal fees responding to SEND tribunals:
2019/20 - £5,000
2020/21 - £24,000
Our understanding from our legal team is that in the last 2 years, 5 cases have gone to a hearing where the legal contractor has represented RCC. Our experience is that hearings are informal and not intended to be intimidating for parents, as the Judge will always look to put the parent at ease and allow the parent to have their say and be listened to. Parents may have their own representation whether that is their own lawyer or SENDIASS.
We include reports received as part of the initial assessment and these are listed in section K on the EHCP. Following annual reviews, we may obtain updated reports, and these will be shared with the parent/carer as we go through the review process and referenced in the amended plan. The new reports would be attached but not the ‘old’ ones which were sent with previous versions. To include everything would make this process unwieldly
How are schools and the LA planning to support transition into secondary school and college this year under Covid restrictions?
The annual review process will help with this as Case Officers will make every effort to attend reviews at key transition points. We are aware that many schools and colleges have or are developing ‘virtual’ tours of their establishments. Uppingham Community College have done this and it is reported to be even better than the usual way of going to an open event and queuing with lots of other families! The Council is still using the consultation process to identify the right school to meet the needs of individual children.
SEND Case Officers will attend annual reviews at key transition points whenever possible and subject to Officer capacity and availability. We are particular keen to prioritise early years transition to primary, year 6 and year 9 and year 11 reviews. And for children Looked After, annual reviews will also include liaison with the social worker and/or Virtual Head. The CWD Social worker will attend reviews if they are involved with the family and Year 9 reviews to capture social care needs at this key transition point for preparing for independence.
My child’s EHCP states that he can access Aiming High activities. When will he be able to do so again?
Since the Covid restrictions were introduced in March 2020, the Aiming High team have worked hard to develop an online offer which currently includes most of the activities and support which were in place before the pandemic. With careful planning, the team were able to safely provide some face to face Youth Chaos and Youth Forum sessions in the summer as well as restarting trampolining. Since Lockdown 2.0, all face to face sessions have had to be suspended in line with restrictions, however as soon as these are eased and it is safe to do so, face to face activity will be risk assessed and planned where possible and appropriate.
You have a right to electively home educate your child if you wish. It remains the responsibility of Rutland County Council if your child lives in Rutland or the Local Authority where your child lives to ensure that your child’s needs are met. If your child is attending a special school, Rutland County Council must give consent for your child’s name to be removed from the school roll.
For more detail see link: EHE Frequently asked questions and guidance
Can I receive a penalty notice if I choose not to send my child to school throughout the Covid 19 period? Can I receive a penalty notice for taking my children out of school for a holiday in term time throughout the pandemic?
From the start of the Autumn term 2020 pupil attendance in school resumed as mandatory and the usual rules on attendance apply, including:
• parents’ duty to ensure that their child of compulsory school age attends regularly at the school where the child is a registered pupil
• the ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices.
The inclusion team will work with schools to ensure that families are supported throughout the pandemic where there are school attendance concerns.
For more information see link: DFE School Attendance Guidance