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Special Schools not managed by the Council

Special Schools not managed by the Council

March 2018 – Information and Guidance – Special Schools

Important information for Parents and Carers about how the Council buys placements in special schools not managed by the Council (non-maintained and independent special schools) referred to as ‘settings’ or ‘Providers’ throughout this document, for Children and Young People aged 0 – 25 years.

Introduction

From February 2016 the Council changed the way in which we arranged placements for Children and Young People in non-maintained and independent special schools. This included day placements, weekly and termly boarder placements and full residential placements. These arrangements were known as the NE12+ Framework Agreement (phase one).

These arrangements have now been reviewed and revised. New arrangements have been put in place from February 2018 and are known locally as NE12 (phase two).

The new arrangements expanded to cover more services than in NE12+ (phase one) and now include how the Council buys placements in:

  1. Department for Education registered, independent special schools and colleges; day placements, weekly boarder placements and 52-week residential placements. All placements in these settings for Children and Young People 0 – 25 years,
  2. Residential Children’s Homes for Children and Young People aged 0 – 18 years,
  3. Ofsted Registered Residential Short Break Services for Children and Young People 0 – 18 years.
Explaining the new arrangements

New arrangements for making placements, in special schools and colleges not managed by the Council, are explained more fully below.

We know that change can cause concern and would like Parents and Carers to know that:

  • There will be no change to placements for Children and Young People who are already in educational settings; changes will only affect placements made after 1 February 2018 (including where a child or young person is changing school/college).
  • Parents, Carers, Children and Young People will continue to have a say in which school or college they would like to attend.
  • The new arrangements will still allow Parents and Carers, education, social care and health professionals and the Council to ‘tailor make’ support to meet the individual needs of Children and Young People. The changes mean that all settings in future will offer the same quality of learning and support to Children and Young People. Each setting will provide a core offer of services alongside additional services which will meet each individual Child or Young Person’s needs.
  • The Council will be implementing systems that allow us to monitor the quality of services provided to Children and Young People and to take Parents’ and Carers’ views into account as part of this process; where things may need improving we will work with settings to make things better.

We still need to offer high quality education to Children and Young People with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) across the City while ensuring the efficient use of our limited public resources.

You may not be aware that the Council is also required by law to buy services in line with the new Public Contracts Regulations 2015 which means we can no longer arrange placements in the way we did before.

We need to arrange those placements in the most efficient way possible while ensuring that the needs of Children and Young People are of the upmost priority.

The Council has been working with ten other Councils across the North East, our health colleagues, legal colleagues, SEN Managers and settings to ensure we can continue to deliver high quality services to all Children and Young People while working within restricted budgets; this group is called the NE12 Collaborative.

What will the new arrangements look like?

From February 2018 the Council will be using a Flexible Procurement Agreement (FPA) to make placements in Department of Education registered, non-maintained and independent special schools and colleges for Children and Young People aged 0 – 25 years.

This means that the following process will be followed:

  • A Child or Young Person’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) or Statement of SEN will identify their needs and what type of support they will require;
  • The Council will then send all the relevant information anonymised to the Providers on the FPA and ask them to respond to questions about whether they could meet the Child/Young Person’s needs and how they would do that;
  • If a Parent or Young Person says that they wish to have a placement at a particular setting and the Provider of that setting is not on the FPA, we will approach the preferred provider at the same time as our FPA Providers.
  • The Council will then consider the responses that have been received and determine which Provider’s response is best;
  • The Council may not consider that the preferred Provider is the best placement to meet the Child/Young Person’s needs. If that is the case, the Council will discuss that with the Parent/Young Person before making a final determination on placement;
  • The Council is not required to make a placement with the preferred Provider if that placement would not be suitable; or if the placement could not manage the Child or Young Person because of those already placed in that setting; or the additional cost of the preferred placement is so much that the Council cannot justify that use of its resources when other Providers can offer an appropriate service to meet the individual’s identified needs;
  • Parents and Carers may decide to take a Personal Budget by Direct Payment and work directly with a Provider to purchase additional services over and above the core service offer to meet their Child/Young Person’s assessed needs. Arrangements for accessing a Direct Payment need to be raised with the Council responsible for your Child/Young Person.
Contact if you have questions

The Council knows that this new process may raise some questions and we are continuing to work with local and regional Parents’ Forums across the North East region to further brief parents’ representatives on the process and to ensure appropriate Parent/Carer representation for the monitoring of these new arrangements.

If you have questions about these arrangements that cannot be resolved with the help and support of the professionals you are already working with please contact Angela Jamson, Commissioner Social Care for Newcastle City Council (angela.jamson@newcastle.gov.uk).

If you feel that the placement for your Child is not being properly addressed through the NE12 Flexible Procurement Agreement please contact Rhonda Eagle, Collaborative Procurement Manager for Newcastle City Council (rhonda.eagle@newcastle.gov.uk).

If you need to make a complaint about services purchased under the NE12 Flexible Procurement Agreement please contact Newcastle City Council’s complaints team complaintspeople@newcastle.gov.uk.

If you disagree with a decision the local authority has made about the education assessment and/or provision for your Child you can also get information, advice and support from The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS), telephone 0191 284 0480.  The service can also put you in touch with the informal arrangements set up to help prevent or resolve any disagreements between you and Newcastle City Council. You can also contact Chapel Mediation and Consultancy Service at St Clare’s Chapel, Victoria Road, Barnard Castle, County Durham, DL12 8HR or telephone 07792 227 526 / 01833 630 309 in relation to mediation and disagreement resolution services. Using any of these services does not affect your rights to appeal to the independent Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Parents and Young People who wish to make an appeal to the Tribunal may do so only after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser. The adviser will provide information on mediation and answer any questions which you may have. Following this, if you decide not to go to mediation, the adviser will issue a certificate to enable an appeal to be registered. If you decide to proceed with mediation then a certificate will also be provided once the mediation is completed. If you still wish to appeal to the tribunal you should do so within two months of receiving this letter or one month from the date of a certificate being issued, whichever is the later.

Information on how to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal can be obtained from:

HM Courts & Tribunals Service
Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal
1st Floor, Darlington Magistrates’ Court
Parkgate, Darlington
DL1 1RU

The telephone number of the Tribunal is 01325 289 350 and they have a website at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/send. You can obtain a claim form from them.