Surrey County Council is changing the way children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are allocated residential accommodation in Surrey’s maintained residential special schools. By residential accommodation, we mean overnight provision. This change only applies to those schools who already have residential accommodation. It does not apply to the school placement process itself (which will remain unchanged) but to the offer of overnight residential provision.
We have already had some discussion with the schools concerned, as well as a group of parents and carers. Now we are consulting more widely with parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and with other stakeholders, to:
hear your views
ensure that you understand the change taking place, and why
listen to any issues you may have around the timing of the change and the transition to the new arrangements.
A summary of the change is provided below, and through the Surrey Background and Surrey Consultation overview documents.
Why We Are Consulting
What is changing?
We are changing the way children with special educational needs and disabilities get overnight provision in our special schools with residential facilities. We want to ensure that the process is fair, transparent and consistent across Surrey, so that parents and carers know what to expect and how the process works.
At the moment, the decision around whether a child is offered overnight provision is a local decision made at school level. The law now makes it clear that the decision should be made as part of the assessment of a child’s needs in his or her Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP). That means the overnight provision has to be written into the plan, and not decided separately.
Why is this important?
This change will make the process fairer and clearer, and will avoid one school having a different policy to another. It is also a legal requirement, which is set out in the SEND Code of Practice in the Children and Families Act (2014). It applies to all councils in England, and says that an EHCP must describe how the whole package of support for a child or young person, including residential accommodation, will help them achieve the best possible educational outcomes.
How will this happen?
We will introduce new criteria and a new process for making decisions about residential accommodation that brings us in line with the SEND Code of Practice. The proposed criteria for residential accommodation are:
if the child or young person has needs that require support in a residential place to make the right educational progress (including their social development and transition to adult life).
if the distance between the school and home is such that travel times are overlong or stressful.
The decision-making process for this will be integrated with the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process and will be based on the assessment of the child or young person's needs.
When will this happen?
This will not all happen overnight, so we will have a transition period from the old system to the new criteria to allow families and schools to make any necessary adjustments. After this consultation closes at the end of March 2017 a report will go to Surrey County Council’s Cabinet to approve any changes, which will take effect from a date to be decided as a result of this consultation.
What about children already in a residential placement?
We are proposing that everyone will stay in their existing residential accommodation for a year after the date this change comes into effect, after which their needs will be assessed against the new criteria as part of their annual review. However there is a question (question 3) about this in the consultation.
Going forward, Surrey is also likely to be reviewing the amount of residential accommodation it currently has. This proposed additional review will consider current and future demand alongside the affordability of overnight provision. Please note that there will be a separate review for this question and there will be a separate consultation on any changes proposed.
The current consultation is about the fairest way to allocate residential accommodation not about how much accommodation there is. Please give us your views.