Bristol Written Statement of Action Will Fail to Meet Some July Milestones due to Coronavirus
Co-production with parents and school attendance issues in Bristol regarding children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) will remain an issue until Bristol City Council is able to work ‘creatively’ to tackle related Ofsted failings with its Written Statement of Action (WSoA).
In an update to Bristol Schools Forum on 20 May 2020, Director of Education and Skills Alison Hurley, addressed forum members through an online Zoom meeting open to the public, giving an update about work taking place on the WSoA.
In her update she said: “In terms of the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) we received the confirmation that the action plan was fit for purpose and that has now been published and is available on the Local Offer, it was also sent to all school leaders through the bulletin.
“Just to reassure you that the WSoA absolutely remains a key priority for us at the council and we’re really working hard to safeguard this work against the key milestones and there are obviously a number of key milestones given that there were five very very in-depth areas of weakness that we have to address over the next 18 months.
“That work is taking place at the moment and as I say we are making sure that we are not redeploying or redirecting and of those critical service areas that are delivering against those milestones in terms of COVID activity.”
She said that some of the July milestones are going to be ‘harder to deliver’ though much of the work on them had already begun, including activities around co-production sessions with Bristol SendCos before coronavirus lockdown. Fifty per cent of the milestones have already been achieved with officers looking at ‘creative ways to over come some of barriers’.
Hurley said she would be bringing a report to July Bristol Schools Forum as well as providing information on the Local Offer website concerning what challenges remain meeting WSoA targets.
Continuing she said “Some areas relating to pressures to respond to front line work for COVID, particularly thinking about colleagues in health as they obviously have significant pressures through their sector.”
Co production work with families and young people was one of the areas of concern, with Hurley saying: “We’re looking in detail at some of the milestones that are either RAG rated Amber as in we need to think of a creative way to overcome some of the barriers, or those that are Red and not able to be delivered through this current climate and I’m thinking particularly obvious ones are going to be possibly some of the co-production work we need to think creatively about how we develop that through this period with our families and young people. But also obvious issues with the fact that technically schools are closed so if we think about some of those priorities in Priority 4 related to attendance of children and young people with Send that milestone in there isn’t necessarily one we can deliver against for July.”
Improvement Priority 4 in the WSoA states: ‘The underachievement and lack of inclusion of children and young people with SEND, including the high rates of persistent absenteeism’.
Impact Measures are: Reduce the overall rate of Fixed Term exclusions for children and young people with EHCPs (all Bristol schools) in line with the England average
Reduce the overall rate of Persistent Absence for children and young people with EHCPs (all Bristol schools) in line with the England average
Some of the July milestones include the setting up of a ‘Belonging’ task group to drive culture change across Bristol’s schools and settings, creating ‘centres of excellence in inclusive practice’ with ‘barriers to inclusion identified’ and provided to task group planning.
Fixed Term Exclusion (FTE) will be tackled with a multi-agency task and finish group – including parents and carers – to identify and create a system-wide approach to look at the different reasons that cause pupil absence.
A ‘Leading Edge’ Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) guidance will be developed and shared with health, social care and education settings to offer different alternatives to ‘binary/zero tolerence behaviour policies in schools and settings’.
Ensuring schools places meet the needs of children and young people in line with the SEN Code of Practice should have happened as well as a ‘mapping exercise’ to look at a ‘sufficiency strategy’ for specialist place planning and forecast demand.
A You Said We Did report was released by the council this month, put together in partnership with Bristol Parent Carers and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups.
It said that ‘ensuring co-production is sustained and front and centre of everything we do’. Reviewing the boards and structures will take place to make sure ‘the right people (including parents and carers) are involved at different levels of decision making, and we have simple and clear systems in place to hold leaders to account’.
It continues to say: ‘Where things aren’t going well, we work together with parents and carers to find out what needs to change and how we can improve, so children and young people with SEND have the right, good quality services at the right time.’
When it came to lack of inclusion and high rates of persistent absenteeism and fixed-term exclusions, the report said it was working with partners in education and health to make sure the Local Offer has ‘better, joined up services’ to reduce the risk of those with Send being excluded.
The council would be working ‘more closely’ with schools and settings to provide training and support to make sure they are meeting the needs of those with Send so that everyone can ‘access their right to a good education’. It states: ‘together we stop Bristol from being one of the highest excluding areas in the country’.
The report also says it will support schools to make the ‘best use’ of available resources to put in place EHCP provision and will make sure that Bristol has enough specialist provision.
The You Said We Did report, was published on 21 May 2020, though so far we have not seen this published through any of Bristol City Council’s social media channels or that of Bristol Parent Carers’. It can be found online here: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/web/bristol-local-offer/ofsted-updates
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