Independent Send Review Bristol:
The results of an Independent Review into Send Failure in Bristol that took place this summer, has been published as a data review.
At Cabinet on Tuesday 02 July 2019, Cabinet member with responsibility for Education and Skills, Councillor Anna Keen, said there would be an independent review into Bristol’s difficulties dealing with Send.
Anna Keen talked about the need for an independent review during agenda item Resourcing Plan for Send Function.
The document informed Cabinet about the council’s non-compliance with Statutory duties to children and young people with Send (Special Educational Needs and Disability). It also covers the steps the council had already taken to improve performance and sought approval to increase capacity in Send and Educational Psychology.
In her speech, Councillor Keen said that “there is clear government under funding, however, Bristol has deeply concerning issues that go beyond the experiences of many other local authorities. These have, in the past, and I am told the cause of this problem goes back nine years and therefore across administrations, these have not always been fully open to us as elected members and the severity of the issues facing families has not always been transparent.”
She continued to say that the Resourcing Plan for Send Function delivers “much needed’ resource to Bristol’s Sen team also “makes clear we will not tolerate further delays for our families and young people.”
Continuing, she said: “There has been a clear failure in this council and I, along with the executive director for people have announced an independent review this week of the processes and practices that need to be urgently carried out. This review will report directly to the head of paid service and to myself and the recommendations will be delivered by a steering group of senior officers and myself with independent support. The failures on delivering EHCPs which are education, health care plans are just not acceptable. We are failing the most vulnerable children in our city. We will have high expectations of everyone who works with children”
The commissioned report was an Independent Review of Send data and performance system and processes, carried out by Samantha Freeman. The specification stated: ‘Following the identification of previously unknown level of poor performance in delivery of statutory timescales and team outputs, the Political and Directorate Leadership have commissioned an Independent Review’.
The Objectives of the Review included understanding and reporting on factors causing declined performance in statutory assessment, including focusing on timeliness of assessments and the processing of annual reviews. It was to also look at performance data and the processes moving from an old system to a new.
Other questions to be addressed were: what has gone wrong in the development of appropriate performance processes to meet the recommendations of the LGA Peer Review, limitations on data and the Liquid Logic System, barriers to understanding data as well as strategic and operational performance.
The final result was a SEND Data Independent Review. The findings and recommendations in the review are based on interviews with Bristol City Council managers involved in the Send process. The focus was on data, how it was managed, shared, processed, stored and with how performance could be improved by better utilising the information.
As part of the review, the EYES Project Plan – a case management system which ran for three years ending in March 2019 – was requested. However, ‘due to changes in personnel’ the documents were not made available.
Other discrepancies include reference to the The LGA Peer Review being in November 2018, when in fact, it took place in January 2018. A quote from the LGA Peer Review included: “… Poor performance has been tolerated and data quality has not been challenged by local area partners ….Tolerance of inaccurate data and poor service delivery which might be historical, yet the same problems remain … performance data is not effectively used to inform, or measure improvement priorities,” all of which were highlighted eleven months before the Send Data Review found.
The review did not track individual cases through the Send process. Perhaps if this had happened, a much better picture of the failures of the system might have emerged. Whilst there is a clear failure in utilising data to improve performance and streamline the process, the kind of failures families are experiencing go much further than the processing of information.
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