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Children and young people are fulfilling their potential and achieving their goals through local inclusive education opportunities

Last Updated 18/08/2021 4:35pm


All children and young people have a right to a good education to achieve their goals in life, to thrive and have improved life chances. For many children adjustments to the environment can support their needs for some children specialist support is needed.  We have high ambitions for all young people with SEND to be able to achieve in school, college, university, for their futures and in their local communities.

The Graduated Response Tool is used by professionals in education settings to identify, assess and record the needs of children and young people who may require special educational provision and to ensure early support to meet needs.

As a result of the impact of COVID-19 we have seen an increase in the needs of some children particularly in Social Emotional and Mental Health needs.  We have undertaken a regular review of data throughout the pandemic and determined additional investment needed to reach out through early help but also to support children in their return to school. This section of the Joint Commissioning Plan will set out the arrangements to secure sufficient support services to enable children to participate fully in inclusive education.

Local needs

In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the proportion of Devon’s pupil population who have an EHCP, alongside a steady level of those with SEN support. The total number of EHCPs has almost doubled over the last four years. Most of this increase has come from increasing numbers of children and young people being diagnosed with autism, as well as SEMH and SLCN. More detail can be found in appendix 1.0.

Pupils with SEND in Devon’s schools perform better, throughout much of their school life, than their peers across the country. The average GCSE Attainment 8 score for young people with a SEN statement is 15.3, compared with 13.5 across England. 18.3% of young people with a SEN statement in Devon achieve level 2 or higher English and Maths by age 19. Nationally, this is only 14.8%. Despite this progress, however, educational outcomes for pupils with SEND remain behind the wider school population. The average Attainment 8 score is 44.6 for all pupils during the academic year 2017/18[34].

LGInform report: Average Attainment 8 score in Devon 2017/18, available online at: Average Attainment 8 score in Devon | LG Inform (

Where we are now

Education and Inclusion Services

Support for children and young people with SEND in education settings is commissioned by Devon County Council (Education and Learning) through the Education and Inclusion Services contract with Babcock LDP, which includes all support services to education settings and includes Educational Psychology services and a wide range of SEN support services, including SEMH, sensory impairment, communication and interaction and physical difficulties. The outcomes for the service are to promote high quality inclusive SEN provision through the effective implementation of a graduated approach across the whole continuum of need, for all children and young prople with SEND.  To do this by providing advice, support, and challenge to all settings (early years, schools, and Colleges) so they implement and comply with the SEND CoP and SEN provision including use of SEN funding is appropriate, delivery of and quality monitoring of advice and reports and provide statutory advisory teacher provision equitably across Devon.  The service also offers a traded element to schools for additional expertise to meet childrens needs.

As part of the wider SEND Transformation and in response to public consultation Devon County Council’s Cabinet, 10th March 2021, by, determined that Education and Inclusion services will be brought into direct delivery of the Council from 2022 when the current ten year contract ends.

Special Schools

Our analysis of need through the SEN Review has led us to an ambitious plan for the expansion of Special School provision. By September 2023, we will have nearly doubled our special school estate in just four years, having developed four completely new schools and expanding six others, to meet the growing numbers of children and young people with specialist needs. The table below shows in more detail where these increases will come, including what has already been delivered in the last 15 months.

Type Added Places Notes
Places delivered in past 15 months 260 Including 2 new Schools: ACE Tiverton and Glendinning in Newton Abbot
Expansion of Special Schools 291 Expansion on existing sites

Online between Sept 2021 and 2024

New Special School Okehampton 80 Planning approved and sponsor process commenced.  Minimum 80 places. Current proposal is to open Sept 2022. SEMH.
Potential new school 100 Currently in discussion with DfE – possible 2023 opening
Total 731

The quality of special schools in Devon remains high. All but one of our maintained, academy or free schools are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. One of two non-maintained schools is inadequate but demonstrating that standards are now being met following a monitoring visit in October 2020. 85% of our independent special schools are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

Devon County Council (Education and Learning) holds block contracting arrangements with two independent providers to ensure specialist settings, that are outside of the maintained and non-maintained special school sectors, are in place to meet the identified gaps in provision.

Alongside Capital spending to ensure there are sufficient special schools places, we are working, at a wider level, to ensure the education and SEND system in Devon is effective in meeting the learning and development needs of children and young people with SEND. Alongside the SEND Transformation, the SEND 100 project will be transferring £2 million on 2021/22 from the Schools Block to the High Needs Block to support setting’s ability to deliver the provision as outlined in EHCPs.  We will be evaluating the impact of this transfer of resources in improving outcomes for children.

Meeting specialist need in mainstream school settings: Resource bases

There are currently a number of resource bases within mainstream schools to support the specialist needs of children.  There are seven focused on communication and interaction need, two supporting multi-sensory impairment and one specialising in physical difficulties. These bases support up to 80 children and young people. Current work is underway to discuss the change of use of two of these; one MSI and physical difficulties following analysis of new learners in each of the areas. In addition, a further 15 new resources bases are being sought in schools to meet need in inclusive environments and to ensure special school places are available for children who need this most. This in turn ensures we are meeting the needs of Devon children in Devon schools without the need to use independent sector provision.   Following expressions of interest and schools meeting the criteria there will be a consultation moving forward in 6 schools for 48 children this will opening in January 2022. The aim is to reach the targeted 15 bases.  Further development work will be needed to achieve this.

Independent Sector Special Schools

At present there are significant numbers of children and young people supported by independent special schools. This is in the main due to a lack of capacity in the state funded special schools in Devon. The expansion of the special school estate seeks to meet the needs of children and reduce the need for independent placements. However, there will still some children and young people whose needs will exceed the provision in state funded special schools. Commissioning on a block contract basis is being explored and negotiated. Discussions are underway with the schools with whom we have the largest number of children placed (12 providers in number of learners) to discuss further commissioning arrangements.

Early Years

On top of the universal Early Years offer, we provide additional funding and wrap-around support for young children under the age of 5 with identified SEND. Support focuses on achieving improved outcomes under the key areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and ensuring a successful transition to mainstream school. We also provide an Early Years Complex needs service from within the council.

Sensory impairment needs (Visual Impairment, Deafblind, Hearing Impairment, D/deaf)

Devon County Council has in-house ROVIC service which supports children and young people with visual impairment needs and undertakes assessments for deafblind children and young people. A total of 622 children and young people are known to the service, and 195 children and young people are currently actively reached by ROVIC Officers, with a further 25 waiting for support. The service also reaches wider numbers of children and young people through work in eye clinics in acute settings as well as contributions for EHCP processes including those not actively open to the team at the time. The service delivers a holistic offer with information, advice, assessment, support and sight impairment registration, and deafblind record processes. This service is delivered across home, community, health, and education settings.

DCC also commission support services for deafblind children and young people the multi-sensory impairment (MSI) service, currently delivered by Babcock LDP. The specialist service is highly valued by young people and their parents and carers and has enabled young people with complex deafblind needs to achieve their full potential through the provision of one to one support in line with deafblind guidance, it is considered to be an exemplar of best practice (feedback from SENSE  as part of sensory service engagement  -the leading Deafblind charity at that time). This service will come in-house from 2022, alongside all other Education and Inclusion services, which also includes Teachers of the Deaf, Visually Impaired and Multi-Sensory Impaired.

Engagement work was undertaken in 2018 regarding sensory services, this informed the decision to insource ROVIC. Further work is needed in understanding an improved offer for deaf children, as well as supporting the wellbeing needs of children and young people with sensory impairment, this will take place alongside re-engagement and review to inform a future sensory strategy and service delivery. This work is planned to conclude by 2022.

Intervention, tutoring and mentoring

In line with statutory duties Devon County Council (Education and Learning service) ensures flexible packages of support and intervention for children who are educated outside of a school setting. This is for learners who are either not attending, out of school or unable to engage with a school setting or the commissioned Alternative Provision provider. These services are presently spot contracted or provided through direct payments made to the parents and/or carers. A full review of these arrangements is underway and future commissioning will strengthen this with a framework arrangement covering mentoring, coaching, online teaching, home tutoring and young people matched to this offer.

Occupational Therapy (OT) Services

Devon County Council and NHS Devon CCG have joint commissioning arrangements for the provision of OT services for children and young people. OT services are currently delivered by Children and Family Health Devon as part of the community health and wellbeing services contract. OT services support children and young people with a range of physical, sensory, developmental, cognitive, and social needs that impact on their daily lives. It is therefore fundamental to children’s development, health, and general wellbeing. The service may recommend the provision of additional adaptations and equipment to support this, these are provided by Devon Independent Living Integrated Service (DILIS) on behalf of Devon County Council and NHS Devon CCG.

During October 2020 – March 2021, the service received a total of 1294 referrals – an average of 216 per month – of which 65% were accepted. The caseload is currently at just over 1214 children and young people, with one child waiting over 52 weeks for treatment.

National targets expect that 92% of patients, who have not yet received treatment, should have been waiting no more than 18 weeks from referral to treatment (RTT).  We are aware that the current performance is not where it should be, and we are working with Children and Family Health Devon to address this. A new operating model and action plan are in place and will be kept under continual review to support the needed improvement in wait times for this service area. We are already beginning to see improvements in reducing caseload numbers, increasing clinical activity and gradual improvements in RTT performance. We are also increasing the use of groups and more children and young people are receiving support at a ‘Getting Advice’ or ‘Getting Help’ level, as per the THRIVE model of service delivery.

What we will do

In response to the needs analysis data above and feedback from children, young people, parents and carers we have set the priorities below:

  • Assess the impact of the additional emotional wellbeing support for children and young people with SEND to return to formal learning following the COVID-19 pandemic lock down.  We will continue to monitor the success of transition for pupils across the next school year. Additional funding is in place to commission hospital school outreach provision and short term, supplementary support for those too anxious to attend school as part of an early help offer.
  • Review and consider the options for a commissioning framework or block contracting agreements with independent providers to secure specialist education provision that meets gaps identified in the SEN strategic review. This will enable the provision, specified in EHCPs, to be delivered within statutory deadlines.
  • Review the offer for children where anxiety about school settings and environments is preventing attendance and commission capacity to support this need alongside seeking to reintegrate into a school setting.
  • As part of the insourcing of MSI and SEND Transformation develop a Sensory Strategy to further develop integrated services for children with sensory needs.
  • Review our arrangements with the aim of putting in place a framework arrangement for all intervention, tutoring, and mentoring services for children who are not able to be in school due to special educational or medical needs.
  • Expand the use of the graduated response and further develop this as a joint tool with health, across all settings including Early Years, to enable the early identification of SEND and resulting access to early support
  • Address the waiting times for OT services and deliver the transformation to the integrated community therapies offer. Review and further integrate the OT and SALT capacity to fully meet the needs of children with an EHCP

How we will know we are making a difference to outcomes for children and young people:

  • Progress against educational attainment and EYFS outcomes continues to be made for children and young people with an EHCP or receiving SEN support, following the disruption due to COVID-19
  • Fewer children with EHCP’s or SEN Support are excluded, have absences from school or are inappropriately electively home educated
  • Children with an EHCP or SEN Support are achieving better educational outcomes

Decision-making and Funding Arrangements

The Authority and CCG have decision making and funding arrangements in place, with a specific focus on providing the right education, health, and care support at the right time for children, young people, and their families.

Funding decision making arrangements for Short Breaks

Universal Short Breaks

The Authority’s universal, targeted and specialist short break offer is described in the short breaks statement, published online.  In addition, the Council provides small grants annually to small voluntary, community and parent run groups to offer opportunities for children and young people in the community. The key focus of grants was to support children and young people, up to the age of 18, to take part in community-based activities alongside their friends. The small grants scheme is delivered in partnership between DCC and Parent Carer Forum Devon to ensure the voice and views of parents are central to decision making on who should receive an award.

We have also commissioned advice and guidance to parents and families through a service called Quids 4 Kids (Q4K). In the last three years, this service has enabled parents to claim the resources they are entitled to by supporting with applications and make appeals. Since the beginning of 2018/19 financial year to date, the Q4K service has produced over £5 million in income gains to Devon families through their access to benefits.

Direct payments and personal budgets

Many young people with SEND and their families tell us that they would like choice, control and flexibility when purchasing the services and support which best meet the individual needs of the child or young person. Our approach to achieving this is through an effective integrated commissioning approach of personal budgets across education, health, and social care, which allow families to choose and pay for their own care wherever possible.

Where families have been allocated a personal budget to meet care needs, they can choose to access funds as a direct payment to them. This allows extra flexibility and personalisation in the care that children and young people are receiving.  Direct payments must still be used to meet the health and social care outcomes as specified and agreed in the child or young person’s support plan. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we made our direct payments policy more flexible to allow families more choice and control over the care they received. Families can access short breaks through direct payments and have reflected positively on the flexibility they have to do this. Following the pandemic, the direct payments and personal budgets policy will be reviewed alongside what families are telling us about their lived experiences during 2020-21.  Target’s to release capacity in services to personal budgets will also be reviewed and targets re-set for 21/22 and beyond.

All families with children assessed for continuing care health needs are advised and offered a personal health budget. The CCG team provide guidance and can support the family to understand the options available to them.

Added flexibility to our Direct Payments policy, as part of our response to COVID-19 has been positively received by families. We will use our learning from our response through the pandemic and what families are telling us to improve our permanent Direct Payments and Personal Budgets policy.

Targeted Short Break Offer

The Authority has invested heavily in its targeted short break offer to 1782 children and young people with disabilities, who do not require statutory social work services.  A dedicated Support and Advice Service receives requests for targeted short breaks from children, young people, parent/carers and professionals, and eligibility for a targeted short break is assessed in accordance with the eligibility criteria, published online.  The Support and Advice Service, on strengthening understanding of need, have since January 2021, completed a short break assessment, complimenting the Resource Allocation System (RAS), previously used in isolation.  The RAS enables the Authority to develop an indicative budget to meet children and young peoples identified social care needs.

Statutory Short Break offer

There are currently 286 children and young people who require short breaks from statutory services, the Disabled Children’s Service.  On receipt of referral, the Disabled Children’s Service will complete a statutory assessment of need (single assessment), complimented by the RAS, in accordance with the eligibility criteria. Children and young people who receive short breaks are children in need under s.17 Children Act 1989, child in need of protection and children who are in our care.

Until March 2021, all children and young people who received targeted and statutory short breaks under £5,000 were approved by the Team Manager this has now reduced to £3,000.  All children with more complex needs requiring packages above and up to £20,000, are now presented to the Authority’s Short Break Panel, chaired by middle management (Area Managers in the Council’s Disabled Childrens Service).  Since May 2021, all children and young people who receive statutory short breaks over £20,000 are now presented to the Senior Manager of the Disabled Children’s Service at the Short Breaks Panel.  The panel is attended by the social worker, Team Manager and CCG.  This now strengthens management and partnership oversight of children with more complex needs.

Funding decision making arrangements for Continuing Care

Children’s Complex Care Panel

Where children and young people, including those with SEND, and have complex support needs, they may be eligible for a joint health and social care package. Where Children’s Social Care determine that children and young people may be eligible for continuing care, they will complete the Eligibility Checklist.  This checklist informs the CCG’s Decision Support Tool (DST) and which informs the CCG’s approval at their Children’s Complex Care Panel.   This panel is chaired by the CCG and attended by Children’s Social Care, the DMO and Community Health Provider.  This determination is taken to the Short Break Panel or Joint Agency County Panel (JCAP) for children in care (described below).

Continuing Care Policy

A Continuing Care Policy is currently under development led by NHS Devon CCG, with Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council and Devon County Council.  This work was underway in 2020 but has been delayed due to CV-19.  The Policy will include the agreement of a Joint Funding Tool and Standard Operating Procedures which will guide the commissioning, funding, and delivery of support for children and young people with complex needs. It will enable a shared responsibility and commitment from partners in providing the funding required to ensure individual children and young people’s needs can be met with quality services in a timely manner.

Our expectation is for the Policy to go through the necessary respective governance and sign-off processes by June 2021. In the months following, Devon County Council and the CCG will work collectively to ensure the Policy is embedded into our operational delivery.

Building on our current model, the Authority and CCG are committed to further integration and joint decision-making arrangements relating to education, health, and care funding in one place.  We will review current arrangements and consider pooled budgets as a method of further integrating our decision making and funding allocations.

Funding decision arrangements for Children in Care

Children in Care Permanency Panel

Resulting from the Authority’s ILAC inspection (March 2020), there has been significant investment in permanency planning for children and young people, including those with SEND, in care.  Children in care placements under £2,000 are approved by Area Managers and those requests for and review of placements up to £5,500, since May 2021, are now approved at Children in Care Permanency Panels, chaired by the Senior Manager.  Children and young people who require placements in excess and up to £7,500 are approved by Children’s Social Care’s Head of Service, and those over by the Director Children’s Services.  This provides strengthened leadership and oversight of children and young people with more complex needs and the impact that placements have on achieving identified outcomes.  Children in Care Permanency Panels are developing their multi-agency attendance, with representation from the Virtual School, Independent Reviewing Service, Finance and Commissioning (for high cost spend).

Where children in care have an Eligibility Checklist or DST in place, this determination is taken to the multi-agency JCAP.

Placement Resource Panel

Chaired by the Senior Manager for Corporate Parenting and attended by the Independent Reviewing Service and CAMHS, this panel approves incidental spend for children in care, such as therapies or extension of placement arrangements.

Joint Agency County Panel for Children in Care

The Joint Agency County Panel, chaired by the Senior Manager for Disabled Children’s Service, is attended by education, health, and social care.  This panel discusses children in care where joint agency responsibility for funding placements are determined.  This will be in addition to where an Eligibility Checklist has been submitted and/or DST is being completed.  SEND 0-25 Team play a key role where children in care have an EHCP.  Children’s Social Care, CCG and SEND reach agreement reached on the joint package of care provided to meet the identified needs of children and young people in care.  JACP panel will be reviewed during Summer 2021 in line with the implementation of the Continuing Care Policy and the review of joint funding arrangements.  This will be consulted upon and the outcome will be published.

Funding decision making arrangements in SEND

Six Week Panel (0-25 service)

As per the statutory requirements for local authority decision making, weekly panels are in place to moderate officer decision making in whether or not to undertake a statutory education, health and care needs assessment, this occurs within 6 weeks of the request being made, and also the decision to issue an EHCP or not, within 16 weeks of the request made.

SEND Senior Managers and Senior Educational Psychologist review in line with SEND Regulations and determine if the legal test is met.  The two parts of this test are purely based on educational need and therefore it has been determined the most appropriate moderation is from education professionals. However, as part of the SEND transformation it is intended that prior to 6-week decisions, multi-agency involvement in considering the request is implemented to determine if resource could be directed to support from SEND services.

Sixteen Week Panel (0-25 service)

This panel operates as multi-agency discussion moderating a sample of decisions weekly. Consideration is given if the legal test is met requiring the local authority to determine and secure special educational provision. The panel also considers the contributions to the EHCP proposed and what the proposed level of funding or specialist setting would need to be.

The core membership of the 16-week panel consists of (quorate members) SEND Senior Manager (Chair), a representative from NHS Devon CCG (usually the SEND Designated Clinical Officer), Children’s Social Care and Area Education Officers (presenting EHCPs). In attendance also is representation of the commissioned health provider, Complex Early Years Team and Adult Social Care.

Special School Placement Panel

For children who already have an EHCP there is an additional panel, considering the need for specialist placements. This panel meets monthly and prioritises and allocates specialist placements for children and young people, following an Annual Review, where a request for change of type of placement is appropriate.  The panel will be made up of core members and supporting representatives; Core (quorate members) SEND Team Manager (Chair), Area Education Officers, Special School Representatives. Further work is intended to expand the contributions of multi-agency representation to the decision making of this panel.

Education decision-making panels

Missing Mondays

This is a panel that considers children who are missing education and what is preventing them attending school.  This panel does not make funding decisions it is to decide which service best meets their needs to enable attendance and inclusion. This panel is supported and chaired by the Inclusion Service of the Council.

Section 19 Panel

This is a weekly panel to determine provision required for children and young people who cannot attend school for medical or any other reason which places a statutory responsibility on the local authority to arrange alternative provision. This is in addition to the legal duty to arrange provision for children who are permanently excluded from school. The latter cohort of children are manged through a Council commissioned Alternative Provider with three registered schools across Devon to ensure that children are in education in the required timescales. There is an additional registered school and a hospital school also commissioned by the Council to manage provision for children who are agreed by the Section 19 panel as medically unable to attend. For those children that are unable to attend school for any other reason then there are individual packages commissioned on a case by case basis to ensure children are in receipt of education.  The panel consists of professional across Education, including Inclusion, SEN, admissions plus representation for the County AP provider, health provider, Education Psychology and Public Health Nursing.

Health Care arrangements to prevent admission to Tier Four Mental Health In-Patient care

Care and Education Treatment Reviews (CETRs) and Dynamic Support Register (DSR)

During 2020 the partnership agreed a CETR Implementation Policy. This provides guidance to all providers and outlines the structures that are now in place to monitor and support young people with a Learning Disability or Autism with the greatest levels of need. This meets the directives of NHS England regarding Dynamic Support Registers (DSR) and Care and Education Treatment Reviews (CETRs). We have in place an active DSR which is formally reviewed monthly, with young people’s needs RAG rated according to specified criteria or risk. The DSR is managed and reviewed by the CCG with information supplied by the Community Health Provider CFHD.  Twice each month young people who are considered at risk of admission to Tier Four provision are discussed in a multi-agency tracker meeting and plans are created to better meet their needs in the community. The DSR guides the use of CETR meetings as a ‘deep dive’ into the needs of those young people with most complex needs and outcomes of the CETR process can then be considered at the tracker meetings.

In response to this work, we have reduced the number of young people in that cohort requiring inpatient treatment to less than a quarter of levels identified a year ago. We have multi-agency input into our Dynamic Support Register ensuring that all young people in Devon who meet the criteria are now monitored and collaborative working allows enhanced community provision.

The next steps for this piece of work include developing easy-access web pages as a portal for all information, forms, and guidance in this area. This will include formalised referral forms to complete when a young person’s needs are escalating and a more robust system for collecting and documenting consent for inclusion. We will also look to amalgamate this work with our oversight of the children with the highest needs and at risk of crisis to provider a swifter and more effective multiagency response.

Adult Services Care Act Eligibility

A qualified Social Worker completes a Care Act assessment and deems the young person likely or unlikely to be eligible for Adult Social Care Services from 14 years onwards dependant on the age of the referral.  Young People deemed as unlikely eligible are contacted and the criteria for eligibility is set out. Details about how to access adult social care if needs change in the future is also explained. Children’s Social Care (CSC) are informed of this decision so that they can implement preparing for adulthood planning.  If young people are eligible under the Care Act, they are allocated a PfA worker and allocated an Adult Social Care Team.

These arrangements are set out on the SEND Local Offer web pages. Preparing for adulthood – Education and Families (

Continuing Health Care

If Continuing Health Care eligibility is likely then PfA service contact the referrer to complete an Adult CHC Checklist at 16 years.  A Decision Support Tool should be completed at 17 years.  This is reviewed at CHC panel.  If eligibility is met the young person will receive support directly from adult health services. More information can be found at Preparing for adulthood – Education and Families (