How can SENCOs easily collate the evidence they need?
When making judgement about payments for higher need students, many local authorities never actually meet the student, parents or the teachers that deal with them on a day-to-day basis. They rely on detailed and accurate paperwork that paints a picture over time of the difficulties presented.
Whilst the contributions of medical professionals, support agencies and parents are no doubt significant factors in the final decision, perhaps the single most influential factor in deciding whether or not to award money (or hours, or a plan) comes from the information provided by schools.
Bids for EHCP (Educational Health Care Plans) and top-up are not usually something that are decided on overnight.
There is an overwhelming body of evidence to suggest, that the young person who is struggling in school and without the additional support of an EHCP or finances from top-up, that they will continue to struggle to access education or fall further behind their peers.
Read our 4 tips to make this process easier and more successful.
1. Create and review Individual Learning Plans in a few steps
A historical collection of Individual Learning Plans is often requested for both bids. It is not uncommon to be asked for 3, or even 4 reviewed plans, demonstrating the small, step targets students have been set and whether they have achieved them. This is where most schools worry:
If we say students have not achieved them, does it mean we are doing a bad job? If we say they have achieved them, then why are we making a bid?
Firstly, achieving a target may have been an ‘expensive’ project; look at how many hours of support had to go into reaching the target, whether 1:1, small group, special resources etc. Not achieving a target can paint just as detailed a picture; was there a significant amount of support and the student still didn’t retain the information?
Provision Map allows you to create detailed plans for students and review these frequently. Rather than having to recreate everything, there is a bank of over 1000 targets which can be adapted as required.
2. How to quickly manage paperwork
Many of the young people referred will also have a significant amount of paperwork which has appeared from a variety of external agencies. And typically, schools are required to provide copies of their ‘SEN file’ for EHCP requests. Provision Map allows you to scan in and attach files to the student.
This means no more copying a report six times and worrying about it being left out on a desk, or missing out someone who may need the information contained. It also means hard copies can go straight into their file and are not likely to get lost in the large amount of emails SEN Coordinators receive!
3. Provision Maps in a few clicks
More recently, schools are being asked for annotated provision maps (either as an alternative or in additional to learning plans). Generally speaking, this is easier to produce in a primary school, however, they can be successfully created in secondary environments too.
A provision map allows us to see the provisions which a student has had access to, in order to try and achieve the small step targets on their plan. With sufficient detail they can indicate the aims, outcomes, ratio of staff: students and costs.
Provision Map can help here too. With a few clicks you are able to assign students to a variety of provisions which can be reviewed regularly.
4. Writing your bid
Of course, when schools need to write the bids, the school needs input from a variety of people involved in the care of the young person. Again, primary schools with one class teacher, perhaps find this easier than a secondary school, where the young person meets over 15 staff in a week. A school’s ‘Round-Robins’ (an optional add-on to Provision Map) can be useful for this task.
Collating the information required in one report which(without cluttering up inboxes, or requiring a cut and paste activity!) is automatically appended to a student. Typically, students for whom we wish to obtain funding, will have had several to and fro conversations about them over time and these can provide a useful evidence bank.
Finally, schools are required to put in the first £6,000 of funding for all pupils to meet their needs (academies may find their figure is much higher, since the LA SEN pot has already been devolved to their school – often in the region of £9,000). Any efforts to secure funding above this need to evidence that they have already ‘spent’ that funding.
Every local authority is different and they usually offer training or updates in the Autumn term to define the number of hours which they consider to be this value. E.g in one local authority you have to prove the equivalent of 12 hours of 1:1 support before putting in a bid at the lowest level. This doesn’t mean the student had to have 1:1 support… it could be 24 hours of 1:2 support, or perhaps 8 hours of 1:1 support and 4 hours of preparation for a VI pupil.
Using Provision Map and running selected reports we can evidence the hours a student receives, the cost for those and the effectiveness.
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Experience of ‘top-up panels’ at local authorities, is that the quality of the bid submitted was often the only way to make a decision, especially when knowing how little money was left in the proverbial pot to make payments.
It is worth bearing in mind that top-up bids are not continuous pots of money and a future bid will be required to ensure continued funding, so using Provision Map to evidence how the money has been spent is important.
Also, EHC Plans have annual reviews in which the targets from the final ‘statement’ need to be translated into small steps and the progress evidenced. For more information about what Provision Maps can do for your school, visit: www.provisionmap.co.uk