12 January 2016

Independent review to look at learning support service plans

An independent review will be commissioned by Brighton & Hove City Council to look at its plans for reorganising its learning support services.

An expert from outside the council in the field of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will be appointed after the current consultation with staff concludes at the end of January.

The reorganisation aims to deliver an integrated all-year round service rather than the current term-time only service. A further aim is to ensure a flexible and responsive service that avoids the possibility of duplication and overlap where children have a range of needs and makes sure all children with special needs receive a service even where they have not received a specific 'diagnosis'.

The council currently has eight teams supporting SEND in schools. The plans would see seven of these brought together to form a new integrated learning support team.

The proposals increase the total capacity to deal with social, emotional and mental health needs. However there is a proposed reduction in the number of posts supporting learning and communication needs. The current specialist teachers in the proposal would become SEN specialist advisers offering all year round support to families as well as to schools.

There are no proposals to cut any support staff or any funding for direct 1:1 support for children.

The chair of the council’s children, young people and skills committee, Councillor Tom Bewick, said: “Our aim with these proposals is to deliver better outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities and also for their parents and carers.

“However given the strong feelings that have been expressed so far I think it’s clear that an independent view of our plans will help us make sure we get this reorganisation right.

“The person appointed will be asked to meet with parent groups, affected stakeholders to consider the proposals we decide to put forward following the staff consultation.

“We will make the independent assessor’s final report public and publish it on our website. It will play a vital role in our decision making.”  ENDS