• SEND speak

Audit Report to Ombudsman, Being Heard & Visibility

Dear All

The world is opening again… slowly and safely.

1a An independent audit of Education, Health and Care Plans in Richmond upon Thames - Final Report - May 2020

1b Extracts and Page Numbers

1c and the Twelve Recommendations

2 CYPwDLD (Richmond)

3 Being Heard - Parent Carer Forums for Richmond and Kingston

4 Extension to Temporary Changes in Law for those with EHCPs

5 Coronavirus And SEND: Current Issues Of Concern 6 NHS Test and Trace Scams – How to stay safe

7 Rejoice In London Oddities...

1a An independent audit of Education, Health and Care Plans in Richmond upon Thames - Final Report - May 2020

Some readers may recall that following three complaints to the Ombudsman last year, Richmond Council was tasked (by the Ombudsman) to undertake a full, and independent, audit of all the EHCP’s. For Richmond, EHCPs are the responsibility of Achieving for Children (AfC)(commissioned by Richmond Council), so the audit was about these services within AfC.

The audit report was published a little while ago and now appears in the public domain as part of the papers published by Richmond Council in advance of their Education and Children’s Services Committee meeting next week; 5pm, Wednesday 24th June 2020.

You can access the details on the Richmond Council website here:

Or, if you prefer, here is the link for the full Reports Pack, from which the extracts below are taken:

How to speak at this meeting?

Whether or not it is possible to pose a question to this Committee is perhaps uncertain given the current climate of Covid 19. If you wish to pose a question, please contact the Democratic Services Officer for this Committee meeting:

“The deadline for registration is 12noon one working day prior to the meeting to register to speak and 12 noon, two working days prior to the meeting to submit a written question.”

1b Extracts and Page Numbers

This is how the Ombudsman’s Report is listed with the agenda: the extract from the Committee’s Agenda for meeting next week, 26th June

“4. Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman: Findings from the Audit of Education, Health and Care Plans (PAGES 13 - 78) The Committee is asked to accept the findings of the audit of all children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans in Richmond upon Thames and to agree to implement the auditors’ recommendations in their entirety.

That the Committee agrees the action plan to address the issues identified in the audit, to be developed in partnership with representative parent groups and to be included in the SEND Futures Plan. To note that this revised plan will be presented to the Committee’s next meeting on 7 September 2020.”

NB: Page Numbers

The Ombudsman’s Report has been scanned in to Reports Pack, so the page numbers given below relate to the Reports Pack, not those within the Ombudsman’s Report.

The page numbers appear at the top, centre of the Report Pack pages.

“8. Escalated cases

37 cases were escalated to the Director of Children’s Services at the close of the audit. These cases are summarised below with the actions that should be taken to resolve the failings that have been identified.

The cases have been fully anonymised in the table.”

And ends with…

“These 37 cases require immediate remedy to ensure that children’s special educational needs are met. The cases highlight the need for all partner agencies to work effectively together within the SEND system in their support of the local authority by: submitting professional advice to the local authority in a timely way; ensuring that suitable provision is identified; and, where children have complex health needs, ensuring that these are appropriately considered and promptly actioned by local health commissioners.”

You can find these 37 cases from pages 50 to 69 in the Reports Pack.

1c and the Twelve Recommendations

The recommendations appear on pages 70 & 71 of the Report Pack (see note about page numbers above) and are reproduced in full below.

“9. Recommendations

1. As a priority, respond to the 37 cases that were escalated to the Director of Children’s Services during the audit process, ensuring that all identified children and young people have an EHCP, placement and provision that meets their assessed needs. This should be completed by 30 July 2020 or eight weeks from issuing the draft amended EHCP, pending feedback from parents and/or the young person.

2. Improve the tracking and checking processes for annual reviews to ensure that these are: completed within the statutory timescale; submitted within two weeks of the meeting; and checked to ensure that correct decisions have been made about the need for amendments. This should be completed within three months.

3. Review current processes, systems and resources to improve the timeliness of issuing amended EHCPs and putting in place the required provision following an annual review. Although there is no statutory timeframe to issue the draft amended EHCP, there needs to be a robust system in place to monitor the length of time it takes from issuing a decision notice to issuing the proposed plan. Best practice should be applied to ensure prompt action is taken to avoid lengthy delays to this process. Once the draft amended EHCP has been issued, the local authority should finalise it within the eight-week statutory timeframe. Improvements to the annual review process should be completed within six months.


4. Develop, implement and communicate a revised policy for the attendance of EHCP Coordinators at annual review meetings; it is recommended that EHCP Coordinators prioritise attendance at annual reviews for children and young people at phase transfer points and where issues about a placement or provision have been identified by the child, young person, parents, carers, school or education provider. This should be completed within three months.

5. Improve the tracking of young people aged 18 and over who are NEET, or at risk of becoming NEET, to ensure they have timely access to appropriate education and training. This should be completed within two months.

6. Implement local procedures to ensure that all communication from the parents and carers of children with SEND is acknowledged within five working days and receives a response within ten working days. This should be completed within two months.

7. Consider ways to engage and communicate with parents and carers of children with SEND outside of the formal assessment, planning and review process; this should include more informal opportunities to meet with EHCP Coordinators, managers and senior managers to provide live feedback on casework. This should be completed within three months.

8. Review the system for allocating casework to EHCP Coordinators to determine whether better casework consistency could be achieved; develop and implement a checklist to support the smooth handover of cases between EHCP Coordinators, when this is necessary, and ensure effective communication with the child, young person and his or her parents or carers. This should be completed within four months.

9. Strengthen the application of statutory processes for welcoming children with EHCPs transferring into Richmond upon Thames from another local authority, ensuring that their plans are adopted or amended within the required timeframe and they have access to education and the support they need. This should be completed within two months.

10. Improve the timeliness of consultations with colleges and other post-16 education or training providers for young people at the Year 11 or post-16 phase transfer stage; this includes establishing processes to monitor responses so that all young people have timely access to suitable education, employment and training. This should be completed within three months.

11. Review use of the electronic case recording system, in particular to ensure that it is able to support the effective management of the annual review process; also ensure that all EHCP Coordinators and managers are trained in the effective and efficient use of the system to support their case management. This should be completed within six months.

12. Issue case recording standards to ensure that all casework, including communication with children, young people, parents and carers, is appropriately stored on the electronic case recording system and is complete, accurate and accessible. This should be completed within three months.”



19th May 2020 - Special Education Needs Division, Department for Education


Separately, the Children & Young People with Disabilities & Learning Difficulties Partnership Forum last met on 4th June 2020.

This Partnership Forum includes representatives of many of the parent/carer support groups within Richmond. The Ombudsman Report is on the agenda however the minutes have not yet been published. The place to check is here:

3 Being Heard - Parent Carer Forums for Richmond and Kingston

Last year there was a fair amount of activity in both boroughs with the intention of creating new, independent, Parent Carer Forums (PCFs). Naturally, lockdown did a fine job of drawing these to a halt – including both borough’s launch / information sessions.

So, what now…?

Well there is still work going on, but not a lot of publicity about this work (no time what with home schooling and more!).

Be sure, once each PCF is fully up and running, I’ll be directing readers to their new homes! For now…

Richmond PCF

The Richmond PCF has an e-mail address, and you can certainly direct queries to this address. They are working on a website which will hopefully soon be up and running.

Their e-mail address is:

The most recent meeting of the Richmond SEND Parent Panel was in March (see link below), however my understanding is that the PCF has now taken this onwards and the Panel has ceased.

Kingston PCF

It is less obvious in Kingston, not least due to a lack of an e-mail address or any contact details at all. The best option, perhaps, is to view the Kingston SEND Parent Consortium meeting notes:

And contact the Local Offer for more information:

SEND Partnership Boards

Each borough has one of these, they are multi-disciplinary boards which include representation from parents. Links for each of these – with meeting notes, are here:



SEND Consultation Hub

These pages also detail any current consultations about SEND, in either Kingston or Richmond. There appear to be no current consultations, however keeping checking in…


SEND Local Offer Newsletter

You can also sign up for the Kingston and Richmond Local Offer SEND Newsletter here:

4 Extension to Temporary Changes in Law for those with EHCPs

SEN Implementation, published 29th May 2020

the Secretary of State has issued a notice to extend the temporary changes to the law on what provision has to be made currently for those with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. The temporary changes to the law have been in force since 1 May and are now extended to 30 June. Once the notice expires, the Secretary of State can issue a further notice for a period of up to a month if it would be appropriate and proportionate to do so in the context of coronavirus. We will keep this under close review. We have also taken the opportunity to publish an updated version of Changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus.

5 Coronavirus And SEND: Current Issues Of Concern

From the SEND Community Alliance, published 5th June 2020

“During the pandemic, as individuals and with our respective groups, we’ve been caring for our disabled children or getting information out to families.

But we are also members of key national groups, including the Special Education Consortium, so we’ve been busy thinking about the current situation and what needs to happen next.”

Here are their headlines, use the link below to read the article in full.

1. Restoration of Section 42 rights

2. Lack of provision for those unable to attend school

3. Misuse of risk assessments

4. Impact of behaviour policies/exclusions.

5. Planning for children without school places

6. Differentiated learning/accessibility of online learning

7. Missed provision/support

8. Planning for transitions

9. SEND Transport

10. Lack of support for carers/home educators

6 NHS Test and Trace Scams – How to stay safe Healthwatch Richmond, published 15th June 2020 The new NHS Test and Trace service is working to provide information about the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, scammers are attempting to get personal information to defraud people by pretending to be working for this service.

It’s important to remember that NHS Test and Trace real contact tracers will never do any of the following:

Ask you for details of card or bank account numbers

Ask you to provide or fill in social media login details

Ask you to set up a PIN

Ask you to download anything

Ask you to dial a premium rate phone number (such as starting with 09 or 087)

Give advice on medical treatment

Here is the GovUK official information, including more advice about scammers:

If you think you have been sent a scam message, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”

7 Rejoice In London Oddities

This is not about SEND per se, just the photograph of this new seat cover on the London Underground*, but it’s certainly appealing for those that love London…

*the current video in the link below is the history and thought behind the designs of the London transport seat coverings (and I can think of some young people who might find this fascinating!)

“And London history. And railways. And culture. And... parakeets? Our YouTube channel is a virtual treasure trove of London randomness. Keen to get covered in hungry birds? Yep, we've got a video for that.”

If you have any questions at all, please ask and I'll do my best to find an answer.

With best wishes, Romany



20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All