Agenda item


To receive report on progress made towards and barriers against achieving the recommendations for the Inclusion and Additional Needs Partnership Strategy agreed by Committee in December 2022.



Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning

Rachael Wardell, Executive Director – Children, Families and Learning

Liz Mills, Director – Education and Lifelong Learning

Julia Katherine, Assistant Director – Inclusion and Additional Needs


Key points made in the discussion:

1.    The Assistant Director informed the Committee that all its recommendations were incorporated into the strategy that was agreed by Cabinet in January 2023. An easy-read version had been commissioned and the first webinar for families would be broadcast in April. Performance indicators against strategy priorities would be reported to the Committee regularly and include health indicators and timeliness of Education Health and Care needs assessments.


2.    A Member voiced concern about the Council’s ability to meet its Safety Valve Agreement obligations without the required capital investment, after it was awarded a fraction of what it bid for (£8m of £56m). The Executive Director stated the Safety Valve Agreement currently remained on track but the agreement’s terms had assumed that bids would be successful. The Council was in a dialogue with the DfE about the Government’s under investment. The Executive Director was not optimistic more funding would be forthcoming in the short-term and, in this instance, the agreement would therefore need to be relaxed. The special free school announced this week would help, but did not close the gap.


3.    The percentage of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) due in January 2023 that were completed on time (within 20 weeks) was two per cent. A Member asked when the 70 per cent target would be reached. The Director for Education and Lifelong Learning said the latest figure was 10 per cent and they aimed for 60 per cent by the next Committee meeting in May. Delays were caused by professional assessments. The Assistant Director reported special educational needs teams were now almost fully staffed and were writing around 2,000 new EHCPs a year. These were done in-house; a lot of quality assurance would be required if external agencies were used.


4.    The EHCP assessment process was taking an average of 142 days to complete, against a target of 112 days (i.e. phase 2). At its worst it was 226 days (December 2022). Every case over 40 weeks had been looked at and, the 138 that took between 40 and 50 weeks all involved an additional complication.


5.    A Member asked if the practice of parents funding their own Educational Psychologists should be encouraged. The Executive Director said that could result in a significant injustice in the system and the Code of Practice expected Educational Psychologist (EP) advice to be commissioned by the local authority. The Assistant Director conveyed that only 12 higher education institutions in the country trained EPs; the University of Surrey was not one of these. Surrey County Council had trainees on placement each year and had employed eight supervised assistant EPs, on the Committee’s suggestion. The Department for Education’s (DfE) SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan includes training 600 more educational psychologists (EPs) across the country, to start by 2025.


6.    A Member enquired how schools were supported during the period waiting for assessment to avoid disruption to children. The Assistant Director stated support for schools was commissioned from Schools Alliance for Excellence (SAfE) and from the specialist schools’ Specialist Teachers for Inclusive Practice (STIPs). EHCPs were only for children with the most significant needs and sometimes an assessment was not required when Ordinarily Available Provision could meet a child’s needs.


7.    A Member was pleased the Council had committed to working with Family Voice Surrey to develop the parent portal, which would allow parents access to their child’s records via the Single View of a Child Integrated System.


8.    Of Surrey’s 12,000 EHCPs, the primary need of 141 children was a hearing impairment and 24 of these (17 per cent) were educated outside of the county. These were likely to have a complexity of other needs requiring a more specialist placement. A Member asked if there was sufficient provision for visually impaired children following the closure of a specialist unit at George Abbot School and if there were plans for a specialist sixth form unit at Woking College. A written response was offered.


Actions/requests for further information:

1.    The Director of Education and Lifelong Learning to provide how many of Surrey’s children are blind / visually impaired and what proportion of these are being educated out of county, and share if there are/were plans for a new specialist unit in Surrey.


2.    The Director of Education and Lifelong Learning to clarify if the average 142 days to complete the EHCP process in Surrey refers to working days or calendar days.


3.    The performance sub-group to check progress towards 60 per cent of new EHCPs completed in time, at their meeting on 11 May 2023.



1.    That Members of CFLLC Select Committee monitor the capital expenditure related to the Safety Valve Agreement via the Budget Task Group.


(Owners: Liz Bowes and Jeremy Webster)

Supporting documents: