Education Public Sector Update - September 2015

Role of Councillors in school improvement

The Centre for Public Scrutiny and Local Government Association have published a policy document 'Your school, your community', looking at elected councillors' roles in school improvement, in the context of the continuing programme of academy conversion. It highlights the fact that the changes in status has meant that it is more difficult for local authorities to ensure that schools work with them to fulfil their residual statutory duties, and looks at the benefits of councillors taking a leading role in being a link between council and school and taking a role in relation to school improvement.

Your School, Your Community - click here to view the document.

Expert evidence in SEN cases

In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea v CD[2015] UKUT 0396 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal considered how the First Tier Tribunal should approach expert evidence relating to SEN provision.

This case related to a SEN statement for a child who was profoundly deaf, which school the child should attend, and class size. The parents and the authority each obtained expert acoustic engineer reports relating to noise levels at the two possible schools, and therefore the extent of the likely disadvantage to the child. 

The FTT had found that it could not make findings of fact on the basis of the reports, as they had not been agreed, and the subject matter was technical. However, the UT set aside this decision, finding that this was not an adequate reason to refuse to consider and make findings on the expert evidence.

It was felt the FTT could have made findings on the basis of the written reports, sought to establish which parts of the reports were agreed, and how the parties proposed the FTT would resolve matters in dispute. The FTT could have called for further written submissions on how to resolve the issues between the experts, or held a further hearing to enable the experts to give oral evidence.

It was noted that in such proceedings, unnecessary formality should be avoided, and the starting point should be that expert evidence be restricted to what is reasonably required to resolve the appeal, and ideally with a single joint appointed expert's report. It was noted that it would be helpful for any case management directions dealing with expert evidence to identify precisely the issues which any experts are to address.

Updated SEN Transitional Guidance (DfE) 27 August 2015

This updated guidance explains the transitional process for moving children and young people with SEND across from the old SEND system to the new system, which came into force on 1 September 2015.  By 1 April 2018, local authorities must have transferred all children and young people with statements of SEN for those who meet the criteria for an EHC plan.

Click here to link to the document.

DfE revised statutory guidance"Schemes for financing schools: Statutory guidance for local authorities" August 2015 is for local authorities, who are required to publish schemes for financing schools.  The guidance relates to the provisions required for the scheme.

Click here to link to the document.

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