Question 4: Are the entitlements and options for provisions clear?
Yes/no responses – all respondents
The above question was asked in relation to the Deciding on the right provision for a child or young person section in the document. This section sets out the entitlements and options for provision and Annex B sets out a series of reflective questions to ask when deciding on the most appropriate provision for an individual child or young person.
Overall, over half (55%) of respondents thought the entitlements and options for provision were clear. Around a third (32%) did not agree.
The responses to this question split between providing responses on the drafting of the section itself and suggestions on how to improve clarity and responses which focussed on current practice around this issue. Respondents from organisations were more likely to comment on the drafting of the section and individuals more likely to comment on what was currently happening in practice.
Just over half of the respondents (55%) found the entitlements and options for provisions as set out in the document to be clear. Respondents thought that it was helpful to have the range of options set out and found the inclusion of flexible placements to be helpful. The reflective questions were seen to be helpful in setting out what should be considered when deciding on the most appropriate provision for children and young people.
A few respondents provided some suggestions for how clarity could be further improved, these are highlighted below.
On the options for provision, it was felt that more detail should be provided on what was meant by flexible provision and that more emphasis put on this route. It was also felt that it would be helpful to highlight the value of closer links between mainstream and special schools, both for outreach and sharing expertise. It was also felt that it was important to ensure that the section acknowledged that provision would be different in each local authority and will have developed due to local community contexts and geography. Another issue raised was that partners such as health and social care should be included and that views from a range of professionals should be fed into the decision making process.
On entitlements and Annex B it was felt that it might be helpful to try and align these more closely and to make links across to the reflective questions on the exemptions in section 4 of the draft guidance. It was felt that it would be helpful to have more on process and what to do when there was a conflict of opinions on what provision was the best to support a child's needs. On Annex B, it was felt that the question on ability and aptitude should be reworked to put a greater focus on how the learning environment could be adapted to support the child to be present, participating, achieving and supported. This also highlighted the need to make links into section 2 of the document that sets out the key features of inclusion.
Many respondents commented that they did not find the entitlements and options for provision clear. Individual respondents were more likely to disagree with the section and the majority of comments received did not focus on the drafting of the section but on how practice currently operated. Views were expressed that it was often not clear in practice what the entitlements and options for support were and that parents often felt that they were not involved in the decision making process. It was felt that the section did not reflect the reality of what provision was available in some local authorities and that there was often a lack of alternative if mainstream was found not to be working. It was felt that there was a lack of consistency in the way provision was accessed and that because of variation between local authorities this could be different depending on what area of the country you were in. The main reason given for the system operating in this way was seen to be lack of resource and lack of specialist support.