Quality Assurance

The Council ensures effective quality assurance (QA) of provision for children with SEND before and during the delivery of provision.

The Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on LAs to improve the quality of provision for children with SEND. The Code of Practice says that the EHCP assessment and planning process requires 'robust quality assurance systems'.

How quality is assured

Through effective commissioning: Commissioning that includes thorough checks and balances contributes significantly to ensuring that the provision available is of appropriate quality and will deliver the desired outcomes. Effective commissioning processes involve the development of a clear understanding of the offer made by different providers, which forms the basis of establishing thresholds of expected standards that can be measured.

'We’re very strict about what we specify in the tendering process; it’s the first round of QA. Prospective providers have to demonstrate that they have all the right policies in place, risk assessment procedures, staff qualities and experience.'

Islington LA Commissioner

Through open communication and clearly articulated expectation: where commissioners, funders and providers’ area all clear about their roles and responsibilities, and those of others. Such expectations are often formalised within the commissioning processes and agreements e.g. service level agreements, contracts or individual plans, and these expectations form a baseline against which performance and quality is subsequently assessed.

Through ongoing monitoring, evaluation and accountability processes: Effective quality assurance and monitoring focuses on how the provision actually operates and delivers. Investigations gave insights into, for example: what the teaching and learning experiences are for the child; how their behaviour is approached and managed; how their other needs are met; and the nature and appropriateness of outcomes delivered.

Through provider and commissioner working together to develop the quality: of the provision on offer, e.g. being proactive in encouraging and supporting providers to undertake training to build their capacity and improve their ability to meet needs. As a result, there can be increased confidence that providers are equipped to work effectively with young people with diverse needs.

'We actually trained some of the providers about monitoring and tracking systems, so they can now feedback effectively about what the children are doing and what progress they’re making against their targets.'

LA Short Breaks Commissioner

By holding to account: The final element of effective QA relates to consequences and implications of under-performance of providers. QA must relate to outcomes and can result in the de-commissioning of provision where quality is poor, or there is a decision to develop alternative capacity. Similarly, as a result of QA processes, providers can change / improve their approach.

Through borough-wide monitoring of outcomes: High level information on the academic attainment of Islington children and young people with SEND shows that this was above average compared with similar pupils in inner London at Early Years Foundation Stage, Key stage 1, 2 and 4, with lower levels of Islington young people with SEND not in education, employment or training at post 16. Attendance rates are higher and exclusion rates lower for children with SEND than for inner London.

More difficult to capture however is qualitative (sometimes called ‘soft’) outcome data. for example:

  • Confidence and motivation changes
  • Feelings - of well-being, of safety, of satisfaction
  • Personal skills - problem solving, time management and social skills
  • Social cohesion and collective sense of place an purpose

In these indicators are often more important to capture. Through Annual Review of children’s EHCPs, we are now able to capture children and young people’s progress towards annual goals (rated not met, partially met or fully met) and towards their medium term outcomes, showing distance travelled over time. Data is then ‘mapped’ centrally against ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ outcomes (Employment, Community Inclusion, Independent Living, and Health) so that progress can be tracked at child, age, SEND and institution level to give a borough wide picture of progress. See example image.

Through Local Area SEND Inspection: In response to the New duties introduced by the Children and families Act2014, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have been asked to inspect every local area on their effectiveness in fulfilling their duties towards children and young people with SEND and their families over a five-year period, commencing in May 2016.

The inspection considers how effectively Local Areas identify and meet SEND, and how outcomes improve.

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