In Control has published its latest report on the pilot of the Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET) for children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). The development of the tool has been funded by the DfE with 70 local areas taking part in the final year of the pilot.
The POET is unique in capturing the views of practitioners, parents and young people on the process of getting an Education Health and Care Plan (and using a personal budget) and the impact it has had on their lives - asking meaningful questions about what is and isn't working:
- Respondents to the survey report positive experiences of the process with practitioners, parents and children/young people citing improved partnership working and that both parents and children's/young people's voices were being heard. This is good news and is a key aim of the SEND reforms.
- Parents are also generally positive about the quality of support provided, but the report does flag concerns. Parents are less happy about the amount of support they received and less than half the respondents were happy with the choice they have - another key aim of the SEND reforms.
- Parental response on outcomes also flags concern - with limited impact beyond educational outcomes and both outcomes for the future and engaging in the community highlighted as weaknesses. Whilst it is too early to draw firm conclusions, this does suggest the education focus of the EHC process is dominant and possibly limiting the ambitions for truly holistic plans that prepare young people for adulthood, as envisaged in the Code of Practice.
The tool also provides unique local data that can be used to further improve services for children and young people and help local areas respond to the requirements in the SEN and Disability Code of Practice, the DfE Accountability Framework and Ofsted/CQC's inspection framework for SEN and Disability.
In Control members have been busy using the Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET) to collect the views and experiences of people who need support and those close to them. This has included 1,879 parents/carers of children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), 2,989 practitioners working with children and young people with EHCPs, 906 children and young people who have EHCPs themselves, as well as 2,254 adults who have a personal budget for their support.
Children and young people with EHCPs
Three quarters of children and young people said their support was good or very good in one of the six areas we asked about: dignity (74%). Around two thirds of children and young people said their support was good or very good in three areas we asked about: the level of support (66%), looking forward (65%) and being heard (64%).
Around a fifth of children and young people said the support they received was poor or very poor in the other two areas we asked about: information (21%) and choice about support (21%).
Looking more closely
There were few differences in experience or outcome according to gender.
Children and young people who completed the questions by themselves generally reported better experiences and outcomes.
Children and young people with physical disabilities generally reported getting a better deal, both in terms of their support and its impact on their life.
Children and young people with communication & interaction needs, and particularly children and young people with social, mental and emotional health needs, were on the whole slightly less positive.
As we have seen before across all the POET datasets, better experience of process was strongly associated with better outcomes.
Parents/carers of children and young people with EHCPs
Around two thirds of parents/carers who responded said that the support their child had received over the last year had been good or very good in helping their child with two of the seven areas we asked about: school and learning (68%) and relationships with family (65%).
Around a half said the support their child had received over the last 12 months had been good or very good in helping with three of the seven areas we asked about: quality of life (56%), being fit & healthy (53%), and enjoying friendships (44%).
Around a third of parents/carers said the support their child received had helped with the two remaining areas we asked about: preparing for the future (43%) and being part of their local community (34%).
Looking more closely
Parents of pre-school and primary school age children generally report slightly better experience than parents of secondary school age children and young people.
Parents where an SEN statement has been converted to an EHCP were less likely to report a positive impact of the EHCP on them as parents.
Parents said that any and all forms of support for their children and young people were also helpful for them as parents.
Importantly, parents said that having their views, and the views of their child or young person, fully included in the EHCP was really important in terms of outcomes for the children and young people, and for them as parents.
Practitioners who work with children and young people with EHCPs
Well over three quarters of practitioners (80%) who responded to the POET survey said that EHCPs had always or mostly helped them work in partnership with parents/carers.
Around three quarters said that EHCPs had always or mostly helped them in three other areas we asked about: understand the needs of children and young people (77%), providing individually tailored support (73%), and putting children and young people at the centre of planning (75%).
Roughly two thirds of practitioners said that EHCPs had helped always or mostly in two other areas we asked about: partnership with colleagues (65%) and providing clear information and advice to parents/carers (70%). Just over half of practitioners said that EHCPs had helped them always or mostly to provide timely response to the needs of children and young people (58%).
A significant minority (10% or more) of practitioners said that EHCPs had never or rarely helped them in two of the seven areas of work we asked about: providing a timely response to the needs of children and young people (17%) and working in partnership with your colleagues from other professions (10%).
Looking more closely
Practitioners working in mainstream education were on the whole slightly more positive about the EHCP process.
Practitioners in schools generally and special education professionals in particular were less positive about the impact of EHCPs on their relationships with other professionals.
Education specialists were more positive about the EHCP process, but not about the impact of EHCPs on children and young people.
As was the case with parents, practitioners working with primary school children were more likely to report positive EHCP processes (but not outcomes) for children and young people.
Practitioners working with secondary school and post-16 children and young people were less positive about both EHCP processes and the impact of EHCPs on children and young people's lives.
Practitioners working with children and young people with communication and interaction needs were more positive about both EHCP processes and some outcomes for children and young people. (Interestingly this was not the case for children and young people themselves.)
Practitioners working with children and young people with learning disabilities and/or physical disabilities were slightly less positive about EHCP processes, although there were few associations in terms of reported outcomes for children and young people.
Again, better EHCP processes was massively associated with better outcomes for children and young people according to practitioners.
We are working with members to embed the POET questions into everyday practice, so that people's experiences and the outcomes they achieve can be routinely recorded and can inform local accountability and service improvements.
Embedding the POET will mean local authorities can:
- Use an updated and simplified question set focused on experience and key outcomes, providing an up-to-date quality framework.
- Collect outcomes and experiences routinely about everyone they support as part of everyday practice for consistent application and widest possible coverage. (Both adults who need support and children with an EHCP.)
- Store and access data on local IT systems for immediate access and reduced transaction cost.
- Benefit from anonymous data reported nationally for national overview and benchmarking.
For more information about embedding the POET locally, please email firstname.lastname@example.org