Parents and young people themselves should be at the heart of checking and improving Education Health and Care Plans (EHC) and personal budgets under the SEND reforms according to a the report we published in the summer.
The report 'Measuring the outcomes of EHC plans and personal budgets' shows how this can be done via a pilot survey of 133 people from six council areas carried out by In Control with Lancaster University, and supported by the Department for Education.
Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Essex, Lincolnshire, Middlesbrough and West Sussex councils took part in the survey and worked with In Control and Lancaster University to develop the Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET) on which the survey was based. The tool is designed to measure the outcomes of EHC plans and personal budgets for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and has been adapted from previous iterations of POET developed for adult social care and health.
Parents, carers and practitioners reported broadly positive results about the impact that EHC plans and/or personal budgets have had on the lives of children and young people with SEND. Findings showed that in seven of nine areas asked about at least 80 per cent said that things had worked well all or most of the time. In four of the seven areas surveyed at least 75 per cent of practitioners were positive about the process. At least 80 per cent of respondents also reported that in five areas, things were better or a lot better with an EHC plan and/or personal budget. Both parents/carers and practitioners identified areas that needed to improve including working in partnership and keeping the process of getting an EHC plan or personal budget simple.
Martin Routledge, head of operations at In Control, added: "Using POET we have been able to compile the largest national data set to date capturing the experiences of almost 8,000 people on what's working and what's not in the delivery of personal budgets across adult social care and health and now for EHC plans and personal budgets in children's services. The data gathered so far clearly shows us that there are very strong links between people's experience of the process and the outcomes they achieve in their life. By using POET and benchmarking against the national data set councils and partner agencies can identify with local people those areas of local strength and those requiring improvement action."
POET will continue to be developed and tested between now and December 2014. Twenty local authority areas have volunteered to work with In Control and Lancaster University to further refine the tool and expand the national data set.
The tool will be made available to all local authority areas by spring 2015.