Last week was a busy one for Axcis. Not only were our consultants busy finding the best SEND staff to work with their schools (a full-time job in itself!) We were also busy at events all over the country! Read on to find out where we were and what we were up to…
Gloucestershire SEND Conference
As the consultant for Gloucestershire for Axcis, Victoria King was proud and delighted to attend Gloucestershire Council’s annual SEND conference. The meeting of hundreds of SENCOs and support workers from around the county was well-attended and many flocked to the Axcis stand over lunch to have a chat!
Sharing our motto that “to do well, we must do good”, colleagues from schools across Gloucestershire caught up with Victoria to comment on how well our candidates are doing in their schools, or to find out more about how we can help in the future.
It was great to hear all about so many different schools in the county and Victoria looks forward to working with more and more of them in the coming term.
NASS Annual Conference
Some of the Axcis team went along to the NASS Annual Conference in Brighton. An insightful event, there was plenty to learn.
Claire has been CEO of NASS for 10 years now. She talked about the future for non-maintained special schools which has always been a cause for concern. However, the DfE have recently committed to maintaining the status and issued new guidance in Summer 2015. Claire believes the sector is more buoyant than it was 10 years ago – though schools offering 38 week placements are more under threat than those with a 52 week provision.
An interesting fact to materialise from Claire’s presentation is that the number of statements/ECHP’s in independent sector is up to 12.5k, whereas in non-maintained schools it has dropped to 4.5k – posing the question of why this might be.
Another interesting point is that after a long period with no change, more schools in the independent sector have been forced to put up fees with 51% increasing between 2013 and 2015.
Many schools are still finding that local authorities are not putting them on “Local Offer” and this is an ongoing battle. However, Warwickshire have recently been taken to court and lost with its social care offer being declared illegal. We are also starting to see the effects of parental preference with the first tribunals under the new scheme due to start imminently – it will be interesting to see what precedent is set as a result…
Some concerns which have arisen as a result of the implementation of the SEND reforms of 2015 include; different ECHP formats from different LA’s; time taken for responses, lack of info from LA s and lack of LA attendance at reviews. These are all areas which the SSAT hope to see improvement in during the coming year.
Other challenges include constant amends to Ofsted frameworks around SEND changes, recruitment and retention (in all areas of special needs and leadership is of particular concern), increasingly complex needs of pupils not slotting into one area and inconsistent LA commissioning
SO – we need to invest in staff, react fast to referrals, manage budgets effectively, improve marketing, web and social media presence, adapt to pupils up to 25 years and respond to market demands. Not a lot then!
Claire also stressed the need for leaders with vision and ever increasing skills, the need for coherent measures of success and for schools to work together.
We are moving in the right direction with SEND education, but as always – there is plenty more still to be done!
NAS Autism and Good Practice in Design
Jack from our London office went along to the Royal College of Art in London to attend this event. A range of notable speakers discussed recommendations and concepts that show good practice in the design of buildings and technology. They also gave insights into understanding sensory issues for people with autism and how to take these into account when designing environments. Jack was pleased to represent Axcis on Friday and offered some useful advice to SEND professionals on effective recruitment at the Axcis Stand.
Charity Times Awards
On Wednesday night, I was pleased to be invited to join the NAS table at the Charity Times Awards, along with Gary and Susanna from our London office. As long standing partners of the NAS, we were excited to receive our first nomination for an award with them for “Corporate National Partnership Champion”. Although we didn’t win, it was a memorable evening with great food, company and entertainment. Fingers crossed for next year!
NAS My World Breakfast Event
Ruth from our Essex office along with Helena from London went along to the NAS MyWorld breakfast event which was intended to give a networking opportunity to like-minded autism practitioners prior to the annual SEN Conference in London. The morning was a great success.