Agenda item

Report of the Head of Education and Learning (CS/21/04) on the future arrangements for Education and Inclusion Services,attached.

 

An Impact Assessment has been prepared for the attention of Members at the meeting and is attached as well as being available on the website at https://www.devon.gov.uk/impact/published/.

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

(a) that the outcomes of the consultation and engagement process that has taken place over the past 15 months be noted;

 

(b) that following expiry or termination of the existing service contracts with Babcock Learning and Development Partnership LLP the Education and Inclusion Services be brought into direct delivery by the Council, through the Education and Learning teams.

 

(c) that authorisation be given to the County Treasurer, County Solicitor, and Head of Digital Transformation & Business Support (in consultation with the Leader of the Council and the Lead Member) to:

 

(i) determine the Council’s preferred option for the future of the LLP after the existing service contract for Learner Services has come to an end;

 

(ii) enter into discussions with Babcock Education Holdings Ltd to agree the future of the LLP; and

 

(iii) execute all legal and financial agreements necessary to effect any

decisions or agreements reached with regard to the future of the LLP.

 

(d) that in the event that the LLP is wound up or otherwise ceases to provide the traded services, that authorisation be given to the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (in consultation with the County Treasurer, County Solicitor, Head of Digital Transformation & Business Support, Head of Education & Learning, the Lead Member for Childrens Services and the Leader of the Council) to consider the future of appropriate traded services in accordance with the commitment provided at paragraph 3.17 in the Report, and recognising that the future of the services will be subject to further consultation and scrutiny, as appropriate and Cabinet in due course.

Minutes:

(Councillors Biederman, Connett, Dewhirst, Hannaford and Hodgson attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).

 

The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Education and Learning CS/21/04 on the future arrangements for the provision of Education and Inclusion Services, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.

 

This Report explained the background and process which had taken place over the past 15 months to ensure the effective delivery of a significant number of the Local Authority’s statutory duties in relation to Education when the current contract with Babcock LDP expired.

 

The current contract had worked well and was valued, however, moving forward the Council needed to prioritise the integration of SEND services so it could continue to improve its ability to meet the needs of children and their families.

 

The recommendations therefore supported a fully integrated SEND Service whilst also securing safe delivery of the remaining statutory duties and services which were important to the inclusive education of pupils in schools.

 

In terms of the future service delivery, there was an ambitious partnership vision for all children. The services covered within the Report had been listed in paragraphs 3.9 and 3.10 and were significant for the delivery of a wide range of statutory duties which the Local Authority held to safeguard all children and ensure that they could access high quality inclusive education. The SEND transformation vision was in line with the priorities of the Children and Young People’s Plan and SEND strategy.

 

There was evidence that to deliver the full integration required, a number of SEND services would need to be brought into the direct delivery of the Council (Education Psychology, Early Years support & advice, Children Missing Education, Physical & Sensory Support, Social, Emotional & Mental Health, Communication & Interaction and Multi-sensory impairment).

 

Bringing in these services created a knock-on consequence for the viability of a service contract to deliver the remaining services and included Elective Home Education support and monitoring (EHE), Ethnic Minority, Travel and English as an additional language, Education Welfare Service, Teaching, Curriculum & Learning Advisory Support, Governance, School Improvement and Quality Assurance and Education Safeguarding.

 

A market assessment highlighted it was unlikely there were providers in a position to deliver the remaining services, should the SEND services be brought into direct delivery.

 

The future of the LLP was explored further at paragraphs 3.15 to 3.17 and it was noted there were three options;

 

1.    remain ‘as was’ to deliver the traded services;

2.    the Council sold its interest in the LLP to Babcock or a third party; or

3.    the LLP was wound up.

 

It was stressed that the Council would need to explore the options with Babcock Education Holdings Ltd with the aim of agreeing a joint way forward.

 

An options appraisal had been undertaken which considered the way that the

services within the current contract worked together and how they are

connected to other services outside the contract to provide the whole system

of support. Significant market engagement had also been undertaken to fully explore market appetite and a full report completed on this.

 

Consultation had taken place with schools through a design workshop, two surveys and 3 consultation events held virtually. The main schools’ consultation had taken place as part of the Schools Funding Consultation in October and the outcome of this was outlined in full at section 5 of the Report.

 

The proposals would see a significant number of staff becoming Council employees and an initial financial analysis had been undertaken, a summary of which was provided in the Report. 

 

The Risk Management considerations outlined that a risk register was in place for the project and risks had been analysed. The most significant risks identified from a service and an organisational perspective were described.

 

In summary, as a result of the extensive analysis and consultation work carried out over the last 15 months and the findings of the market engagement work and the risk identified of no competitive provider market for

the remaining services, it was recommended to the Cabinet that all of the Education and Inclusion services currently provided by Babcock LDP were brought in for direct delivery.

 

The Cabinet noted the issue of Education and Inclusion had been considered by the Children’s Scrutiny Committee Standing Overview Group in 2021 with their comments attached to the Report.

 

An options appraisal had been undertaken to consider the ways in which Education and Inclusion Services could be delivered going forward and the Impact Assessment (attached to the agenda) followed the appraisal and aimed to consider the impact of the recommendation to deliver Education and Inclusion Services through a different set of arrangements from 2022/23.

 

The recommended change would provide a greater opportunity for integration and to support SEND transformation and improve outcomes for children so no unmanageable impacts had been identified and mitigations were in place, where required, within the Assessment.

 

The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Chief Officer’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:

 

it was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor McInnes (following consideration of the Part 2 Report), and

 

RESOLVED

 

(a) that the outcomes of the consultation and engagement process that has taken place over the past 15 months be noted;

 

(b) that following expiry or termination of the existing service contracts with Babcock Learning and Development Partnership LLP the Education and Inclusion Services be brought into direct delivery by the Council, through the Education and Learning teams.

 

(c) that authorisation be given to the County Treasurer, County Solicitor, and Head of Digital Transformation & Business Support (in consultation with the Leader of the Council and the Lead Member) to:

 

(i) determine the Council’s preferred option for the future of the LLP after the existing service contract for Learner Services has come to an end;

 

(ii) enter into discussions with Babcock Education Holdings Ltd to agree the future of the LLP; and

 

(iii) execute all legal and financial agreements necessary to effect any

decisions or agreements reached with regard to the future of the LLP;

 

(d) that in the event that the LLP is wound up or otherwise ceases to provide the traded services, that authorisation be given to the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (in consultation with the County Treasurer, County Solicitor, Head of Digital Transformation & Business Support, Head of Education & Learning, the Lead Member for Childrens Services and the Leader of the Council) to consider the future of appropriate traded services in accordance with the commitment provided at paragraph 3.17 in the Report and recognising that the future of the services will be subject to further consultation and scrutiny, as appropriate and Cabinet in due course.

 

(NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available on the Impact Assessment Webpages).

Supporting documents: