send devon pathfinder learning from the integrated assessment pilot 2009 10 n.
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SEND Devon Pathfinder Learning from the Integrated Assessment Pilot 2009-10. As part of our wider commitment to a child-centred approach it has long been an ambition to have one integrated assessment process started with Joint Agency Teams in 2001.

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As part of our wider commitment to a child-centred approach it has long been an ambition to have one integrated assessment process started with Joint Agency Teams in 2001.
  • We took advantage of a co-location, the Exeter-based County Special Education Team and Eastern Integrated Children’s Services teams were asked to work together and pilot this approach




Key Objectives
  • to develop and trial an integrated process for assessment of special needs with the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) as the starting point
  • to implement the organisational changes required and support staff who are implementing these changes;
  • to review lessons learned and agree a plan for rolling out the changes.
Key Issue .

The timeframe relating to requests for SEN statutory assessment is prescriptive. There is a legal requirement to notify parents/carers whether or not the Local Authority intends to proceed with an assessment 6 weeks after receiving the initial request.

In extreme cases failure to do so can expose the Authority to complaints to the Ombudsman. If a request for a statutory assessment is refused parents/carers have recourse to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).


The key risks identified at the outset were

    • cultural reluctance
    • slippage in Key Performance Indicators for SEN
    • increased tribunal costs potential challenges from families/risks to families of slower process
    • management capacity in both services
    • ICT systems
The ICSAT system was designed to operate that on receipt of a request for a statutory assessment, an integrated assessment will be completed within 35 days. The intention was that this assessment should provide all the information necessary for the Inclusive Education Panel to be able to reach a decision on whether to proceed with a statutory assessment.
This expectation was based on the assumption that, by the time a request was made for a statutory assessment, a CAF would have been completed and relevant professionals would have had contact with the child and be aware of his or her needs.
Advice gathered during the initial stages provided the Inclusive Education Panel with useful information about a child which has helped decision-making.

However, the systems and processes supporting the pilot were not working effectively and needed addressing before any further development.

Key findings
  • Strong support for the concept and principle of integrated assessment. The aim of reducing the burden on parents and professionals by repeatedly asking for the same type of advice is seen as a positive. There is also widespread support for the concept that families applying for a statutory assessment may benefit from the additional services that can be accessed via an integrated assessment.
Combined Assessment ensures that parents are only asked for information on one occasion.
  • The new process ensures that assessments can identify an appropriate holistic package of care.
  • A number of children / young people that have been subject of an integrated assessment as a result of a request for statutory assessment are now accessing services that would not have been identified or provided under previous CSET processes. This assisted meeting the targets under Aiming High for Disabled Children
Removal of duplication leads to better use of staffing capacity within existing resource.
  • More effective screening of referrals and signposting to appropriate resource eg via AXS pathway into CAF/TAC
BUT :-
  • Information had to be much clearer for all professionals as some were asked to complete assessments in shorter timescales with little explanation ie Educational Psychologists / Paediatricians
  • Co-location in itself did not resolve fundamental cultural and business process issues – staff did not feel that they were a team but just part of a process in design
  • Leadership was a key issue
  • Communication at every level needed to be better planned and executed
  • A single process was achievable but required more detailed planning, design , training and support in implementation

= DEVON SEND Pathfinder