NEWS UPDATE 23.6.19
We are, of course, aware of the current local concerns that are being discussed in the media with the EHCP campaigning group.
Obviously, we completely agree that the Educational Health Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) process must be legally compliant (s.36(8) Children and Families Act 2014) and that local policy that applies a stricter test is not lawful.
We also completely agree that the Local Authority needs to have a clear and robust process for contract monitoring arrangements with Cognus Ltd., the Local Authority Trading Company commissioned by Sutton Council to deliver education services. There needs to be stricter monitoring of outcomes and key performance indicators to ensure appropriate levels of accountability.
We have now had several meetings with senior council officers to discuss the issues that have been highlighted:
- The Local Authority acknowledged that communication with Cognus needs to improve and have committed to addressing this urgently, in collaboration with the Parent Carer Forum
- The Local Authority appreciates that the EHCNA process can be unnecessarily stressful for families and has committed to working with the Forum and Cognus to ensure that, from now on, there will be a more person centred approach for each case and that the process will be lawfully compliant
- The Local Authority and Health Services have committed to the Forum maintaining its integral role in decision making and planning services through collected information and feedback
However, the Steering Group's experience of trying to work with Cognus leaders suggests we have some way to go in embedding coproduction working as they do not seem to fully appreciate or recognise this role. Until they do so, it makes it difficult for us to have effective input to improving services and processes in this area.
For example, we have not yet had any input to the new Cognus guidance document for the EHCP process.