Background

I taught science from 1968 until 1990 at different schools in London Borough of Redbridge culminating with a period as Deputy Head teacher of Seven Kings High School, alongside Sir Alan Steer.

I started working for Havering Education Authority in 1990 first as Head of the Governing Body Support Service and then as the Inclusion/SEN lead from 1996 until 2009 when I retired. This role included line managing the heads of the three Pupil Referral Units and being the lead officer for Special Schools.

Since retiring I have continued to stay involved by undertaking consultancy work including specific projects for a number of Local Authorities in England including London boroughs. I have familiarised myself with the Children and Family's bill currently going through the House of Commons and also the proposed changes in Wales.

What I can offer

I can provide training, reviews or consultancy work on any aspect of Special Educational Needs. I have a particular interest in person centred approaches as I believe this is not only the most relevant way of understanding and meeting needs but that it can also offer best value for money. All children are individuals, therefore, time taken to personalise the process of analysing need and tailoring the delivery of support in accordance with things identified as important to and for a child, can make an enormous difference in achieving successful outcomes.

Success to date

I have been involved in a number of projects with SEN and the Regional Partnership. This includes work as co-author for an influential report on residential placements "Away from Home - The Price Paid" and a protocol on recoupment that allowed LAs to reduce reliance on statements whilst agreeing best practice in terms of cross border charges.

I have advised other LAs nationally and in London on:
• Special school funding
• Reducing reliance on statements
• Mainstream SEN funding
• Recoupment
• Reducing SENDisT appeals
• Mediation
• Developing specialist provisions

Other achievements

OFSTED Inspectorate awarded Grade 1 across all of the SEN measures in Havering while I was the SEN lead officer. This was achieved from a modest position when I took over the SEN department in 1996, for example, no Statements at all were completed in the statutory target time period. After 1996, for more than 10 years, all Statements, including and excluding exceptions, have been completed in the statutory time. This is believed to be unique within the country.

Havering also had fewest appeals to the SENDIST as a proportion of the population (ref. SENDIST Reports each year since November 2003) with the majority of years showing no appeals or use of formal mediation service at all. This was of course not just the work of SEN staff but in particular the excellent working relationship with the Parent Partnership Service and how this led to a better understanding of what the priorities were for the parents and their children and how to meet them.

Havering is a very inclusive authority, with only 0.7% of the school population in special schools. A review of the Special School Sector was undertaken moving from place funding to a needs-led system of commissioning in order to reflect better the changing needs of the client group. I was also instrumental in extending schools' perception of universal SEN provision and the associated funding mechanisms. These changes were achieved with the full co-operation of schools and parents who quite often were happy to have their children's need met without formalising the arrangements through a statement. This produced a relationship based on trust and enabled creativity and flexibility to thrive in the way needs were met producing better outcomes for the students.

I was also the lead for Havering on provision development with recent examples being innovative, specially resourced mainstream arrangements for primary aged children with BESD and secondary pupils with ASD. Not only did this mean their needs could be met locally, they thrived and their achievements exceeded their parents' expectations.

Stuart Clarke

References

1) A view on the work I carried out through Gordon House can be obtained from Andy Hough, Portsmouth City Council. Mr Hough commissioned the work on behalf of The Schools Forum.
Andy.Hough@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

2) Havering role as Inclusion/SEN Lead
Dr Trevor Sim, Head of Inclusion/SEN/Additional Needs for London Borough of Havering
Trevor.Sim@Havering.gov.uk

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