Agenda item

Social Emotional Mental Health Service Report

To receive the above report.


The Schools Forum considered the report regarding the Social, Emotional and Mental Health Service.


The SEND Consultant for School Improvement (Helen Huntley) said that funding for the SEMH intervention programme would be ceasing in Easter 2022, however there was an overwhelming amount of support from the Schools Forum that this service should continue. 


The SEND Consultant for School Improvement said the potential options for SEMH provision were:


1.     To agree on the proposals to maintain a Royal Borough of Maidenhead and Windsor Social Emotional and Mental Health Service and provision and to further develop its SEMH provision.

2.     To consider the recommendations as to how this service and provision would be funded which included changes to the use of the Designated School Grant (DSG) funding.

3.     To consider Targeted Support for Social, Emotional and Mental Health Early Years Hub.

The SEND Consultant for School Improvement asked the Schools Forum to consider investing into early years intervention and prevention but admitted that there was no saying that it would be able to make a difference. She added that if no investment was made then this could lead to an extraordinary increase in costs.


These were broken down into 3 factors:

·       The increase in number of children with SEMH as a prime need.

·       The cost of alternative provision for permanently excluded pupils.

·       The extraordinary cost for the specialist provision of Children with SEMH in an independent setting.

The SEND Consultant for School Improvement said that if a pupil had to be placed in a specialist independent provision for a period of 5 years, this could cost £400,000. She added that if a child was permanently excluded and spent 5 years in alternative a specialist Independent provision, then this would cost £87,000 for one child.

The SEND Consultant for School Improvement said that the borough wished to invest in non-statutory services to accommodate the best decision for young people and to implement indicative cost avoidance.


The Chairman said that he believed that the consensus at the working party meeting prior to the November forum, was that it was best to invest now to save in the future. He acknowledged that if they were to back this provision then other provision may have to be cut, which he said would be a difficult decision to make.

Isabel Cooke said that the cases of SEMH were escalating and that some thinking outside of the box was required to ensure that this provision could continue.


The SEND Consultant for School Improvement referred to Table 1 of the report which broke down the costs for the discussed provisions. She noted that the provision of the Core SEMH Service and provision for 2022/23 would be £195,814. She said that the first proposal would be to retain this service, with the cost including the salaries of an SEMH coordinator, 3 SEMH coaches and 2 members of the behaviour support staff. She added that one of the members of the behaviour support staff had resigned, with a discussion to be had on whether this position should be re-filled.

The SEND Consultant for School Improvement informed the forum of the 3 different options set out in 3.4 and explained them. Mike Wallace asked what the element of risk was if the local authority did not break neutral and if there would be a backup plan in this instance.


The Head of Finance for Achieving for Children said that the cost that would occur would come from the High Needs block, rather than from the local authority. He said that they were currently working with 21 pupils and If 7 of these had been permanently excluded and had to spend two years in Alternative Provision, this would have cost more than the total cost of the core SEMH service. 


The Chairman asked if there was any evidence over the last few years that money was saved from other areas of the budget. The SEMH Coordinator (Alasdair Whitelaw) said that they had worked with 23 schools and 23 individual students, none of which had been permanently excluded. The Chairman acknowledged that this had therefore been successful.


The Director of Children’s Services said that a decision had to be made on potentially stopping or reducing services with less of a priority as the one present, in order to balance the costs and risks.


The Chairman asked if this would put the borough at risk from an Ofsted inspection. The Director of Children’s Services said that the borough had received a written statement of action in 2017 from Ofsted with regards to the borough’s children with additional needs. He said that he was not worried about an Ofsted inspection overall, however he was worried that the borough would not provide the right services to pupils within the schools.


The Chairman asked how much the borough had spent per child over the last 2 years towards the 23 children mentioned. The SEMH Coordinator said that per child for a half term, they had one coach mentor with a salary of approximately £21,000, with schools also having the option of spending £2,000 on resources. He noted that not all schools spent this allocated money.


The Director of Children’s Services said that it would have cost approximately around £17,000 per child compared to that of a special school placement, which would cost typically £35-40,000.


The SEND Consultant for School Improvement set out the 3 options to forum members in section 3.5 of the report. Joolz Scarlett said that if schools were to buy the discussed provision individually, then they would not be able to get the same deal as the one discussed.


The SEMH Coordinator confirmed this as the local authority had a license for 65 schools currently and 62 or 63 had subscribed to it, with 52 schools actively using it. He said that there was also a super user account with 34 schools having signed the SEMH Coordinator up as a super user, allowing him to see their data. He added that the cost of this would not be increasing in the next year and would remain at £16,900.


The SEND Consultant for School Improvement said that the super user account allowed for that person to see where there was a need for additional services, due to the overview that they had been allowed to see. She added that information could be used to support transitions in pupil’s school careers. 

The SEND Consultant for School Improvement stated the options available to the forum as set out in sections 3.6 and 3.7.  These were noted by the forum.


The Chairman asked if the vacant post of an SEMH assistant was to be filled. The SEND Consultant for School Improvement said that this was a decision that the forum needed to make. The Director for Children’s Services said that the money for this was currently budgeted for, however a discussion needed to be had on whether this was the best way forward.


The Chairman and the forum agreed that this service was an important one to maintain.


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