Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will look at the information you use to track the performance of your SEND services.
Your data should be timely, comprehensive and integrated into the running of your service. You need to be able to understand how you are doing on a regular basis.
Inspection reports have identified weaknesses in the management information of SEND services. They highlight that:
- Where limited data or analysis exists, leaders are unable to identify the impact of their service on children with SEND
- Some authorities do not have enough information for planning and commissioning of services for the future.
Inspectors are using a range of data and picking up where performance of the local authority is below national average. In particular, they have raised concerns over:
- Attainment rates of SEND pupils compared with other students
- Rates of attendance and exclusion of SEND pupils
- The level of students with SEND entering paid employment
- Conversion rates from statements to ECHPs
- Assessment time frames.
In our experience, a lot of data exists on children with SEND. But it is often distributed around the Council, health service and schools. Achieving a complete picture of the service can be difficult.
There are 3 steps to getting your management information sorted.
Step 1 – Identify your data needs
You need to be clear about what you want to track. You need to answer the following questions:
- How are you going to measure the performance of your service?
- What indicators do you want to see?
- Who needs to see them?
- How often?
You are likely to have different users with different needs. Each audience will need a different level of detail. For example, Councillors will need summary information whereas SEND Managers will need more detailed breakdowns. You should consider these differing needs when defining your management information requirements.
Step 2 – Identify your data sources
Against each indicator, you will need to identify a data source. Some will be easy and will be available in your service. Others may be more difficult to source. Information may be patchy or you may need to source from different systems.
This process will identify areas where you need to improve the quality of your data. This should not prevent you from using and presenting the data, with the necessary health warnings. If it’s an important measure to track, you can improve the data whilst drawing conclusions from the data that does exist.
Step 3 – Pull your data together into a regular reporting framework
You should set up your standard reporting templates. These may include summary dashboard(s) as well as more detailed reporting. You should aim for:
- Consistency in presentation, so that users understand what they are looking at. Stick to a few styles of presentation for example bar charts, line graphs, maps
- Simple visual presentation so that users can see the key messages and trends. Consider using colour, trend lines or arrows to help the user.
You will also need to set up a process to populate these templates on a regular basis. You could create a data warehouse (a central repository that integrates data from different systems) and automate your updates (or use APIs) from other systems. This will ensure that your data is robust, accessible and consistent moving forwards.
Alternatively, it is possible to use the advanced functionality in tools such as Excel or Tableau to prepare your management information.
You need to define the process, responsibilities and timescales of data updates. This is particularly important where it involves third parties.
These steps should ensure you have all the information you need when the inspectors arrive. And more importantly, for you to manage your service effectively going forwards.