Evaluation of the SEND Reforms Leadership Programme 2017
This evaluation report considers the impact of the SEND Reforms Leadership Programme on those leading the implementation of the SEND reforms. It reflects on the effectiveness and advantages of the programme from participant’s perspectives. Examples of impacts on the delivery of services and broader organisational change are highlighted.
The SEND Reform Leadership Programme is delivered by the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) as part of the over-arching Delivering Better Outcomes Together (DBOT) support programme. he Leadership Programme was delivered with a second cohort of 40 participants in 2016-17 as a series of five two-day modules between July 2016 and March 2017.
Context and expectations
There is a balance in the cohort between leaders who are primarily seeking to enhance or broaden their knowledge of the SEND reforms, and those who are seeking opportunities to develop as leaders. The SEND reforms leadership programme is recognised as a unique offer, because it places that leadership development within the context of the SEND reforms.
Participants cited several challenges in the delivery of the reforms including tensions between process and quality, the scale and pace of change, work pressures, issues with capacity, and reduced resources. The programme is seen by attendees and their managers as an opportunity to confront these challenges.
Overall experience and rating of the programme
The programme has exceeded its KPI targets, receiving ratings of at least 85% on five aspects of participant experience, including content, relevance and quality of presentation and facilitation (against the agreed target of 70%) across all five modules.
Motivation and inspiration, the knowledge and expertise of the course leaders, and networking opportunities are key themes in participant’s satisfaction with the programme.
Data from the surveys of managers and participants indicate that all participants have experienced some improvement in their knowledge, skills and ideas, and that the programme has contributed to these developments.
Additional insights from the survey and telephone interviews demonstrate examples of active and conscious application of the learning and tools from the programme, and examples of changes to behaviour and practice.
The learning has been cascaded through a range of mechanisms (formal and informal). There were examples where the learning has been incorporated directly into staff training, shared across teams, and filtered upwards to Senior Management Teams and SEND Reform Boards.
The Personal Project is a highly valued aspect of the programme, and was consistently sited by participants as the most impactful aspect of the programme.
There were several examples of significant developments and changes in delivery arising from the personal projects, and some with early impacts:
A reduction in school-exclusions for children with complex needs and behaviour that challenges, and implementation of home-based support packages for children excluded from specialist provision;
3 new providers to deliver supported internships;
Delivery of good practice sessions around personalisation of study programmes;
Progress towards joining up health, education and social care budgets for children and adults;
Development of a framework to improve compliance, including a pilot of a ‘My Support Plan’ approach.
Participants’ ability to progress their project (and the pace of implementation) is dependent on a number of factors, including buy-in and influence across the Local Authority, the scale of the project, time and capacity to deliver, and the continued involvement of their programme partner.
The benefits of the programme fall under five key components, which can be considered as pre-requisites or enablers for change:
Facilitating greater linkages across different parts of the system
Ongoing mutual support
Access to evidence-based practice
Time to reflect
Promoting person-centred thinking and affirming priorities
Some of these advantages flow directly from the particulars of the programme design, namely the paired attendance model and two-day modules. Given these advantages, participants consider their investment in the programme to represent a good return for their organisation.
There were very few issues raised in relation to the delivery of the programme, and these were primarily related to issues of travel and time commitments, issues which participants report are offset by the benefits of attending the programme.
Participants suggested that greater balance in the education, health and care split of the cohort, and opportunities to attend as a triad of colleagues would strengthen the programme offer.
There is a strong commitment to continuing the exchange through the online forum and through future alumni events. Participants anticipate that the strengths will grow as future cohorts join the network.