Agenda item

Early Years Special Education Needs (SEN) Centre procurement

Decision:

Cllr Stephen Davies sought Cabinet approval to increase the current level of funding from the Dedicated Schools Grant for the purpose of funding the commissioning of Early Years Special Education Needs (SEN) centres for a period of up to 5 years.

The Early Years SEN centres will deliver the provision of early education and assessment and intervention for children with SEN as set out in this report.

 

Having considered all of the information, Cabinet noted the report and

 

 

RESOLVED to:

 

 

1. Approves the allocation of £440,000 per year high needs funding for the purpose of funding the commissioning of early years special educational needs centres as described in Recommendation 2.

2. Delegates authority to the Director of Education, in consultation with Cabinet Member for Children’s Safeguarding and Early Years, to:

a) Conduct a competitive procurement process in respect of a contract for the supply of early years special educational needs centres in Gloucester city and Cheltenham/Tewkesbury locality. The proposed contract shall continue for an initial period of 3 years and include an option to extend its term for a further period of not more than 2 years.

 

b) Award such contract to the preferred tenderer; and

c) Determine whether to exercise the option to extend the term of the said contract on its third anniversary.

Minutes:

7.1     Cllr Stephen Davies sought Cabinet approval to increase the current level of funding from the Dedicated Schools Grant for the purpose of funding the commissioning of Early Years Special Education Needs (SEN) centres for a period of up to 5 years.

The Early Years SEN centres would deliver the provision of early education and assessment and intervention for children with SEN as set out in this report.

 

7.2     This related to £440,000 per year high needs funding for the purpose of funding the commissioning of 2 early years special educational needs centres. (£220,000 per year per centre, for a 3-year period.) The total estimated value of the proposed 3-year year contract for the provision was £1,320,000.  If the council elected to exercise its 2-year extension option thereunder, the total estimated contract value is £2,200,000.

 

7.3       The proposed contract for the supply of Early Years SEN Centres would replace the current contract, which was due to end in August 2024.  The proposed new contact would support the Council’s Childcare Sufficiency Duty, ensuring sufficient, quality early education and childcare provision for children with SEN. Investment in the procurement would support the early identification and provision of appropriate support for young children with SEND, enhancing the opportunity for them to transition effectively into mainstream education in line with the council’s Inclusion Strategy 2022-25.  This would reduce pressure on the school sector specialist placements and as a consequence reduce the High Needs block overspend.  

 

7.4     Due to the additional support and funding available to mainstream Early Years (EY) settings, most children accessed their EY education entitlement in a local setting. Some children had complex needs that mean they are unable to access their EY entitlement and/or a multi-agency assessment in a mainstream setting.  The current EY SEN centre pilot had achieved its intended objectives, with 80% of children transitioning to mainstream school . This was important for  children’s outcomes and reducing pressure on high-cost specialist placements and the need for out of county in non-maintained or independent special schools at higher cost. 

 

The additional funding required to support the continuation and expansion of the procured provision would be delivered by the High Needs Block (HNB) of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). DSG was £45.7m in deficit by the end of the 2023/24 financial year with the in-year High Needs deficit being £18.5 million.

 

 

Having considered all of the information, Cabinet noted the report and

 

 

RESOLVED to:

 

 

1. Approves the allocation of £440,000 per year high needs funding for the purpose of funding the commissioning of early years special educational needs centres as described in Recommendation 2.

2. Delegates authority to the Director of Education, in consultation with Cabinet Member for Children’s Safeguarding and Early Years, to:

a) Conduct a competitive procurement process in respect of a contract for the supply of early years special educational needs centres in Gloucester city and Cheltenham/Tewkesbury locality. The proposed contract shall continue for an initial period of 3 years and include an option to extend its term for a further period of not more than 2 years.

 

b) Award such contract to the preferred tenderer; and

c) Determine whether to exercise the option to extend the term of the said contract on its third anniversary.

 

Supporting documents: