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The Quality Assurance and Provider Development Team deliver services for Suffolk children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, that are among the best and most innovative in England.
The team are responsible for developing professional relationships and provide challenge to raise standards with a range of alternative educational providers. This includes engaging pro-actively with providers, stakeholders and key partners to ensure standards are consistently met through a quality assurance process whilst remaining passionate about transforming the experiences of Suffolk children, young people and their families.
You can search the Local Offer directory for services that have been quality assured by our team.
In order for a school to be given the Suffolk QA badge, Schools were required to demonstrate ability in a number of areas which included:
- the ability to meet service user needs including details on the types of packages and provision available for learners with SEND
- arrangements for safeguarding the welfare of children and young people and multi agency work
- achievement of learners, attendance rates and post 16 progression
- access to a skilled workforce.
The quality assurance of the Independent schools is an ongoing process designed to ensure that all users have confidence in the services delivered by these schools. In the first instance schools were asked to complete the Quality Assurance process. This involved providing written documentation which was followed up with a visit from the Suffolk Quality Assurance team. Independent Schools are required to share termly performance data as part of the monitoring process. If there are issues identified with any school as result of this process the QA team will follow up with visits and rigorous monitoring of the school.
Requirements for entry
The following areas are considered :
- Registration with Ofsted or the ISI and results of these inspections
- Economic and Financial Standing
- Technical and Professional Ability
- Compliance with Equality Legislation
- Health and Safety
- Service Delivery Model
- Skilled Workforce
- Registration, Admission and Induction
- Progress Reporting
- Attendance and Challenging Behaviours
- Relationships with Stakeholders
- Internal Quality Assurance
An independent school is defined as any school at which full time education is provided for five or more pupils of compulsory school age, or one or more such pupils with an EHC plan or a statement of special educational needs or who is “looked after” by the local authority and is not a school maintained by a local authority or a non-maintained special school.
If your establishment falls outside the definition of an independent school given above, it cannot be registered with the department as an independent school. However, local authorities will need to be satisfied that children of compulsory school age who are attending your establishment are receiving full-time education suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have, including any provision being made in parallel to that in your establishment. It is an offence to operate an unregistered independent school, and anyone who does so is liable on summary conviction to a fine and/or imprisonment.
There is no legal definition of ‘full time’. However, we would consider an institution to be providing full-time education if it is intended to provide, or does provide, all, or substantially all, of a child’s education. Relevant factors in determining whether education is full-time include:
a) the number of hours per week that is provided - including breaks and independent study time;
b) the number of weeks in the academic term year the education is provided;
c) the time of day it is provided;
d) whether the education provision in practice precludes the possibility that full-time education could be provided elsewhere.
This is because the education being provided is taking up the substantial part of the week in which it can be reasonably expected a child can be educated, and therefore indicates that the education provided is the main source of education for that child. Ofsted may inspect an institution it reasonably considers is operating as an unregistered independent school. In such cases, Ofsted will assess whether the school meets the definition of an independent school, which will include assessing whether or not the school is intending to provide, or is providing, all or substantially all of a child’s education.
Education for 16-19 year olds
An independent school that provides solely for students over compulsory school age does not need to register with the department. The department does not exercise any direct statutory control over the independent sector of further and higher education, nor is that sector governed by regulations applying to maintained or assisted further and higher education institutions. Establishments that cater for five or more compulsory school age pupils, or one or more such pupils with a statement of special educational needs, or who is looked after, as well as those over the age of 16 will however be required to register as an independent school.
Special Educational Needs
There is no legal definition of an ‘independent special school’, although that title is sometimes used for around 500 independent schools which have described themselves as being specially organised to cater for children with SEN. The application form for registration asks whether the school is to be specially organised in this way, and this is recorded on Edubase, which constitutes the Register of Independent Schools
Alternative Provision offered by settings other than Pupil Referral Units or Independent School that is Quality Assurance through the Local Authority process can be used by schools to support students that need an intervention at any particular point during student’s education. Although these providers are quality assured through the Local Authority it remains the school’s responsibility to commission the provision as these students will be on role the of a mainstream school or pupil referral unit. There may be exceptional situations where the Local Authority commissions a provider to provide a bespoke package for student. This could be as a result of a permanent exclusion or in other exceptional circumstances.
In relation to IYFAP this meeting is only able to direct and place students within the Pupil Referral Unit estate and with the LA commissioned Include provision. IYFAP will not commission any other provision for students. For students with an EHCP the SEND code of practice 9.78 states,
“The child’s parent or the young person has the right to request a particular school, college or other institution of the following type to be named in their EHC plan:
- maintained nursery school
- maintained school and any form of academy or free school (mainstream or special)
- non-maintained special school
- further education or sixth form college
- independent school or independent specialist colleges (where they have been approved for this purpose by the Secretary of State and published in a list available to all parents and young people)”
If a provider or parent wish for an Alternative Provision provider to be named in a student’s EHCP all of the above are registered schools’ line with the DfE guidance below.
“You (the provider) must register with the Department for Education (DfE) in England before you can run an independent school.
You must register if you’ll provide full time education for:
- 5 or more pupils of compulsory school age
- 1 or more pupils of compulsory school age with a education, health and care (EHC) plan or statement of special educational needs (SEN)
- 1 or more pupils of compulsory school age who are looked-after by the local council”.