Chair’s Blog (December 2016)


A little while ago the National Committee was asked to provide some advice / support to members who were experiencing pressure from their Local Authorities to increase the numbers on roll within their specialist provisions. Some of these requests were intent on moving up the roll from 50/60 to well over 100. This is a potentially dangerous move. Although funding would inevitably increase, albeit at a lower per capita rate than we would like, the real issue is not one of numbers and funding but of the need for Local Authorities to appreciate that in the world of SEMH there is a terminal capacity before things get potentially dangerous for both pupils and staff.

Across the National Committee we agreed that the ideal number for SEMH provisions would be between 40 and 60 pupils. This allows the funding to be at an acceptable level so we can undertake high quality interventions and also protects pupils and staff from having ‘too many’ complex needs on site at the same time. Practitioners in SEMH will all understand the concept outlined and the potential benefits and disadvantages of the right and wrong number of pupils on roll, but how do we get Local Authorities to listen? We discussed this at length and came to the conclusion that in a world becoming increasingly reliant on litigation to resolve issues the most effective way of communicating the risks was through the Health and Safety approach. I am pleased to share that the Local Authorities involved in this request for support accepted this argument and as a consequence, although numbers are to be increased they will be spread over multiple sites with separate teams, a much more sensible, safe and effective solution.

What was particularly nice about this interaction with the National Committee was that we were able to utilise the core function of our association, peer support, to result in a better outcome for members and perhaps more significantly, for pupils and the teams that work with them. I would like to remind you all that we exist to support you as a valued member and if you have an issue to hand, please don’t hesitate to contact your next door member,  Regional Representative or the National Committee and we can, united, support the best outcomes for young people who experience SEMH.

Merry Christmas !