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Ugger, Ouryve, and everyone: FOI ideas for SEN department targets and rewards for targets met

(25 Posts)
senvet Thu 05-Feb-15 13:37:24

on foi, is it a question of "Please supply your SEN department targets and policy for rewards on targets met?"

Would that do it?

I did hear Kent had this for their Tribunal rep, but don't know if it is true.

Sorry 2boys to have started this on your 'I won' post.

uggerthebugger Thu 05-Feb-15 15:42:32

I don't know that it would, senvet. Tonight, I'll dig out the original FOI request I made, but in the meantime...

The problem I've found with FOI is that generic requests get met with generic answers - big, bullet-point, mission statement, PowerPoint slide bullshit. The bad stuff is happening down at a lower level.

So for example, you might get an answer back saying that the SEN department's main target is "to ensure efficient use of LA resources," and that staff "receive awards appropriately in line with the Council's staff objectives and appraisals policy."

All of that might be true. All of that sounds lawful - they do indeed have a duty to ensure efficient public expenditure. But it's how LA staff are directed to turn these broad objectives into outcomes (and how they are incentivised) that matters. That's where lawful behaviour is likely to slide into unlawful behaviour.

So if the overall target is "to ensure efficient use of LA resources", OK, fine. Don't like it, but can't argue against it.

But if LA staff are given objectives to, for example, "halve the number of new statements or EHCPs issued by the LA in the 2014-15 financial year", or "reduce LA spending on non-maintained special schools by £1m in the financial year" - then that's a clear incentive to unlawful behaviour. Particularly if you as an LA SEN officer get given a bonus if this happens, or if it gives you your only shot at a payrise this year.

That's why I think the request has to be specific - but not so specific that it crosses the line into personal data.

I'll keep scratching my head. I like Ourvye's idea of focusing in on the department or team, rather than individuals - if you can think of a way of phrasing the request in a specific way whilst keeping the department or team focus, I'd be happy to re-submit the request.

senvet Thu 05-Feb-15 16:28:20

I'll head-scratch too.
An undercover journalist in the departments is what we really need.
Why doesn't Dispatches read these boards.

2boysnamedR Thu 05-Feb-15 16:47:22

I worked in this area. Foi. You should be able to get it somehow. Anyone know a journalist who could ask? Unless it breaks national security or personal data.

2boysnamedR Thu 05-Feb-15 16:48:24

Jump in anytime senvet, the more I can do to stop even one more family being screwed over the better

ouryve Thu 05-Feb-15 23:04:08

I think the difficulty is knowing who you're targeting it at. Most statement/EHCP communications I've had from the LA come from a handful of people with a specific role in a particular team, but it's impossible to know whether they're all of them, or part of a team of 20, which would make a departmental request less meaningful. (I'm doubting this, mind, because they actually give the impression of being constantly run off their feet)

As for the nature of the request, I think questions like "what is the nature of any incentive?" or "in what way are ... incentivised?" "which targets would need to be met to trigger a reward?" "what proportion of these worker's salaries depends upon...?" "on average, what percentage of the salary of people in this department depended on meeting the given targets?"

There would be many ways around just about any question (either too specific or too easy to sidestep), and I suspect that a range of complementary questions would need to be asked to get anywhere need the truth from some LAs.

2boys the whatdotheyknow website enables anyone to make a FOI request.

senvet Thu 05-Feb-15 23:29:09

Would it work to ask a given LA
1) the number of officials employed to make and process decisions on behalf of the LA about EHCPs or Statements of SEN as defined by section 20 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and/or section 312 of the Education Act 1996 (excluding expert advisers such as Educational Psychologists, Specialist Teachers etc)
2) the total value of pay and/or perks paid to those people in performance related pay
3) the criteria for obtaining performance related pay/perks for those people

ouryve Thu 05-Feb-15 23:42:38

For 1, you'd want it broken down by department, since statementing (or whatever they'recalled now) officers, EPs, specialist teachers, SEN advisory departments etc are separate departments under separate funding mandates ad lumped together would probably be quite numerous.

I think it owuld be helpful to work out department structure for various LAs and concentrate on officers and EPs.

ouryve Thu 05-Feb-15 23:48:29

And by EPs, I mean in the EP department, Our LA has those, who have responsibility for assessing towards SA/NA but also has EPs working in advisory/troubleshooting roles to schools, eg ASD advisors and goodness knows what else that I have no direct experience of.

ouryve Thu 05-Feb-15 23:52:42

Google [LA] staffing structure - that got me to departmental structural names for mine.

senvet Fri 06-Feb-15 00:17:31

Do we have a target list of LAs? The SEND data of tribunals per LA might be a start...

senvet Fri 06-Feb-15 21:58:33

Well done ouryve Any rumours going round on the Facebook sites?

2boysnamedR Fri 06-Feb-15 22:10:39

This site is good.

Not sure what the mum who runs this site might know.

2boysnamedR Fri 06-Feb-15 22:13:48

You need to find a big lea with high population and high appeals. Shouldn't be hard as there are lots of them in the tables :0)

Do you think they look at the person raising the requests, remember our names and block without thinking? I could farm some foi requests out too friends if that helps.

senvet Sat 07-Feb-15 20:02:17

I was told to put an foi request in a different name - my neighbour did it.
Who told me this?
The LA's foi officer!

2boysnamedR Sat 07-Feb-15 20:36:06

Really? Lol! That's bonkers.

senvet Sun 08-Feb-15 00:06:10

I think the name of the person requesting is supposed to be kept confidential from the departments supplying the information but they were saying there was a risk of it getting known.

It was a while ago, and I don't recall exactly but I definitely remember being advised to find a different name.

2boysnamedR Sun 08-Feb-15 00:33:28

hmmm - I don't think the requester name is kept secret, not in my experience,

ouryve Sun 08-Feb-15 00:44:29

If you ask through what do they kow, then your username and any other FOI requests you have made are visible to all.

senvet Sun 08-Feb-15 23:11:55

Anyone any news on a good target LA?
I have some conflicts so would prefer to rely on someone footloose and fancy free on this selection

2boysnamedR Mon 09-Feb-15 00:34:20

Kent looked pretty high on those tables. Essex - but from what I hear they might be a bad idea :0/

senvet Mon 09-Feb-15 09:08:24

Kent is one of the biggest LAs and they have a reputation for coaching their witnesses - don't know if they still do.

I think they have a Tribunal department as a separate thing from the bulk of Education Officers.

I'll see what their structure looks like

2boysnamedR Mon 09-Feb-15 13:47:47

My la certainly coach their witness. I don't how how two different people who had never met my son could be so passionate he had no sen - but I'm not in Kent

uggerthebugger Mon 09-Feb-15 15:23:52

senvet, I've got a few candidates, and I'm happy to take some on. I'm knee-deep in someone else's refuse right now, hopefully I'll be free towards the end of the week? sad

senvet Wed 11-Feb-15 00:43:02

Just seen CurrerBell asking about transport on their final statement.

At the end she (?he) says about how hard they had to fight to get the statement, and how they were refused assessment.
The it says:-
"the LA have included a questionnaire asking what I thought they could have done to make the process easier..."

Now would an foi reveal those questionnaires? I think they would have to be anonymous.

I've asked.....

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