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SEND Scrutiny Review - Witness Evidence


Candy Holder, Head of Pupil Services, gave a presentation on SEND Transitions.


In the presentation the following main points were made:

SEND Inspection

The recent SEND Inspection had been long awaited. The new inspection regime had been introduced in 2015 to see how well the 2014 reforms had been embedded and this was the first Islington inspection under the regime.  The introduction of EHCPs was one of the 2014 reforms. The inspection was ungraded which meant the result was either pass or fail. Where a local authority failed, a written statement was provided and there would be a further unannounced inspection. More than 50% of local authorities received a written statement and 91% of the inspections since June 2021 had received a written statement.


The inspection was a rigorous process. There were five inspectors for four days. Their work included meetings with focus groups, interviews with parents and they also undertook a parent survey. They also visited seven schools which were randomly selected by Ofsted. There was a focus on self-evaluation and whether this was accurate. The results of the inspection were confidential until the report was published.


Supported Internships

-      One of the areas for development that had been identified locally with parents and young people was that options for post-16 for pupils with the most complex needs were limited in variety. Although individual schools and training providers found future pathways, a more systemic and co-ordinated approach was needed. 

-      Supported Internships were one way of extending options. Supported Internships involved a structured study programme being delivered by a Further Education provider (such as Mencap or CandI). They were unpaid, lasted a minimum of six months and were based primarily at an employer.Alongside their time with the employer, young people completed a personalised study programme which included the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if appropriate, and English and maths.

-      Supported Internships enabled young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) to achieve sustainable paid employment by equipping them with the skills they required for work, through learning in the workplace. 

-      Supported Internships involved the young person and their family, the business, a training provider, a job coach and the young person’s school/college working in partnership.

-      The first local internships were in 2017 and there were five interns. This had grown to 32 interns by 2020.

-      The Local Offer now included competitive access to a range of supported internships including Mencap, Leisure@National Star College and hospital based programmes (Moorfields, Whittington, Great Ormond Street Hospital).

-      Jobs included: Childcare, Hotels, Retail, Catering, Leisure (e.g. Tottenham Football Club).

-      On average, 71% moved into employment by 2020, but this dipped during the COVID period, and there were currently interns repeating study programmes.

-      Through the development of Internship programmes, some important themes had been identified:

-      For those with EHCPs, the inclusion of Progression to Adulthood outcomes from the earliest stage, rather than just from year 9 onward, helped discussions about employment and raised aspirations.

-      Opportunities for exposure to the world of work and work experience – 100 hours of work, Think Forward / Move Forward programmes had an impact.

-      Transition planning and support, including engaging people over the summer holidays, was key.

-      There was a need for a family curriculum to address concerns such as changes in benefits and how to deal with increased independence of young people.

-      There was a need for follow-on support.

      Challenges included:

-      There remained a low expectation that young people with SEND would enter paid employment.

-    The capacity to keep track of the offer and making sure information about what was available, recruitment days etc. got to those who needed it.

-    COVID restrictions meant that some programmes finished in April 2020 and had not reopened.

-    Too many ‘Employment study programmes’ at local Further Education (FE) colleges were not actually linked to employers and were not able to offer work based learning. Development work was needed with FE providers.

-    Monitoring progress and job outcomes was an area for further work as there was a need to track people over a longer period and monitor if they stayed in employment.

-    The offer of Adjusted Apprenticeships remained under developed for young people with SEND locally, as elsewhere.

      One way of delivering Supported Internships was through Project SEARCH. Project SEARCH was a recognised internship support model that could accommodate different business sectors / regional variation whilst keeping to the critical core model components which were:

1) The sole definition of a successful outcome was competitive employment in an integrated setting for each intern; 2) Being business-led with interns learning relevant marketable skills whilst immersed in the business; 3) There being true collaboration among partner agencies which included businesses, schools/colleges, supported employment and families; 4) Interns experiencing total immersion in the workplace; 5) On-site support provided by a tutor and job coach; 6) Data being submitted to a national Project SEARCH database; 7) Project SEARCH graduates receiving effective follow-along services to retain employment.

      The DFN Foundation was a UK commissioning charity established by David Forbes-Nixon in 2014, inspired by his disabled son, to make a positive difference to the lives of young people with SEND.

      In 2018, the foundation was awarded the franchise rights in the UK to deliver Project Search, forming DFN Project Search. DFN Project Search was a transition to work programme for students with learning disabilities and autism spectrum conditions, aimed at those motivated to achieve competitive employment.

      As of October 2021, they had operated over 70 schemes throughout the UK and Europe and had supported more than 1,300 young people into paid work, including both Lambeth and Hackney Councils. 

      As the largest employer in Islington, consideration could be given to becoming a business partner in Project Search.

      In response to a member’s question about whether there was an expectation that the supported internship partner would offer permanent employment after the internship, the officer advised it was hoped this would be the case although it was important to find the best fit for a person’s skills.

      A member asked if Project Search was open to those who had already left school. The officer advised that the project was open to those aged 16-24. If a young person was still in school it made bridging easier but it was still possible for those not in school to join the project. There were limits on spaces and motivation to take part was a key indicator.

      In response to a member’s question about how long the unpaid internships lasted, the officer advised they usually lasted 6-12 months.

      In response to a member’s question, the officer advised that 70% went into paid employment after the project but it was not known if they remained there. As EHCPs lasted until a young person was 25, their key workers met them each year up until then and would know if they were still in employment but there was a need to track the cohort as a group to know if they were staying in paid employment.

      A member asked about adjusted apprenticeships and was advised that these could be used for some young people. However, no matter how much apprenticeships were adjusted, they would not be right for all young people. Project Search targeted a different group and although the internships were unpaid, they provided an opportunity for those that otherwise would not be working.

      Members raised concern about young people on the project not being paid. An officer stated that the project was about developing skills before progressing to paid employment, including Maths and English tuition. A member suggested that if the Council was the employer, paid work should be guaranteed after 3 or 6 months. The first part of the internship could then be for learning and the knowledge that paid work would follow would help motivate the young people.

      An officer stated that nationally over 50 Local Authorities were involved in Project Search and nationally 60% of interns who completed the project went into full term paid employment.

      Any proposal for the council to become involved with Project Search would require costing and a business case to go through the council’s approval process.



1) That the report be noted.

2) That Project Search be included as an agenda item at the March 2022 meeting.