Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

High Cost Educational Packages

A small number of children and young people will require specialist education services because of the nature of their needs. It is critically important that the needs of these children and young people are identified as early as possible and planning put in place to ensure a smooth transition to the identified alternative provision.

It is acknowledged that seeking provision outwith Orkney must be the final sequence in a series of interventions made to address the needs of the child, young person and the family. As such, placing children and young people in provision away from their homes and families must be seen as a last resort.

It would be extremely rare for out of Orkney placements to be considered for children below the age of five. However, in these rare exceptional situations the procedures for statutory school age children would apply.

In most situations an out of authority placement will only be considered when all local interventions have been exhausted or deemed inappropriate. There are however exceptional circumstances where it is clear at an early stage that a specialist placement is required as early as possible. An example of exceptionality is where the child’s experience at home is placing him or her at risk and is inhibiting the school’s ability to promote development and learning. A second example is where the child or young person has very complex medical needs which are difficult to address within Orkney and are affecting their ability to access local education provisions.

Pupils likely to be in need of additional services will already have their progress closely monitored by schools. The Educational Psychology Service and representatives from Community Social Services will have been fully involved in identifying ways in which pupils might be maintained in school in Orkney and it is generally expected that these children will already have a Co-ordinated Support Plan.

When the possibility of an out of Orkney placement arises, approval from two Assistant Directors, the Support for Learners and Children and Families, is required before further evaluation can take place. A formal discussion can then take place once the possibility of an out of Orkney placement has been raised with parents and those with parental responsibility.

For children and young people of school age, the assigned Educational Psychologist will be responsible for arranging a meeting with Education and Social Services personnel to explore the reasons why an outwith authority placement may be necessary. Where there are health issues NHS Orkney representatives will be asked to attend.

The meeting described above will consider all available information concerning the child’s difficulties, strengths and needs and will establish the following:

  • All local provision has been explored
  • Normal supervisory techniques have been tried
  • Family placement is considered inappropriate or is unavailable
  • Local residential provision is inappropriate or unavailable
  • Consideration has been taken of legal aspects.

The meeting will also agree upon the objectives of seeking an out of Orkney placement, including how possible reintegration within Orkney based provisions may be worked towards and the optimum number of visits home to meet the agreed needs of the child.

Responsibility for co-ordinating the identification and nomination of the school most likely to address the needs of the child or young person rests with the Principal Educational Psychologist. The Principal Psychologist will arrange to visit the establishments being considered along with appropriate representatives from Social Services.

Once a place or range of possible places has been identified, a meeting will be arranged to determine the budgetary implications and ongoing case management arrangements, including how the progress of the placement will be reviewed.

The parents will be offered the chance to visit the short-listed provisions.

Parents and child or young person will be informed of progress towards securing a place but no firm commitment should be made until the funding arrangements are in place and formal agreements of the terms of the placement have been finalised.

Critically, from the outset, a plan should be drawn up which details how to review progress towards meeting the objectives of the placement including appropriate criteria for a return to Orkney.