Agenda item

Review of Wirral's Provision for Children and Young People with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties / Disabilities


A report by the Acting Director of Children’s Services reminded the Cabinet that on 14 February 2011, the Council had made the following resolution in response to a petition submitted by the Mayor and Councillor Tom Harney:


“Resolved (63:0) – That the Council initiates, as a matter of urgency, a thorough review of the current provision for children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) on Wirral. The review will produce a comprehensive policy regarding the best ways to educate, support and care for these children and young people including transition from and provision during life beyond school. Parents will be fully involved in the planning and writing of this policy.”


(Minute No. 80B refers.)


This review was to be presented to the Cabinet by the end of 2011.


Responsibility for the review was passed to the Acting Deputy Director of Children’s Services and, in line with the Council’s policy a project was established following the Principles of Prince2.


It was agreed that the resolution would be actioned in two ‘phases’.  Phase 1 would be a review of the current services received by children and young people with PMLD and their families.  Phase 2, if the recommendations (listed below) were accepted by the Cabinet, would consist of an update of identified policies, procedures and services in line with the recommendations.


The review of current services was carried out on the authority’s behalf by the University of Chester whose full report was available on the Council’s website.  The Executive Summary was attached as Appendix 1 to the report. The review identified a number of areas where changes could be made to services which would improve the quality of service received by parents.  The recommendations listed below addressed these areas and, if approved by Members would be addressed in Phase 2:


Recommendation 1

The authority reviews its school transport arrangements for children and young people with PMLD and discusses with the five CLD (Complex Learning Difficulties) schools and others how access to extended school activities both during term time and school holidays can be improved – short term.


Recommendation 2

The authority in collaboration with all its key partners reviews procedures for successfully managing all key age related transition periods in order to make them as smooth as possible. In particular lessons can be learned from where transitions work well e.g. from early years provision into early years settings/school, and applied elsewhere. Particular attention should be given to the emotional as well as practical support needed by parents, children and young people – short to medium term.


Recommendation 3

An “information point” be developed for parents and professionals which identifies the full range of services available to parents, children and young people and how they might be accessed – including any particular criteria that might apply. Allied to this will be the development of a communication strategy which ensures that such information is made available where it is accessible and convenient to parents. This fits well with the Green Paper recommendation of making clear to parents “what is the local offer”, and the recent survey carried out by NHS Wirral “The Wirral Way” – medium term.


Recommendation 4

The authority gives consideration to how the role of ‘key worker’ might be developed. This role would go beyond that of providing support and guidance at particular points of stress or crisis in a child’s life and would provide longer term involvement and a connection between the family and the services they need. Clearly such a role could only be established in close co-operation with the family. Again this is another Green Paper recommendation – medium term.


Recommendation 5

The authority continues to explore with parents and staff from its five CLD schools further ways of reassuring all parents that the security, safety, educational and developmental needs of children and young people with PMLD are well met in all its establishments. In particular, the authority should explore with parents and schools potentially innovative and creative ways in which the needs of some of the most vulnerable PMLD children might be met by special schools working more closely together – medium to long term.


Recommendation 6

The authority will continue to keep all its CLD schools under review regarding the adequacy of the physical environment and premises and, within the bounds of efficient use of resources, seek ways to improve these where possible - ongoing.


Recommendation 7

The authority’s planning department gives due consideration to ways in which it might prioritize applications from families of children with PMLD and other significant physical/medical/sensory needs – short to medium term.


Recommendation 8

The remit of the working group which is developing the Learning Disability Housing Plan for adults be broadened to incorporate the needs of the families of children with PMLD and other significant physical/medical/sensory needs – medium term.


Recommendation 9

The authority engages with its partners in health and the voluntary sector regarding whether the services e.g. incontinence and mobility aids provided to families of children and young people with profound and significant physical and medical needs are appropriate to their needs – short to medium term.


Recommendation 10

All assessment processes operated by or on behalf of the various statutory agencies involved with families of children and young people with PMLD and which lead to the allocation of provision and/or resources be reviewed to ensure their transparency and accountability. In particular, they should ensure that parents feel themselves to be full and equal partners in meeting the needs of their children – short to medium term.


Recommendation 11

The needs of children and young people with PMLD and other severe and significant learning difficulties and disabilities and the needs of their families be incorporated within the continuous development programmes for all relevant staff across the authority. The emphasis should not only be on raising awareness of the needs of

this group but also on how they can be fully included within the Wirral community – medium to long term.


In considering the outcomes of the review, the Cabinet was asked to be mindful that only a third of potential parents responded to the request for their views, and of these, a majority were of children who attended one school.  Nonetheless it was considered that the views expressed were significant and merited action.


Councillor T Harney was in attendance at the meeting and at the invitation of the Chair addressed the meeting.  He thanked Councillors S Foulkes and J Green for their contributions that allowed this project to get started.  The project was well underway with one more phase to come.  Parents had found it very helpful and were pleased that people were listening to them.  Councillor Harney told the Cabinet that he hoped this would be taken forward as a coherent approach to life’s journey for people with profound disabilities.  It was important that officers continued to talk to parents and carers over how the Council could help this vulnerable group.




(1)  recommendations 1-11, as set out above be approved and implemented as part of Phase 2 of the PMLD review and that their implementation be co-ordinated by the Interim Director of the Children’s Services;


(2)  as envisaged in the original resolution, parents will again be closely involved; and


(3)  the Acting Deputy Director of Children’s Services, the Strategic Development Manager and the University of Chester be thanked for their hard work on the review of the current provision for children and young people with PMLD .

Supporting documents: