“The Invision360 EHCP audit tool has opened up so many doors at Swindon”
In our latest case study, we catch up with Hannah Geddert; Quality Assurance Senior Officer at Swindon Borough Council, to find out more about the journey they’ve been on with improving the quality of Education, Health and Care Plans.
We’ve got to say, Hannah and her team have been on quite the transformation journey in such a short amount of time. So, we thought we’d touch base to share their learnings and the role that Invision360 is playing.
Hannah, could you give us a background on the service improvements that have been made?
Yes, of course. Swindon Borough Council is an innovative and supportive Local Authority. We are not afraid to embrace new technologies and solutions to help our local community.
Our SEND Service is a good example of this. It seems like a long time ago now when the service had an Ofsted inspection (in 2018) that resulted in being issued with a Written Statement of Action (WSoA). Eight areas were identified as requiring improvement; the quality of EHC Plans being one. Since then, we’ve been on quite an improvement journey.
We were delighted when a successful Ofsted re-inspection took place in October 2021 revealing that we had fulfilled the requirements of the WSoA and were no longer under DfE monitoring.
We’re still very much on an improvement journey though. The SEND service has recently seen significant investment and a restructure has taken place. We now have a Statutory SEND Service with an Assessment Hub and three Annual Review Hubs (North, South and Preparing for Adulthood (PfA)). We also have a SEND Operations Team who oversee Quality Assurance & Finance, Delivery & Systems, Policy & Performance, Local Offer & Workforce Development and Children’s Services Travel.
Recently, we have also introduced the Invision360 EHCP audit tool, which has vastly improved the way we audit EHC plans.
How were EHCPs audited before you introduced Invision360?
Following the WSoA [before Invision360 even existed] we designed our own Quality Assurance Framework, which we’re immensely proud of. Today, it is recognised within the South West region as an example of good practice.
The Quality Assurance Framework provides us with a structure that enables all partners to engage with quality assurance, measuring the impact of service delivery and proactively seeking the views of children, young people and their families.
In developing the framework, we created a tool that outlined the statutory compliance indicators for EHC Plans and advice. We also mapped out a 3-level QA process to include a Multi-Agency Quality Assurance (MAQA) forum that meets bi-monthly.
However, the audit tool for measuring the quality of EHC Plans, as thorough as it was, was a Word document. Team leaders would quality assure all draft EHC Plans, whether these be from new assessments, or amendments following an Annual Review. The data from these completed audits would then be manually entered into a spreadsheet ahead of review.
Whilst this gave us some insightful data and allowed us to target key areas to improve quality, it was a time consuming process. Unfortunately, due to this, we were left with very little time to investigate the data further. Also, we had no way of showing the moderation of this data i.e. the quality of an EHC Plan at Team Leader level compared to MAQA level.
Similarly, there was no way of comparing the quality of our EHC plans to that of other local authorities.
When we discovered the Invision360 EHCP audit tool, it was as if we had found the missing piece of the puzzle. The tool not only takes away the vast majority of manual processes, it also allows us to benchmark ourselves against 27 other local authorities who are also using Invision360.
How has the Invision360 EHCP audit tool been a positive influence at Swindon?
Like with any new system, it can take a while to get used to the change or a change in process, but the Invision360 EHCP audit tool has allowed us to ensure an objective quality assurance process that is now fully embedded within our service.
We’re able to see how we compare to other local authorities and can clearly pinpoint which sections of our plans need more focus, and where we are doing well.
Whilst not yet embedded within our MAQA forum, we are excited to start using the moderation feature to ensure consistency with quality assurance across the local area. We now have a lens into the areas that need more focussed attention on our journey to becoming ‘Outstanding’.
How has the tool improved the quality of your EHCPs?
When we moved over to Invision360, we were fully expecting to see a dip in the quality of EHC plans due to the subjectivity of quality assurance being taken away. Therefore, it’s difficult to compare the quality, prior to using the tool, as the audits were completed in different ways.
What we are seeing, though, is that we are now able to hone in on sections of the plans that need more focus, either within the service or within advice writing.
How much easier is it to audit EHCPs now that you have Invision360?
It’s much easier. The feedback from our Statutory SEND Service Team Leaders has been positive.
Here are just a couple of things they’ve shared:
“It’s easy to navigate through and simple to use” and
“The interface is straightforward and user friendly…it’s colourful and aesthetically pleasing”
With so many people and services involved in the process, ease of use is essential. Invision360 has made the analysis of the quality assurance of EHC plans easy, allowing us to gather much more data than we had previously been able to.
What would you say is the most useful aspect of the tool?
That’s a tough question. I’d say that the most useful feature is the reporting functionality at the ‘touch of a button’. In no time at all, we’re able to further drill down data. This has opened up so many doors for us. We can now see if there’s a particular Primary Need where plans are of higher or lower quality. Or we can identify if there is a team member who continuously produces high quality plans or if there is a key stage where the quality of plans needs more attention.
With our previous manual quality assurance processes this would not have been possible without intensive resource allocation each time a new audit was completed.
How have you found the removal of subjectivity?
Before introducing the Invision360 EHCP audit tool, we’d see spikes in the overall quality and quality of individual sections of EHC plans, depending on how many plans were quality assured by a particular team leader. For example, if a team leader was more lenient than others, and if they quality assured the majority of plans analysed within a certain time period, our average scoring would show spikes in quality.
With Invision360, we no longer have this problem since subjectivity is removed from the process, so it’s having a positive impact.
What would you say to another local authority thinking about using the tool?
We know that the quality of EHC plans is a high priority for our children, young people and their families. 100% reach out to the team at Invision360 and let them show you how the tool works before you decide it’s not for you.
It has been a real pleasure working with the Invision360 team. They’ve been nothing but helpful during our implementation, and use, of the tool. They’ve been on the end of the phone or email, and on the odd occasion where we’ve encountered a technical difficulty, they’ve been quick to find a solution.
Ultimately, Invision360 has opened up so many opportunities for the monitoring of the quality of our EHC plans. When we have more data, we will be able to use this information to help us become an Outstanding service.
Interested in finding out more about our tools? Book a free 30 minute demo today, with our Head of Partnerships, Mark Andrews.