Simplifying EHCP auditing at Wigan Council
As an early adopter of our Invision360 EHCP Audit Tool, we catch up with Wigan Council's SEND Service Manager, Hayley Jackson, who shares the benefits of introducing an EHCP Auditing Schedule.
Talking openly about the merits of a far more systematic approach, Hayley opens up about the impact of the Invision360 tool and her hopes for the future.
Hayley, please tell us a little about your local authority and your SEND team.
"Absolutely. As SEND Service Manager, a core aspect of my role is to quality assure services provided to children and young people with special educational needs.
"For context, we have nine staff within Wigan’s SEND team who are responsible for writing Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and over 2700 EHCPs. Although we have only just introduced the Invision360 EHCP audit tool, we can already see the difference it will make to the quality of EHCPs in the area, and by extension, to children, young people and their families."
Can you describe the QA process you had in place before introducing the Invision360 EHCP audit tool?
"Our Quality Assurance process itself hasn't changed, but we have seen dramatic changes in terms of the volume of EHCPs we can quality assure at a time.
"Before implementing the Invision360 EHCP audit tool, we would hold in-person panel meetings to review a sample of plans. Invision360 has completely changed this, as our team now meets virtually to discuss and feedback on any EHCP QA issues. We have far more flexibility now that we do not need everyone to be in the same room or even in the same office!
"Before using Invision360, reporting was intermittent, and the information we had did not allow us to drill down far enough.
"We needed to put in place a far more systematic process that would lead to a rich data set and enable us to see where improvements are needed, and the impact of any improvements made."
How has the Invision360 online EHCP audit tool been a positive influence?
"It's still very early, as we've not long implemented the tool, but we are already seeing the benefits.
"Essentially, the EHCP audit tool is enabling us to take a systematic approach to auditing. We use the data retrieved through the tool to analyse 'where' and 'why' EHCPs need improving.
"Crucially, the Invision360 EHCP audit tool enables us to pinpoint exactly where EHCP improvements are needed. This is then fed into the learning and development of staff to support the preparation of good quality EHCPs.”
How is the tool starting to improve the quality of EHCPs?
"It's early days, but we are making improvements. By being able to drill down in far more detail into each Section of the EHCP, we can see where training and development is required to improve the quality of plans in those areas.
"With a higher volume of plans now being quality assured at one, we also have a richer data set to benchmark and evidence improvements."
How has the auditing of EHCPs changed?
"The introduction of Invision360's tool has hugely simplified the auditing of EHCPs at Wigan Council. With the tool, our auditors now have a clear focus. Using the information with the EHCP audit tool, they can review a Section at a time and, by drilling down on information, ask, 'are we getting everything required from the contributing team?'. It really allows us to focus on how we can improve plans for children and young people.
"Rather than sharing a whole plan with individuals, the team can draw out and share specific bits of information or segments of the plan."
You've recently implemented an auditing schedule, a brilliant example of best practice. How has this helped the QA process?
"We now have an established auditing schedule in place with three cycles each year. Each cycle is followed up with targeted training for the team, in line with the areas for improvement highlighted within the tool.
"Having a schedule in place that's clear and easy to follow is also reassuring for the auditing team, as they know when it's coming up.
"Being able to do everything virtually also means we can schedule auditing around our other day-to-day commitments. It's a routine part of our daily practice now rather than being ad hoc. We're either carrying out audits, retrieving/sharing data or discussing areas for further training.
"Like any new quality assurance process, it does take time and is an additional ask of our team of 20 auditors. However, by having the Invision360 EHCP audit tool in place, we will know where and when to focus our resources better to improve the quality of plans.
"It also means that we know exactly when we will retrieve data sets for our team, which informs our processes. Using the audit information, we can confidently share with our teams what 'good' and 'outstanding' looks like and what we need to do to get there."
What's the most helpful aspect of the QA tool for your local authority?
"100%, it has got to be the data set that we are able to retrieve following the audits – it's rich and informative. It's also simple to share the information with strategic leads with the Council and is presented in a way that suits our needs. We can now focus on the 'so what' aspect and share this with the strategic team."
What would you say to another local authority considering investing in the online tool?
"I've already recommended Invision360 to my colleagues at other local authorities. The first thing that I tell people is that it supports a systematic approach to EHCP auditing and simplifies what is otherwise a complex process.
"EHCP auditing is already structured for you, and the data is instantly available – you don't need to look for information; the tool is intuitive enough to do this for you. You really cannot go wrong – auditing is now one of the easiest parts of my role."
Interested in finding out more about our tools? Book a free 30 minute demo today, with our Head of Partnerships, Mark Andrews.