Virtual Schoolbag (VSB)

25 Mar 2019
Sencos of all schools
For information
New referral form for Community Paediatrics – with effect from 23 April 2019

Follow up to VSB 2018/260

In order to remove mixed messages from the system and ensure every school is fulfilling their statutory responsibilities, we have updated the MIGF – with effect from 23 April 2019.

On 10 September 2018 we sent VSB number 2018/260 to inform you that the Multidisciplinary Information Gathering form (MIGF) had been updated; a section near the beginning asks you to confirm that you have accessed appropriate support services and you are also asked to provide information on and the results of any assessments you have done in school to clarify a child’s needs. Hopefully you have found this form straightforward to use.

The letter from paediatricians that accompanied this change also clarified that schools can and should refer directly to Community Paediatrics; schools should not be asking a family to go to their GP. Sometimes children may be showing minimal signs in school of developmental difficulties; paediatricians asked that you support children whose families have approached their GP by providing clear information about the child in school.

Support for pupils with SEND

Following best practice under the SEND Code of Practice, schools will strive to identify any additional and special educational needs and intervene early to meet those needs.  It is a shared expectation in the Local Area that all pupils will receive the right support, with the school engaging specialist services as needed, without the need for a medical diagnosis to initiate this process.  A diagnosis may be needed to establish if there is a neurodevelopmental reason for the behaviours or need for support; but the diagnostic process must not be a barrier to securing a pupil’s progress and wellbeing.

ISEND believe best practice is being followed in the vast majority of cases; however, we have received parent/carer feedback that suggests these systems may not be clear for everyone and pupils may be missing out on vital intervention in school. For example, some parent/carers are being asked, incorrectly, to obtain a diagnosis before their school will put any support in place.

In order to remove mixed messages from the system and ensure every school is fulfilling their statutory responsibilities, we have updated the MIGF to say that a referral to community paediatricians will not be accepted unless an ISEND Front Door Referral has already been made.

This is important for two reasons:

  • The ISEND Front Door should know about the pupils most vulnerable to underachievement

Even in the case of schools with a high level of expertise around inclusion, if progress or behaviour continues to be a concern despite excellent universal provision the school should be seeking specialist advice from the ISEND Front Door. Behaviour is communication and this ensures that all underlying needs have been explored and strategies have been implemented and reviewed before referral for diagnosis is considered.

  • Specialist advice, support and intervention should be in place for the pupil if there is this level of concern

The referral process for a medical diagnosis must not impact on, or delay, the provision for a pupil with additional needs. As stated on the MIGF: during the information gathering process and any possible subsequent assessments, school support systems will remain in place, matching the levels of support and identified needs according to the ESCC Matrix, SEN Code of Practice, SEN policies of the school and Children’s Service Department.

Please use the new form on this link (scroll to the bottom) from Term 5. Previous versions of the MIGF will not be accepted from 23 April 2019:

CZONE Resources Page

You will also find accompanying guidance from the paediatricians on this page.

If you have engaged a traded referral from an ISEND service for a pupil and you can evidence the professional strategies and advice in the assess, plan, do, review cycle; this is equivalent to an ISEND Front Door referral and you will be able to record this on the MIGF.

As this is a strengthened requirement not a new requirement we hope that the expectations are clear, however if you have any questions please do contact your link Educational Psychologist.

Beth Armstrong
Beth Armstrong
Deputy Head of ISEND & Strategic Lead for Education, ISEND

Phone: 01273 482363