What are COMs?
COM stands for Collaborative Outcomes Meeting. These meetings are part of the Education, Health and Care needs assessment (EHC needs assessment) process. The meetings enable families, schools and settings, and other professionals supporting a child or young person to work together to ensure the best outcomes possible.
Ysanne and Catherine explain during October 2022’s Local Offer Live sessions the new Collaborative Outcomes Meetings, or COMs, and how they fit into the Education, Health and Care needs assessment process, and what families should expect when they take part in one. This session also shares insight into the rationale behind why COMs are used, and detail the purpose of a ‘COMs SEN Support Meeting’, which takes place following a decision not to issue an EHCP.
The Statutory Needs Assessment Process
The flow chart below briefly sets out the statutory needs assessment process with information about COMs to help you prepare.
An Education, Health and Care needs assessment is requested
- Within 6 weeks, a multiagency panel decides whether to carry out an assessment
- An Assessment and Reviewing Officer (ARO) will discuss the decision with the parent or carer
- Within 12 weeks, information about a child or young person’s strengths and needs is gathered
- Parent, carers, schools and settings will be asked to provide information
- Other professionals (such as an Educational Psychologists) will contact parent carers and may carry out assessments and/or observations of the child or young person to better understand their strengths and needs. Parent carers will receive written reports from professionals who have made contact.
- The ARO will contact parent carers, schools, settings and other professionals to arrange a date for the Collaborative Outcome Meeting (COM)
Decision process for whether an Education, Health and Care plan will be issued
- Between 12 to 14 weeks, a multiagency panel will review the information gathered and decide whether to issue an EHC plan. This decision will be discussed with parent carers.
- The ARO will remind everyone of the COM date and will send out information including the Collaborative Outcomes Meeting Proforma.
- The COM will happen whether an EHC plan is issued or not. This will help everyone understand the next steps and what needs to be in place for the child or young person to be successful.
- If Yes to Issue an EHC plan, it will be a COMs EHC Plan Meeting
- If No to Issue an EHC plan, it will be a COMs SEN Support Meeting
- COMs SEN support – The EHC needs assessment indicates the child or young persons additional needs can be met from provision that is ordinarily available at school. Somerset’s Graduated Response Tool
Preparing for the Collaborative Outcomes Meeting
- The ‘COM Preparation’ tool below has some questions to support preparation. Any notes made on this document are a reminder of information to share at the meeting. They will not be seen by anyone else.
- Most COMs are held virtually. Please make sure you are somewhere private with a connection where your camera and sound can be on during the meeting.
- The meeting will last about one and half hours. Please make sure you make arrangements to be present for the whole meeting unless agreed with the ARO before the meeting.
The Collaborative Outcomes Meeting
- Within 16 weeks a Collaborative Outcomes Meeting (COM) is held.
- The meeting will last about one and a half hours.
- The Educational Psychologist will chair the meeting and the ARO will take notes to make sure the provision discussed is clear, specific, and legally compliant. The ‘Collaborative Outcome Meeting Proforma’ below shows what will be completed and agreed during the COM.
- The meeting will focus on agreeing outcomes and provision and support for the child or young persons needs.
- Outcomes and provision will be discussed in the four areas of development defined by the Code of Practice (2014). You can find more information on pages 7 to 8, Appendix 2 of the Collaborative Outcomes Meeting Proforma below.
- Everyone attending the meeting will have the opportunity to take part in discussions and ask questions.
- A record of the COM will be sent to everyone invited to the meeting.
- If an EHC plan was agreed, this will be in the form of a draft EHC plan.
- If an EHC plan was not agreed, the minutes from the COMs SEN support will be shared.
- If you have any questions, comments, or anything else to add after the COM, you should contact the ARO to discuss these.
- Within 20 weeks, if an EHC plan was agreed, decisions will be made about school placement and what this looks like. You can find more information on how this happens and the decision making processes on these pages:
Collaborative Outcomes Meetings Acronyms
A list of Acronyms used at Collaborative Outcomes Meetings
|Assessment and Reviewing Officer (ARO)||An ARO will coordinate the statutory needs assessment process and book the COM. They ensure legal statutory timeframes are met. The ARO will attend the COM and keep a record of what is discussed in the meeting.|
|Educational Psychologist (EP)||Educational Psychologist – an EP will work with your child as part of the statutory needs assessment process. They will often observe and/or work with a child/young person them to complete some assessments to understand their strengths and identify any special educational needs. They will lead the COM and ensure everyone has a chance to share their thoughts and feelings.|
|Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities Coordinator(SENCO/ SENDCO)||The SENCO is the person in school who has responsibility for coordinating support for any pupils with Special Educational Needs. They promote inclusion within schools and liaise with external professionals as needed. Sometimes they are called SENDCO – Special Educational Needs and/or Disability Coordinator. They will be at the COMs to share the views and thoughts on behalf of the educational setting.|
|Education Health and Care needs assessment (EHC needs assessment)||An EHC needs assessment is the start of the process to see whether an EHC plan is required. Many different many different assessments and pieces of evidence are analysed to identify if the needs impact on a child or young person’s ability to access education in a way that cannot be supported through the setting’s own SEN support.Find out more on Somerset’s SEND Local Offer https://beta.somerset.gov.uk/education-health-and-care-plans/|
|Education Health and Care plan(EHC plan)||A statutory document which outlines strengths, areas of need, outcomes, and provision needed for a child/young person. This is a legal document and should be reviewed annually by the child/young person and the team supporting them.Find out more on Somerset’s SEND Local Offer https://beta.somerset.gov.uk/education-health-and-care-plans/|
|Collaborative Outcomes Meeting (COM)||The Collaborative Outcomes Meeting is part of the statutory needs assessment process and aims to bring together the family and child/young person with any professionals involved, to work together to agree the support needed (provisions) and goals (outcomes) for the child/young person. Everyone in the meeting has a unique perspective and will be able to share their views and expertise to provide a personalised plan to support.|
|Strengths and Needs||These will outline a child/young person’s strengths (things they enjoy/can do well) and needs (things they find difficult). The needs identified will inform the outcomes and provision. They are divided into four areas:|
|Outcomes||Outcomes are statements which explain the short- and long-term goals to promote a child/young person’s progress towards their aspirations. Outcomes will be specific and measurable. These will be reviewed each year and adapted as needed. Part of the COMs discussion will be focused on agreeing which outcomes are most important.|
At the COMs, support and strategies that will be needed to help a child/young person achieve their outcomes is agreed.You may hear the following terms used when talking about provision:|