POET for children's services

We are committed to providing further evidence of the impact that greater choice and control can have. With funding from the Department for Education (DfE), we have developed a new tool for use in children's services. This tool - the Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET) - provides us with a much needed national benchmark of the impact the new Education Health and Care Plans and personal budgets have on the lives of children, young people and families

This builds upon the work we have already done with the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University focused on adult services, as well as work with the Department of Health on personal health budgets.

Asking meaningful questions about what is and isn't working, the POET is unique in capturing the views of practitioners, parents/carers and young people on the process of getting an Education Health and Care Plan (and using a personal budget) and the impact it has had on their lives. Developed with children and young people, parents/carers and practitioners from across the country, it has now been tested by over 70 local authorities and their partners.

Three national reports have been produced, the most recent - and the biggest to date - published in spring 2016. The reports can be downloaded using the links at the bottom of this page.

Our commitment

In children's services our commitment is to provide;

  • One authoritative, nationally recognised method to understand the experiences of families and children and young people of the process and impact on day-to-day life of having an Education Health and Care Plan.
  • An outcome-focused approach where performance is measured by reported experience of children and young people who have personal budgets and an Education Health and Care Plan and their families.
  • An easy to use tool that encourages local authorities to report and share feedback and to benchmark themselves against national evidence.
  • A tool that encourages young people to be involved and, as they grow older, to increasingly take responsibility for reporting on their own experiences.
  • Low transaction costs - data capture will be embedded into local authority processes and open to local community organisations.

DfE's 'SEN and disability: supporting local and national accountability, March 2015' outlines the Department's intent that there should be a combination of local accountability measures, data analysis and independent inspection to show how the SEND system is performing, which parts are working well and less well and whether outcomes are improving for children and young people. POET is suggested as one of the ways in which such data and intelligence might be collected.

2015/2016 POET: Biggest survey of views on new Education Health and Care Plans published

In 2015, the DfE awarded In Control further grant funding to: develop and improve the children and young people's element of POET and to support at least 50 local authorities and their partners to test POET further. We again collaborated with the University of Lancaster on this project.

70 sites volunteered to participate in the round of testing between September and the end of December 2015. The volunteer local authorities were:

  • London: Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith, Havering, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Redbridge, Southwark, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Westminster.
  • East: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Peterborough and Suffolk.
  • South East: East Sussex, Hampshire, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.
  • South West: Bournemouth, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Swindon and Torbay.
  • Yorkshire & Humber: Bradford, Calderdale, Doncaster, East Riding, North Yorkshire, Rotherham, Sheffield, City of York and Wakefield.
  • North East: Durham and Gateshead.
  • East Midlands: Derby, Derbyshire, Leicester City, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire.
  • West Midlands: Birmingham, Coventry, Herefordshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent, Telford & Wrekin, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.
  • North West: Blackpool, Bury, Cheshire West & Chester, Halton, Liverpool, Salford and Wigan.

These sites also had the opportunity to comment on the questionnaires themselves and to work with us to further refine them.

Overall, we received 2,989 responses from practitioners working to implement EHCPs, 1,879 responses from parents/carers and 906 from children and young people who have experience of EHCPs. Sharing their views on EHCPs, and in some cases personal budgets, one year after the Children and Families Act was enacted, this has provided us with an incredibly valuable benchmark locally, regionally and nationally moving forward.

  • Respondents to the survey report positive experiences of the process with practitioners, parents and children/young people citing improved partnership working and that both parents and children's/young people's voices were being heard. This is good news and is a key aim of the SEND reforms.
  • Parents are also generally positive about the quality of support provided but the report does flag concerns. Parents are less happy about the amount of support they received and less than half the respondents were happy with the choice they have - another key aim of the SEND reforms.
  • Parental response on outcomes also flags concern - with limited impact beyond educational outcomes and both outcomes for the future and engaging in the community highlighted as weaknesses. Whilst it is too early to draw firm conclusions, this does suggest the education focus of the EHC process is dominant and possibly limiting the ambitions for truly holistic plans that prepare young people for adulthood, as envisaged in the Code of Practice.

The tool also provides unique local data that can be used to further improve services for children and young people and help local areas respond to the requirements in the SEN and Disability Code of Practice, the DfE Accountability Framework and Ofsted/CQC's inspection framework for SEN and Disability.

The 3rd national POET report for children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans can be downloaded here or by using the link at the bottom of this page. Subject to achieving sufficient returns, participating sites have also been provided with benchmarking data to support them to review and action plan.

POET for 2018/19 POET

Following the introduction of aliging the POET to the academic year in 2017, we will be continuing with the same format again for 2018/19 so the POET will:

  • Be aligned with the academic year - with the survey period running from September 2018 to July 2019. (Local areas can access their data at any point during this period to support self-improvement and In Control will provide termly summaries and a full annual report next summer.)
  • Include a pilot tool to capture views on support and outcomes for children and young people with SEN and/or disabilities that do not have an EHC plan (i.e. those on school support).
  • Work with a small number of local areas to establish ways of embedding the POET in local authority systems.
  • Be available to all local areas.*

As part of our continual review and improvement we held workshops in July, and as a result the POET is being ammended to allow for more local flexilbity so will form a core set of outcome questions and then supllimentary questions selected to meet the local authorities paticular needs. These new surveys will be available from September 2018.

* The POET will be included within the package of bespoke support provided to local areas who participate in In Control's Community of Change membership programme. Please contact for further information.

We are also seeking expressions of interest from community of change members who wish to embed the POET into their everyday systems, you can find our more about embedding POET here.

Why use the POET…

POET is:

  • Co-developed.
  • Tested over a period of three years - over 70+ local authorities in the last year.
  • Providing national and regional data.
  • Supporting local areas to respond to the requirements in the SEND COP; OFSTED framework, DfE Accountability Framework.
  • Owned by local areas.
  • Supported and challenged by SQW.


  • It is low cost.
  • Quick and easy to complete online or on paper.
  • Able to be repeated.
  • Asks meaningful questions about what's working (and what isn't working).
  • Voluntary.
  • Gets views of children & young people, families and carers and practitioners.
  • Provides feedback.
  • Supports action planning.

Find out more

If you are interested in finding out more about the tool and its use in children's services, or would like to see an example of the surveys, then please get in touch with us at

This short animation explains the POET and the process for giving feedback about Education Health and Care Plans:  Introduction to the POET for Education, Health and Care Plans

A small national steering group oversaw the development of POET. Further information about its terms of reference and membership can be found here.

Last Updated : 26 July 2018. Page Author: Gaynor Cockayne.