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SEND inspection revisit

Much more work still needs to be done if children and young people in Suffolk with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are to receive the quality of support they deserve. 

Suffolk County Council (SCC) and the area’s three NHS clinical commissioning groups fully acknowledge today’s findings by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). 

Inspectors from the two organisations returned to Suffolk in January to see how SEND services had progressed since their inspection in December 2016.

Following that visit, inspectors ruled Suffolk was not effectively meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND. Today (Mon), inspectors have acknowledged that some improvements have been made, but say children and young people relying on SEND services have not yet felt the benefit.

They concluded that sufficient progress had been made regarding governance and leadership of the strategic planning and delivery of the 2014 national SEND reforms.

However, the inspectors ruled that insufficient progress had been made in the three other areas requiring improvement.

These were:
  • the poor timeliness, integration and quality of SEND statutory assessments and plans and the delivery of subsequent individual packages of support
  • the lack of understanding among parents and carers of the support available and the inadequate quality of the local offer, including access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), and
  • the lack of joint working to monitor, quality assure and maximise the effectiveness of work undertaken to improve outcomes for children 

Councillor Gordon Jones, SCC’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, said: “The report highlights that there are still major improvements to be made and that we must increase the pace of change.

“The findings of the inspection steer us to how we need to do more to ensure that all Suffolk’s children and young people benefit from a more joined up and consistent system of support that is clearly communicated to them.

“Many of Suffolk’s services are working well to support the county’s children and young people with SEND, but much more needs to be done to ensure they are able to achieve their full potential regardless of the challenges they may face.”

Cllr Jones pointed out that major investment had recently been made in SEND services by the local authority and its NHS partners.This has included more than £1m in funding for speech and language therapy and the creation of over 400 new specialist placements in our existing special schools and units since the last inspection. Additionally, the local authority has made a commitment to create further new local placements from 2020 onwards, including three new special schools and new specialist units across the county.

Although inspectors found insufficient progress had been made in three of the four key SEND areas, they did acknowledge a number of areas of improvement, including:
  • SEND leaders forming strong partnerships with local services and SPCN
  • A better understanding of the lived experiences of parents, carers, children and young people
  • professionals who had previously worked in isolation now working with partners to design, plan and deliver services
  • stronger oversight of school performance
  • a reduction in school exclusions
  • the provision of more specialist school placements, and
  • improved access to speech and language therapy
Dr Ed Garratt, Chief Officer of the NHS Ipswich & East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, said the latest report made for “a difficult read” but was pleased the inspectors had noted where progress had been made.

He said: “An enormous amount of work has taken place across our organisations since the original inspection in 2016.

“It was pleasing the inspectors noted that there has been progress, particularly in how the system is working together and how co-production is well established and effective.

“However, I’m under no illusion that we still have a way to go before we can be satisfied that children and young people with SEND are receiving the services they deserve.

“None of us will be satisfied until their parents and carers start telling us the changes we’ve introduced have made a real difference to their children’s lives.”

Melanie Craig, Chief Officer of the NHS Great Yarmouth & Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We acknowledge the findings of the revisit and believe the letter is a fair reflection of the progress made to date and the work still to be done to improve services and outcomes for children, young people and their families.

“I’m pleased the inspectors have acknowledged that we have put systems in place to enable real improvements.

“There is clearly more work to be done but we are committed to working with partners to ensure that children and young people are supported in order to meet their potential.”

Anne Humphrys, Co-Chair of the Suffolk Parent Carer Network, said: "Whilst we have been involved in an enormous amount of work since the inspection, this report confirms what we already knew, that is the work has not yet been felt by families as some of the big changes have not yet started. 

"There has not been sufficient priority given to changes which would immediately make a difference to families. 

"This means it is often the case that children, young people and families are still unable to access the services and support that they need and the system continues to make things harder than they need to be, resulting in families being driven to crisis point."

To read the full report click HERE


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