Children with special needs are being let down - report

February 01 2018

URGENT action is needed to improve the provision of services for children and young people in South Gloucestershire who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), inspectors say.

URGENT action is needed to improve the provision of services for children and young people in South Gloucestershire who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), inspectors say.

Council and NHS leaders have been given 70 days to come up with a Written Statement of action to tackle their “sognificant areas of weakness”.

This follows a joint inspection in November by Ofsted and the Cre Quality Commission.

Their report, published in late December, found some strengths but said that “a lack of strategic direction, frequent staff changes and changes to the roles and responsibilities of senior leaders” meant there was a lack of capacity to deliber improvements.

In a letter to parents of children with SEND, the council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We do appreciate that the majority of positives highlighted in the report aren’t yet visible to families and how difficult this must feel, but we hope you’ll begin to see the impact of those changes once they’re implemented soon.”

Councillor Jon Hunt, Cabinet Member responsible for Children and Young People, said: “We fully accept the overall findings of the report, which highlights many strengths to build on and recognises the progress made in improving services and outcomes for children and young people with SEND, particularly in recent months. 

“To better meet the needs of these children, we set up an Improvement Board to drive positive change because we recognised from an early stage that more needed to be done to plan and deliver high-quality services.

“By investing around £845,000 in the 0 to 25 service, the council has been able to take on new staff and set up a transitions team. “The process for getting Education, Health and Care Plans in place has been drastically improved as the 20 week statutory process for completing these plans is being met. We are already working closely with our NHS partners and education settings to bring about rapid improvements to the outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families.

"We are running a consultation on the revised SEND strategy so that parents and carers can have their say on this important area of work which will help shape the way services are provided by the council and our partners in the health service.”

Anne Morris, of the CCG,  said: “The report highlights the strengths of the current system and documents areas of improvement, whilst recognising areas of concern and the need for improvement in others.  

“The CCG has already taken action in many of these areas including targeting waiting times in key therapeutic services, and investment in a waiting list initiative to reduce waiting times for assessment of children who may have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). “Services for young people with special educational needs and disabilities are among our top priorities. We look forward to working with our partners in South Gloucestershire Council and community health providers to implement our agreed service development and improvement plan, improve South Gloucestershire SEND services and provide the highest quality care for children and their families.”