A report issued today from the Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission on SEND services in Warwickshire has been published highlighting several aspects of good practice alongside areas for improvement.
Inspectors visited Warwickshire between the 12 and 16 July 2021. As part of the inspection the team spoke with children and young people with SEND, parents and carers, health, key partners and local authority officers. They also visited a range of providers and spoke to leaders, staff and governors about how they were implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.
Whilst several areas were commended, including the commitment of area leaders to improve the outcomes of children and young people with SEND, the report also highlighted weaknesses that the local area needs to address, particularly waiting times for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessments and the quality of the online local offer. The report also notes that more work needs to be done with parents and carers, and schools need to access more staff training to help them understand and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND.
The report confirmed that current area leaders have the expertise, drive, determination, and commitment to improving health, education and care outcomes for all children and young people with SEND. There was also clear acknowledgement of the work already underway to implement an ambitious Change Programme in response to the outcomes of the reviews.
The main findings of the report are:
· Children and young people with SEND achieve positive educational outcomes. A high proportion of them remain in education, training and employment and a high proportion also go on to achieve paid employment. Attendance rates for children and young people with SEND are very positive, and fixed term exclusions have reduced dramatically.
· Area leaders understand the strengths and weaknesses of the area because of their accurate, well-informed and detailed self-evaluation. They commissioned two independent reviews of all SEND services to help them identify what works well and what does not across the local area. Leaders have developed and started to implement an ambitious Change Programme in response to the findings of the reviews.
· The Change Programme identifies what needs to change and why. It has prioritised and focused on key areas, with further actions appropriately planned out in the right order. This is enabling area leaders to drive the necessary improvements across the local area. However, some plans are still developing, such as those to improve neurodevelopmental pathways.
· Current area leaders know that the area was slow to implement the 2014 reforms in full. Previous leadership groups had not worked closely enough together. Weaknesses in the past have led to poor outcomes for some children and young people, particularly those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Leaders are determined to address the weaknesses across the area and have started to do so.
To address the issues raised in the report and continue to build on the SEND Change and Inclusion Programme, a written statement of action will now be co-produced with education, health, social care and Warwickshire Parent Carer Voice to demonstrate how all partners will work together to improve services for children and young people in Warwickshire.
Talking about the inspection report, Councillor Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Education and Children’s Services said:
“As a local area, we are determined and focused to implement our plans to meet the needs of all children and young people with SEND. I am pleased that the inspectors have recognised the commitment of the leadership in Warwickshire and have confirmed that we have the right plan in place with the Send and Inclusion Change Programme. However, we recognise that there is more work to be done and we know there are several areas where we need to do better and improve the services, we provide.
“As with many places in the country, we have been asked to produce a written statement of action to outline how those improvements will be made. The statement will be drafted in the next few weeks with input from our colleagues in education, health, social care, Warwickshire Parent Carer Voice and other key stakeholders. Our action plan will be robust, and we will work with rigour and pace to ensure changes are made to help us to improve and enhance the SEND offer in Warwickshire.
"SEND is a key priority and the work we have done as part of our SEND and Inclusion Change Programme has been acknowledged as the right plan addressing the key issues to ensure changes are made. Our ambitious plans to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND including building a new school and resource provisions, providing clear pathways of support, reforming our decision-making panels and ensuring our systems are sustainable into the future will help us to make a real change to the way in which support children and young people with SEND in Warwickshire.”
Dr Sarah Raistrick, local GP and Chair of Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group said
“Ensuring that all children and young people in Coventry and Warwickshire with SEND are able to access the support that they need is a priority for the CCG. This report recognises that we are not where we need to be as a system, but that we have the plans in place which will help us to deliver better care, whether it is to provide additional support for those waiting for a diagnosis or those receiving support already. We are committed to working in partnership with Warwickshire County Council to implement these plans and to make sure that we improve things for our local children, young people and their families.”
Changes are already underway in Warwickshire to help to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND. This includes the SEND and Inclusion Change Programme; a three-year programme that aims to ensure that every young person with SEND has the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. In addition, the Child Friendly Warwickshire programme was given the green light by Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet in March 2021 and forms part of a wider £12 million programme of change in the way the Children’s and Families Services work in the county.