Let down by the sys­tem.... they must im­prove ser­vice

Sunday Sun - - News - BEN O’CON­NELL ben.ocon­[email protected]­plc.com

Chil­dren and young peo­ple with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs have been failed by the au­thor­i­ties, the damn­ing re­port re­veals Re­porter A LOST gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren and young peo­ple with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs and dis­abil­i­ties are be­ing let down by the sys­tem, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

Na­tional re­forms which came into force in 2014 placed a duty on town halls to lead on in­te­gra­tion ar­range­ments be­tween health ser­vices, so­cial­care pro­vi­sion and ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren and young peo­ple with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs and/or dis­abil­i­ties.

A joint in­spec­tion of Northum­ber­land’s pro­vi­sion by Of­sted and the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion, which took place in Oc­to­ber, “raised sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about the ef­fec­tive­ness of the lo­cal area”.

The re­port con­cludes that a writ­ten state­ment of ac­tion must be pro­duced and sub­mit­ted to Of­sted which ex­plains how the lo­cal area will tackle the fol­low­ing “ar­eas of sig­nif­i­cant weak­ness”:

•weak­nesses in the lo­cal area’s ar­range­ments for jointly plan­ning, com­mis­sion­ing and pro­vid­ing the ser­vices chil­dren and young peo­ple with SEND and their fam­i­lies need

•the grad­u­ated re­sponse to iden­ti­fy­ing, as­sess­ing and meeting the needs of chil­dren and young peo­ple with SEND is not em­bed­ded in main­stream pri­mary and se­condary schools, and

•the poor out­comes achieved by chil­dren and young peo­ple with SEND and weak­nesses in suc­cess­fully pre­par­ing them for their adult lives.

In­spec­tors said Northum­ber­land County Coun­cil and NHS Northum­ber­land Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group are “jointly re­spon­si­ble” for pro­vid­ing the writ­ten state­ment.

The main find­ings of the re­port in­clude that “fam­i­lies in Northum­ber- land have widely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences of the lo­cal area’s ar­range­ments for iden­ti­fy­ing, as­sess­ing and meeting their chil­dren’s needs”, while the chil­dren and young peo­ple do not do well enough in main­stream schools with too many also be­ing ex­cluded.

It adds that lead­ers “are not jointly plan­ning, com­mis­sion­ing and pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion, health and care ser­vices in a way which is im­prov­ing chil­dren and young peo­ple’s out­comes”.

How­ever, the re­port does say that “there has been a de­ter­mined drive to im­prove ar­range­ments” in the past year, with “con­fi­dence in lead­ers strength­en­ing and the pace of im­prove­ment in­creas­ing”.

Plus, “new lead­er­ship struc­tures and re­cently-de­vel­oped ac­tion plans pro­vide a more secure start­ing point for tack­ling the sig­nif­i­cant weak­nesses in these ar­range­ments”.

It adds that “front-line staff in ed­u­ca­tion, health and care ser­vices, and in schools, work hard and are mak­ing a val­ued dif­fer­ence to chil­dren and young peo­ple with SEND and their fam­i­lies”.

A joint state­ment on be­half of the county coun­cil, the CCG and Northum­bria Health­care NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, said: “We wel­come the find­ings of the Of­sted and CQC re­port which out­lines ar­eas of strength and good prac­tice within some ser­vices, as well as other ar­eas where there is still work to do, which we ac­knowl­edge.

“The in­spec­tor has high­lighted our de­ter­mined drive in re­cent months to im­prove ar­range­ments for meeting the needs of chil­dren and young peo­ple with SEND.

“The re­port high­lights grow­ing con­fi­dence in our ser­vices, and the pace of change and im­prove­ment.

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