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New report praises ‘determination’ to support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities but says more work to be done

Published: Tuesday, 26th March 2024

New report praises ‘determination’ to support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities but says more work to be done

City and NHS leaders have welcomed findings from a SEND area inspection led by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which has highlighted that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are valued in the city and that ‘there is a city-wide determination that they will get the support they need to thrive.’

The inspection covered the local area arrangements for children and young people with SEND and those who require alternative provision (AP). The services, run jointly by the city council and the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care Board (ICB), were inspected under the new area SEND and AP inspection framework.

The city council welcomes the new framework which focuses on the voice of children and young people with SEND, and their families, to allow inspectors to better understand what it’s like the be a child or young person with SEND in the area. This is in stark contrast to the previous framework which looked at how local authorities met their responsibilities in the SEND code of practice. It means the voices of young people are included in this official report for the very first time, ensuring that raw feedback is a key part of how the inspection is presented.

Feedback from the inspection forms a key part of the city council’s aim to ensure every child or young person with SEND can be the best they can be and gets the right support at the right time. It also links with the city council’s commitment to ensuring that families in Stoke-on-Trent have the best support on offer to ensure that fewer children in our city end up in care.

Charlotte Bennett from the Parent Carer Forum said: “Stoke Parent Carers Champions for Change were pleased to work closely with the inspectors, enabling them to meet with and listen to the experiences of local families through a five themed focus groups and we would like to thank the parents who shared their stories to help inform this important inspection.”

Ofsted highlighted five key areas for improvement which will be assessed by the city council and the ICB before a refreshed improvement plan is published:

 

•                  The local partnership should further improve the timeliness of the identification, assessment, and implementation of support to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND.

 

•                  The local partnership should continue to work to improve the visibility and engagement of children and young people with SEND within their communities while in education and their broader life experiences.

 

•                  The local partnership should continue to work to develop the timeliness and quality of EHC plans so they always accurately identify needs and clearly articulate the provision needed for the child and young person.

 

•                  The local partnership should continue to develop its systems and processes to ensure that the voice of children and young people with SEND is heard and acted upon at an individual and strategic level.

 

•                  The local partnership should continue to improve the oversight of children and young people attending and quality assurance of alternative provisions and out-of-county placements, including residential settings.

Councillor Sarah Hill, cabinet member for children’s services said: “We are committed to making sure that children and young people with SEND in Stoke-on-Trent get the right support, at the right time, delivered by the right people. That’s why we are currently consulting on our new SEND strategy, which will ensure that there is a clear, agreed vision across the city.

“I welcome the findings of the Ofsted inspection and we will take on board all of the areas for improvement and make sure that the right processes, support and provision is put in place to make sure that the good work we are doing in the city is benefitting all children and young people with SEND.

“If any family in the city finds that the support they need is not easily accessible, that is too many. The local area partnership of the city council and the ICB will keep working to further improve services until our vision for children and young people with SEND to ‘be the best they can be’ is fully realised.”

Peter Axon, Chief Executive Officer, for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care Board commented: “The Integrated Care Board’s vision for our Children and Young People is to start well, grow well and live well. The report highlighted areas of work we are committed to improving, alongside our children, young people and their families, and our wider system partners. We recognise that are some areas of excellent practice that we will continue to build upon.”

Residents can have their say on the updated SEND strategy at www.stoke.gov.uk/SENDstrategy The consultation is open until Friday 5 April. Feedback from the engagement will be considered and reflected in the final version of the SEND Strategy which will be published in 2024.

Support and advice on SEND is available on our Local Offer website at https://localoffer.stoke.gov.uk/