Ofsted and CQC inspection of SEND services welcomed

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Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have concluded that there are “inconsistent experiences and outcomes for children and young people with SEND” (special educational needs and/or disabilities) in Cornwall following an inspection of services.

The Government watchdogs commended Cornwall partners for their work supporting Early Years and Post-16 children and young people with SEND.

They also highlighted that more could be done to improve the experiences of school-age children with SEND and to let them and their families know about services on offer.

Inspectors visited Cornwall in February to examine SEND services and have now published their findings. The report is available to read here.

Cornwall’s SEND inspection was only the second nationally to be carried out under a new framework, which see reports given one of three possible ‘inspection outcomes’.

The Cornwall Local Area Partnership obtained the middle outcome on the scale.

Partnership leaders have welcomed the findings of the report and pledged to build on the many positive outcomes already being achieved for young people with SEND and their families.

Cornwall Council and the ICB are responsible for commissioning and planning services for children and young people with SEND. This includes community health, education and social care.

Key findings of the inspection report include:

  • Children and young people with SEND in early years provision, and those moving into adulthood (post-16), “generally have positive experiences and successful outcomes”. 
  • Younger children and their families have a “positive experience of the early years support and guidance available to them”, thanks to an effective multi-agency approach.
  • The majority of young adults benefit from “effective support which prepares them well to gain from adult education and health services”.
  • Children and young people with SEND are “supported well by health services in Cornwall”. Waiting times have been reduced although some, for example for neuro-development assessments, remain long.
  • Young people with SEND receive “appropriate assessment of their needs, aspirations and capacity before and into adulthood to ensure they receive the right support to promote their welfare”.
  • Children and young people with SEND and their families are engaged in improving services and support, with the help of Parent Carers Cornwall (PCC). “Leaders have developed roles for children and young people to be advocates and mentors for other children and young people with SEND to ensure their voices are heard”.
  • Multi-disciplinary teams, which include health, social care, police and education, “work effectively to address the diverse needs of children and young people with SEND within smaller areas of Cornwall”.
  • The experiences of school-age children with SEND can be inconsistent. This is “often due to the lack of clear information about the availability of services and how children and young people can access them”.
  • Planning for children with more complex needs is not consistent and there is a shortage of specialist education places (locally and nationally).

Cornwall’s inspection outcome states: “The local area partnership’s arrangements lead to inconsistent experiences and outcomes for children and young people with SEND. The local area partnership must work jointly to make improvements”.

Kay Henry, Strategic Lead at Parent Carers Cornwall, said: “As the nationally recognised parent carer forum for Cornwall, we felt children, young people and parents were listened to during the inspection.

“There have been inconsistent experiences for school age children and young people in Cornwall, we are pleased this has been recognised throughout the inspection. We welcome the recommendations that have been put in place from Ofsted and CQC and are aware following the inspection, work to improve areas has already started to progress.

“We valued the inspection highlighted the partnership working between services, statutory and voluntary”.

Kate Evan-Hughes, Service Director for Education and Community Health at Cornwall Council, said: “I am pleased that the inspectors recognised the strong partnership working that goes on in Cornwall to ensure young people with SEND and their families receive the support they deserve. 

“We recognise that there is always more that can be done to ensure the quality of service is consistent across all areas and ages and we are already working together with our partners and school leaders to address the ‘areas for improvement’ identified in the report. 

“The improvement plan will be overseen by the ‘One Vision’ board, and we look forward to updating SEND children and families on our progress in the near future”.

Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Learning and Skills, said: “It is one of the Council’s priorities to make sure Cornwall is a brilliant place to be a child and grow up, so it is vital that all young people with SEND and their families have access to the best services, support, healthcare and education.

“It is good to see that Ofsted and the CQC recognised the strong leadership and collaborative working across our partnership here in Cornwall, and the positive experiences and outcomes for many of our young people.

“We are already working hard to address any inconsistencies in our offer, and I am confident that the experiences of all children and young people with SEND in Cornwall will continue to improve going forward.

“I would like to thank everyone who participated in the inspection and all our partners who work tirelessly to improve the lives of children and families in Cornwall”.

Kate Shields, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care System, said: “We welcome the findings of this inspection, which recognises the positive changes colleagues across our multi-agency partnership have made to improve access to services for children and young people with additional needs and disabilities.

“We know there is more work to be done, and we are committed to working closely with our families to ensure they are listened to and that we continue to improve and deliver the best possible outcomes for our children and young people”.

The inspection report is also available to read on the SEND pages of the Council’s website. The next full area SEND inspection will be within three years.

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