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Inspection of services for children and young people with special educational needs published

10 May 2018

The outcome of a recent inspection of services across Cheshire East for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been published today.

The inspection letter, which followed a visit by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in March, came as a result of new government legislation, which requires local authorities and health partners to reform the way they support and identify children with SEND. 

During the week-long visit, government inspectors attended 60 focus groups, which included contributions from more than 200 staff and 130 parents and carers.

Inspectors noted that ‘there has been a significant improvement in the strategic leadership in the area’ and ‘frontline professionals are committed and resolute in their work for children, young people and their families’. They also recognised that ‘the energy and enthusiasm of leaders at a strategic level to improve provision is yet to impact on children, young people and their families’. 

Cheshire East is required to produce and submit a written statement of action to Ofsted to explain how it will tackle the following areas for improvement:

● The timeliness, process and quality of education, health and care plans; and

● The lack of an effective pathway for children and young people with autism and unreasonable waiting times. 

The inspection found that the area was also performing well in the following ways:

● Children and young people with SEND feel safe and they found no safeguarding practice concerns;

● Outcomes for children and young people are good and in many areas above the national average;

● Leaders know the local area strengths and areas for development; and

● Strong partnership working and governance structure in place.

Areas highlighted as requiring improvement were that there was a significant volume of parental feedback outlining poor experiences and satisfaction of the SEND system and that support and implementation of the government reforms from 2014 to 2016 was slow.

Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “The findings of the report were broadly as we were expecting and it is reassuring to know that we are very much on the right path and improving in the areas that still need our full attention.

“There is an ongoing programme of work, which now needs reprioritising to review our processes but it is very encouraging to know that the outcomes that we are delivering for so many of our young people with special educational needs are still very good.

“Most authorities have struggled with reaching government targets and we are certainly not complacent about where we need to improve. Cheshire East Council is committed to supporting our children and will use the inspection findings in our ongoing development work.

“We are striving to deliver better, more-focussed provision and this inspection has shown that we are on the right track. I am very grateful to all those dedicated professionals that deliver such outstanding work every day.”

Chris Jaydeokar co-chair of the Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum, said: “We were delighted that so many parents took part in the inspection and shared their personal stories, ensuring that the inspectors got to hear first hand what the families using these services experience. Using the expertise of families and carers is a vital part of shaping services for our children and young people.

“We want to support Cheshire East’s senior leaders to improve services, so that the impact is felt on the ground by everyone.  We hope that the culture of parents and professionals working together as equal partners for better outcomes for children becomes part of everyone’s daily life. 

“The goal of any inspection is to improve outcomes for our children and young people, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the local authority and health services to achieve this.  

“The inspection makes it clear that there are some good developments under way and we look forward to continuing to work together to make sure that our members’ families feel tangible benefits.”

This is the inspection letter