LEADERS, with a ‘genuine desire’ to work with families, have a ‘firm grasp’ of what is needed to support young people with special educational needs.
This is one of many areas of praise for members of North East Lincolnshire Council’s SEND (special educational needs) team, following a March revisit by Government inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission. The team is a part of the authority’s Children’s Services offer.
And, whilst there is still work to do, the service has been told there is no cause for concern in three specific areas of work, identified as having ‘significant weaknesses’ during a full inspection in 2018. As a result, Her Majesty’s Inspector Steve Shaw has said formal intervention by the DfE and NHS England will now stop.
Council Leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, joined parents and workers in congratulating the whole of SEND for the huge shift in work practices and the determination to change.
“This is a time for me to thank everyone who has played a part in the re-invention of this service,” said Cllr Jackson.
“It shows the creativity, innovation, and determination that we have and our ability to accept criticism, look at ourselves and act. There is still hard work to do but we know we are heading in the right direction. With our support children and adults can go on to enjoy positive and fulfilling lives and make a truly positive contribution to our communities. This is what we want,” he added.
Councillor Margaret Cracknell, newly appointed portfolio holder for children and education, said: “I’m really pleased with our collective response to the written statement of action.
“Staff have taken on board the feedback from Ofsted and the CQC and really worked hard to turn these services around.
“We’re now in a position where parents and young people with SEND are actively working with us to design services to support them. That is wonderful and I’m really grateful to officers and partners for getting us to this point.”
Mark Webb, Chair of North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I’m really pleased with the work that has gone into services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in our area over the last few years.
“Despite the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, colleagues in these services have persevered and committed themselves to building services around their users, listening to the views of parents and young people and making changes based on that feedback.
“Of course there is more to do, but I’d like to say well done and thank you to all those involved in the services in our area, and to the parents and young people who have given feedback and worked with our services to help them improve.”
The three areas for action and the improvement highlights:
The 2018 inspection report said: Local area leaders have a limited understanding of the needs of children and young people who have SEN and/or disabilities and the education, health and care outcomes they achieve. This fundamentally weakens the local area’s ability to jointly plan, commission and provide the right services, resources and support for this group of children and young people and their families.
The 2022 revisit found:
- Significant change in senior leadership who now have a firm grasp of the scale of the challenge. They have ensured that plans for improvement are coherent and are coordinated across education, health and social care. They have an accurate understanding of the progress they have made to date and an equally accurate understanding of the work still to be done.
- Good work with partners, the key appointment of a SEND Commissioner, improvements in school provision, health work improvement, and staff positivity were also noted.
The 2018 inspection report said: The local area’s strategy for improving arrangements for identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of children and young people who have SEN and/or disabilities, and improving their outcomes, is ineffective.
The 2022 revisit found:
- Leaders know there is more to do but they have a more effective strategy for improving outcomes and a greater understanding of what their SEND data is telling them. They have also changed certain areas of the service, to help where staff recruitment is hard;
- There are good examples of a collective approach to work, including Youth and Justice’ and ‘Autism in Schools’ projects;
- In the best examples, the voice of the child comes through clearly;
- Some parents and carers believe that there has been a stark improvement in SEND provision since the 2018 inspection.
The 2018 inspection report said: Children, young people and families have too little involvement in meaningfully co-producing the education, health and care services they need.
The 2022 revisit found:
- Leaders are genuine in their desire to engage with children, young people and their families and know this is a work in progress;
- They have sought to engage in meaningful and effective co-production (a way of working where children and young people, families and those that provide services work together to make a decision or create a service which works for them all);
- They have introduced a variety of methods to capture the voice of children and young people and parents and carers, so that increased numbers of voices are heard.
What the SEND parents, carers and staff say:
Rebecca Taylor, Head of SEND and Inclusion, Children’s Services, North East Lincolnshire Council: “I think a real strength and improvement since 2018, is that the leadership at all levels in the Local Authority know about SEND and talk about it regularly. Compared to 2018, it now features as a standing item at Children’s leadership, Council leadership and scrutiny panel. SEND sufficiency has a place within school planning. The Local Authority knows itself when it comes to provision and support for children with SEND and their families. Whilst there is acknowledgement that we haven’t implemented all our plans for sufficiency and support yet, they clearly outline our intentions aligned to the level and type of needs identified across the borough.”
A parent carer in North East Lincolnshire: ” Although it’s clear much is still to be done, major improvements in things like the local offer, parent partnership and the willingness to listen and build on these improvements is evident.”
Clare Linfitt, SEND Services Manager, North East Lincolnshire Council: “Parents and carers of children and young people with SEND have really got involved with our weekly SEND meetings, SEND newsletter, coffee mornings and pop up events. When we are working together, we are able to listen, understand and make improvements. Our SEND Young People’s Advisory Group, which meets monthly, has done a great job of planning and organising our annual SEND awards event which will take place on July 7 at the Town Hall Grimsby. This will be the perfect opportunity to celebrate SEND achievements in our local area.”