Friday 12 April 2024
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Action plan to drive improvements after Nottinghamshire SEND failings revealed

An action plan is in development after widespread failings within Nottinghamshire’s special needs education services were revealed.

An inspection of services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) found some children with complex needs are waiting as long as 37 weeks for vital assessments.

Nottinghamshire County Council and NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) are responsible for the service.

The failings were uncovered in an unannounced visit by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over three days from the end of January to the start of February this year.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet will discuss the report at its meeting on May 25.

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The County Council and the ICB are now required to develop a “priority action plan” outlining how it will achieve the improvements.

The plan must be submitted to Ofsted and the Care Quality
Commission within 35 working days of receiving the inspection report.

The plan must also be published within 70 working days.

The Nottinghamshire SEND Partnership Improvement Board has also been established to oversee the improvement actions, which will be chaired independently by Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children.

Speaking after the report was published, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and Mansfield MP Ben Bradley said it was “obviously really disappointing”.

He said: “It speaks to both a number of national challenges in terms of waiting lists [for EHCPs] and a lack of staffing.

“But also there are a number of things in that report that we need to do better and we need to hold our hands up to that.

“We can’t just fob it off on national problems and we’ve apologised to those people who have had a bad experience.

“We’re going to improve and we’ve started with that already, we’ve hired Dame Christine Lenehan who is massively well-respected nationally in the SEND space to help us with this journey.

“The good thing, I think, that comes out of this is we could have scraped a better grading from Ofsted, moved on and not looked at this again.

“What this means is there’ll be a real focus on improvement in this space, which will hopefully be good news for the outcomes of those children.”

The inspection found children and young people are waiting too long to receive specialist educational health care assessments (EHCs) and specialist help such as speech and language therapy.

Documents published ahead of the Cabinet meeting stated: “In Nottinghamshire, the inspection concluded that there are two priority areas for action, meaning a judgement of widespread and/or systemic failings leading to significant concerns about the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND, which the local area partnership must address urgently.

“The local area partnership is committed to improving the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND and this commitment is recognised within the inspection report.

“Leaders recognise that there are improvements that urgently need to be
made and have therefore begun to develop a strengthened approach to achieving this.”

Following the publication of the damning report, the Labour group at County Hall said the Conservative cabinet should take responsibility for the findings and that the Conservative cabinet member for Children and Young People, Tracey Taylor, should stand down.

But Cllr Taylor said the council was “well under way” with making improvements under the guidance of a new improvement board.

And responding to opposition calls for Cllr Tracey Taylor’s resignation, Mr Bradley added: “It’s a shame if this becomes a political back and forth and it’s really important that we improve.

“Nobody understands this space within the council more so than Cllr Taylor so it would seem daft for that to happen [for her to resign].”

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