Parents of children with special needs and disabilities "let down"

Ofsted and Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) inspection of Special Education Needs and/or Disability (SEND) services in the Bristol area has found failings especially in waiting times for families.
failing in SEND inspection

 

One key area where people have been let down is the waiting time for Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs). The city council has addressed the staff shortages that have caused this by recruiting 24 new staff to work specifically on EHCPs.

The report also highlights areas for improvement and calls for local area partners to jointly create an action plan to deliver rapid progress and long-term change across SEND services for Bristol’s children and young people. 

Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Lead for Children  said: “The challenges highlighted in the report have built up over the past nine years and been further exacerbated by a reduction in central government funding for these services.

“We share in that responsibility and despite the deep commitment of many frontline staff, we haven't acted fast enough with our health partners and school leaders to turn SEND provision around.

“Families and carers of children and young people with SEND in Bristol feel badly let down by the service they have received. We apologise unreservedly for this and want to offer assurance that we will not rest until their children get the quality service they deserve.”

Key findings:

  • The report noted that the implementation of the 2014 Special Education Needs (SEN) reforms in Bristol has been too slow and fragmented. However, inspectors recognised that since 2018 there have been noticeable improvements in the leadership of SEND in the local area, but that parents, carers and children will not have seen the benefits of this improvement to date
  • Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) statutory processes, high numbers of fixed term exclusions and a lack of awareness of the Local Offer are key areas needing improvement. It goes on to say that the energy, enthusiasm and determination of new leaders to improve provision is palpable and that recent improvements have been made but will take time to take effect
  • They also responded positively to plans for a new diagnostic pathway for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assessment, the impact this will have on assessment times and the clarity this will provide to parents and carers.

 

Alison Hurley, Director for Education and Skills said: “We remain committed to continuing to transform SEND services in Bristol. The inspection team recognised the improvements in joint-working with our partners and commitment from leaders to secure improvement in our systems. We are confident that we will achieve much improved outcomes for our children and young people with special education needs and disabilities once it embeds.

“One key area where people have been let down is the waiting time for Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs). We have addressed the staff shortages that have caused this by recruiting 24 new staff to work specifically on EHCPs, for example.

 

What is SEND?

Some children and young people may require more help to learn and develop than others. If their needs are not successfully met by support in their local school or education placement, they might need to access SEND services or national statutory processes. SEND services are teams across education, health and social care for children and young people aged 0-25 who are identified by the local area as having additional or complex needs.

 

We will be better able to cope with demand and improve timeliness, but it will take time for these improvements to be felt by the parents and carers of children and young people with SEND in Bristol.
— Alison Hurley, Director for Education and Skills

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