Improvements to address significant weaknesses in services for those with special educational needs

Child with autism

A recent inspection into the services across Cheshire East for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities found that there are significant areas of weakness in the local area's practice.

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted a joint inspection in March 2018 to judge the effectiveness of the area in implementing the special educational needs and disability reforms as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.

Following the inspection of SEND services by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, the inspectors recommended that Cheshire East produce and submit a written statement of action to explain how it will tackle: the timeliness, process and quality of education, health and care plans; the lack of an effective pathway for children and young people with autism and and unreasonable waiting times.

As a result a report has been produced, written by the authority's children and families overview and scrutiny committee, which sets out 17 recommendations, which aim to improve services since the introduction of new government legislation. This requires local authorities and health partners to reform the way they support and identify children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The recommendations include that:

● Any shortfalls in services for children and young people with moderate learning difficulties and autism are addressed;

● All schools are encouraged to welcome children with SEND; and

● The working relationship between schools, health service and the council continues to improve, particularly in the production of education, health and care plans (EHCPs)

Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: "We welcome the recommendations from this report as we recognise the significant challenges faced by families of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

"We also know that some of our processes and support in Cheshire East are not to the standard that we all want and that our children and young people deserve.

"We welcome the work done to date, both by the members of the overview and scrutiny committee and our officers and are absolutely clear that any delay in either the council or partner processes must be addressed.

"I would like to thank the members of the scrutiny committee for their hard work and we look forward to continuing to work together to improve the experiences and outcomes for Cheshire East's children and young people with SEND."