SEND criticism - Cllr Jos Saunders - new Cabinet for CEC

Ofsted inspectors have criticised Cheshire East Council for “serious weaknesses” in its services for youngsters with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

Now the authority has to provide a ‘Written Statement’ to Ofsted to outline how it intends to improve.

A joint inspection from the Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found fault in the “timeliness, process and quality” of education, health and care (EHC) plans for SEND children and young people.

The inspectors, who looked at Cheshire East Council and NHS services, also highlighted “unreasonable waiting times” and the lack of an effective pathway to support children on the autism spectrum and their families.

A letter sent to Cheshire East Council said: “The vast majority of parents who contributed to the inspection do not believe that their children’s needs have been identified in a timely manner. They are justified in their view.

“Inspectors saw far too many examples of children who have significant health and/or social care needs yet their EHC plans state ‘none identified’.

“This failing on the part of leaders has a detrimental effect on the lives of children, young people and their families.

“Due to delays in identification of needs and the subsequent failure to meet needs effectively, some families have now entered the social care system.

“This situation could have been avoided had their children’s needs been identified sooner and the appropriate provision put in place. Some parents recounted how they now ‘fear’ for their children’s futures.”

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

Inspectors did praise some of the SEND provision – including ‘significant improvement’ in leadership, the teams responsible for complex care, autism and children with disabilities, and the work to provide training for SEND young people.

But they insist these are “overshadowed” by the biggest weaknesses.

In response to the report, Cllr Jos Saunders (pictured), cabinet member for children and families, insists they are on the right track to deliver “better, more-focussed provision”.

She 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.”

However, Cllr Sam Corcoran, leader of CEC’s Labour opposition, believes the council has painted a rosier picture about the report’s findings than it ought to have done.

“I found it astonishing that they made such a positive press release on a report that has found the council to be inadequate in some areas,” he added.

“I think there is a huge amount of spin on that. There are serious problems with SEND services in CEC.

“I do believe things are going in the right direction but they are starting on a very low base and there is a huge amount of improvement to make.”

5 Comments

  1. Rob Pickersgill says:

    Very sorry to hear of parents’ experiences on here. I provide 1-1 Home Education for pupils in Cheshire with SEND and autism. If I can be of help please private message me on Facebook.

  2. After being told our son likely had aspergers we were aghast to find that even though Audrey Oppenheim was seeing him, due to it being private Cheshire East would not accept it. We then had to go through the NHS,we thought this ridiculous and wasteful of resources. He had an assessment then they sent questions to his school teacher, he had only just stated in his class in September and the decision was based on this by someone who never even met our son. The issues arise at home, he holds it together at school. We wanted help and intervention whilst he is young and feel utterly let down by the system.

  3. Cheshire East moved my son from mainstream to a none ASC school. It all fell apart with 9 months he’s was being punished for his ASC trates he was totally distort and break down at the word (school).
    I did a risk assessment and found it’s was too dangerous for him and me to get him to school. That school did so much damage also Cheshire East removed his SPD issues from his EHCP. He’s now he’s been out of school for over 7months all I get is sorry! That’s not good enough more needs to be do this doesn’t just affect one family it affects extended family friends everyone involved in your child’s life and it’s like talking to a brick wall when you ask for help.

  4. Lorraine Srandring says:

    Quite correct it’s taken 8 years and exclusion and a year in the PRU yet still failing to meet the needs- yr 11 pupil not having needs met for exams even although parent started fighting 5 months ago for access arrangements – so when I pupil can’t Cope walks out it’s a failed exam when things could have been put in place!

  5. Epic fail all round really, these children and their stressed parents have been dreadfully treated.
    It’s taking years to get help, in the meantime the children lag behind in their studies, siblings are sidelined as the massive strain falls on the parents who are overwhelmed with the amount of extra care and training they should have been given so much earlier.
    The problem is every single child’s needs are different, but the end result is sheer neglect by the authorities.

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