ADCS annual conference: Social care set for greater scrutiny in future SEND inspections

By Derren Hayes

| 08 July 2019

The next round of area inspections of special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision could have greater involvement of social care services, according to Ofsted's social care chief.

Ofsted's director of social care Yvette Stanley believes accountability on SEND provision needs to improve

Ofsted inspections of SEND services assess education, health and care provision for children in an area, but tend not to involve social care services or practitioners.

Speaking at the Association of Directors of Children's Services annual conference, Ofsted director of social care Yvette Stanley said when the inspections were designed it was decided to exclude social care so not to over burden children's services departments.

Stanley said that decision may need to be reconsidered for the next three-year round of SEND inspections, which will likely begin in 2020.

"When these inspections were set up there was a deliberate policy decision that social care would not be involved," Stanley explained.

"The rationale at the time was that you do not need another social care inspection.

"I do wonder whether now is the time to revisit that."

Under the current round of SEND inspections, two thirds of areas have now been inspected. Of the 101 areas inspected, 46 per cent have been ordered to produce written statements of action to address significant failings.

Stanley said the main issues found by inspectors have been the quality of leadership, the standard of care plans and poor joint commissioning arrangements.

She said the next round of inspections - which she dubbed "daughter of SEND" - would need to be clearer about what agencies were accountable for.

"I sometimes look at the statements of action and I'm not sure if anyone round the table is responsible for that bit of strategic commissioning," she said.

"Accountability is important to understand when we start to design the daughter of area SEND inspections."

One conference delegate whose area had recently undergone a SEND inspection, said children's services leaders would welcome more involvement of social care services in the process.

She said: "I didn't experience it as an inspection that didn't have social care involvement - my social care team were very much at the table and a number of others have said the same.

"I think you'd be pushing at an open door if you recognise that as leaders and practitioners we see the spirit of the legislation and want to work holistically."

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