Inspectors criticise quality of SEND support in Leicester

Joe Lepper
Monday, June 25, 2018

Inspectors have criticised support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Leicester, in particular the quality of education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Leicester Council is set to cut its youth services budget by more than half. Picture: Leicester Council
Leicester Council is set to cut its youth services budget by more than half. Picture: Leicester Council

Following a visit that took place across April and May, inspectors described EHC plans as "weak" and found they contain inaccurate information that is "not fit for purpose".

The lack of accuracy in EHC plans is a particular concern for local head teachers who told Ofsted it meant they did not know if they would be able to meet a pupil's needs when they joined their school.

In addition, inspectors found very little evidence of social care support in the plans, which have replaced statements of special need.

"The quality of the education, health and care (EHC) plans is weak," states Ofsted and health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in a letter to Leicester City Council and the city's clinical commissioning group.

"The majority of plans do not contain outcomes that are fit for purpose. Too many plans do not reflect the children and young people's needs accurately."

The letter adds: "Children and young people have high aspirations of what they want to achieve in life. They are determined to achieve their goals and to try to break down barriers. However, these aspirations are not consistently planned for in their EHC plans."

Inspectors also found that leaders across the council and CCG lack a clear strategy for how to improve support.

They also note that, while a special educational needs action plan is in place, it does not have clear criteria for success, which makes it difficult for local leaders to judge whether support is improving.

Another concern is the transition for young people from children's services to adult support, which is leading to delays in accessing help.

Inspectors also found that the proportion of young people with SEND who are not in education, employment or training is higher than the national average and support on offer also needs to be better promoted among families.

"Many families who spoke with inspectors did not know how to get help and support their children," states the inspectorates' letter.

Despite the concerns, inspectors found that within health services, professionals work well together to make sure they are aware of children's health history before they attend appointments.

"This ensures that there is a good understanding of children who have complex and multiple needs. The information is shared easily because all health practitioners use a single electronic data system," the letter adds.

Both the council and CCG have been asked to provide the inspectorate with a written statement of how they plan to improve SEND support.

A spokesman for Leicester City Council said: "We take on board Ofsted's findings and have set up an improvement team who will oversee our statutory plans, making sure they more accurately reflect what young people want and need.

"We will make sure these plans fully include the views of the child, their family and all professionals involved with the child.

"Our improvement plan will also look to support a smoother transition between child and adult healthcare so that children receive seamless care.

"We've already started work with schools and colleges to help improve outcomes for children and young people, so that they achieve their potential both academically and socially."

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