Inspectors praise efforts to improve SEND provision in East Sussex

Neil Puffett
Monday, February 27, 2017

Work to improve provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in East Sussex is starting to bear fruit, inspectors have said.

Inspectors said leaders in East Sussex had taken urgent action to address areas of weakness in SEN provision. Picture: East Sussex County Council
Inspectors said leaders in East Sussex had taken urgent action to address areas of weakness in SEN provision. Picture: East Sussex County Council

Inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission said that during a visit conducted in December 2016, most parents and carers of children and young people who have SEND reported being "very positive" about the provision their children receive in schools.

However, they added that there remains a "sizeable minority" of parents who lack confidence in the local area's leaders and services, due to "flaws in the quality of the services that these parents and carers experienced in the recent past".

"Leaders have taken urgent action to address areas of weaknesses and improve services," a letter outlining the inspection findings states.

"They have correctly identified where improvements need to be made and in many cases have addressed these with some success.

"There is a strong commitment to improving outcomes for children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities that is shared by professionals across the county."

Inspectors said leaders were also clear that they need to improve their communication with parents and carers and are involved in work to strengthen relationships with key parent and carer groups.

"There is evidence of some contribution of parents and carers, and children and young people, to the evaluation of services," the letter states.

"However, leaders recognise that there is more work to do to increase the participation of parents, carers and children and young people in assessing the work of the local area.

"This is especially the case with the local offer, of which the vast majority of parents and carers whom inspectors met are unaware."

Inspectors said that children and young people with SEN who are in the care of the local authority receive good support and do well in terms of academic outcomes compared with similar pupils nationally.

A specialist looked-after children nurse team has been established, and a designated SEN medical officer works closely with the named doctor for looked-after children and the designated looked-after children nurse.

Meanwhile, leaders are taking urgent action to address the increasing absence and exclusion rates for children and young people who have SEND.

"The impact of this work is evident in targeted schools," the letter states.

"Early indications are that the trend is being reversed steadily."

However, despite taking action, agencies in East Sussex failed to reduce waiting times for referrals to child and adolescent mental health services.

"The delays are causing parents anxiety and are having a negative impact on children's and young people's mental health," the letter states.

"Leaders are taking further action to address these ongoing concerns."

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