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Action plan to improve borough SEND services deemed 'fit for purpose'

An action plan written in response to a damning Ofsted assessment of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) services in the Royal Borough is ‘fit for purpose’.

That was the education inspection body’s view in a letter written to the council last week.

Last night (Monday), Nick Stevens, the headteacher of Riverside Primary School in West Dean, went over the 53-page action plan for members of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board.

He said: “It (SEND) is an issue that touches everybody in the local authority.

“Whatever we do we still seem to be coming across a number of barriers.”

A report by Ofsted, published in September, said there was a ‘lack of leadership capacity across local area services’, children and young people who have SEND wait too long to be seen by the services, and stated there were ‘wide variances in the quality of education, health and care plans caused by weaknesses in the planning and transition processes’.

Ofsted inspected services provided by the council, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), public health, NHS England for specialist services, early years settings, schools and further education providers.

It required a written statement of action to be drawn up, outlining how key areas of criticism would be remedied.

That statement includes the establishment of a SEND Steering Board between the council, health providers, schools and parents, and introducing a voluntary Inclusion Quality Mark scheme, which the statement says will ‘allow parents and young people to compare different approaches to inclusion’.

Mr Stevens also described how other headteachers in the borough were asked to rank how inclusive their schools were during a SEND meeting, responding to a series of statements.

They gave high marks for their own schools for being inclusive, but low marks when presented with the statement: “Schools across RBWM are consistent in their approach to inclusion.”

Mr Stevens summarised: “So everyone thinks they’re doing everything they can, and everybody thinks everybody else isn’t.”

The meeting took place at the Town Hall in St Ives Road.

Visit www.rbwm.gov.uk to view the action plan.

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