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Royal Borough improves some SEND services for children and young people

The latest inspection of the Royal Borough’s special educational needs and disability (SEND) services has found some ‘significant weaknesses’ have improved – but not all.

An initial inspection, carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, prompted a written statement of action to be issued on August 24, 2017, as a result of ‘significant areas of weakness in the area’s practice’.

During the latest inspection, carried out over three days in mid-October, inspectors spoke to children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities, parents and carers, council officers, NHS staff and an adviser from the Department for Education.

Their report, published just before Christmas, found that the Royal Borough had made sufficient progress in addressing six of the eight significant weaknesses identified at the initial inspection, but had made insufficient progress in the other two.

One of the areas that still needs improving is ‘the inequality of services and varia-bility of experience for children and young people with SEND and their families’.

Access to therapies including speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services has improved.

However the needs of ‘too many children and young people continue to be unmet’.

Waiting times for occupational therapy are increasing and waiting times for services relating to attention deficit hyperactivity disorders and the autism assessment team are still too high, the report adds.

It states: “Some parents continue to refer to feeling they have to ‘fight’ for their children’s needs to be met.”

It also states that ‘improvements to assessment and services for young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 are underway’ but not ‘sufficiently comprehensive or well developed’.

The other weakness that inspectors judged was not significantly improved was the ‘poor joint commissioning arrangements that limit leaders’ ability to ensure that there are adequate services to meet local area needs’. The waiting times for occupational therapy, and ADHD and autism spectrum disorder pathways are cited as examples.

It added, however, that weaknesses in how leaders are held to account across the local area has sufficiently improved, thanks largely to the appointments of an area SEND co-ordinator and adviser.

A Royal Borough spokesman said the report showed ‘significant progress’.

He said: “The increased collaboration between the council, schools, health providers and parents has improved outcomes for young people.

“There is more work to do, especially around services for young people with ASD or ADHD and for those young peopletransitioning to adulthood.

“The team that has driven the improvement will continue to focus on these areas.”

View the report in full here.

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