Improvements to be made to services for young people with special needs and disabilities after Local Area Ofsted and CQC inspection in Newham

Newham’s Local Area Partnership has reaffirmed its commitment to young people with special needs and disabilities (SEND) and promised to introduce a range of improvements following a recent local area Ofsted and CQC inspection.

In a report published today (15 March), the joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission identified six areas of weakness within Newham’s SEND services across the partnership which is made up of Newham Council, health partners, schools/education settings and Newham Parents Forum, following an inspection in December 2021. The focus of the inspection was on the effectiveness of local area services since the introduction of reforms in September 2014.

The report mirrors the partnership’s self-evaluation which highlighted the strengths and challenges in the local delivery of services and outlined Newham’s activities to address them.

During the visit last year, inspectors spoke with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, parents and carers, and local authority and NHS officers. They visited a range of settings and spoke to leaders, staff and governors about how they are implementing the SEND reforms. They also took account of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on SEND arrangements in the area and explored how the area’s plans and actions had been adapted as a result.

Inspectors identified strengths as well as weaknesses and found local political leaders were committed to providing the best outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. They also found outcomes in early years are strong and most young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Newham attend good or better settings, achieving well. Specialist settings were praised for providing high-quality provision.

The inspectors recognised the impact of area special educational needs coordinators (SENCOS) and local leaders working together to promote a better understanding of children’s needs and noted the good multi-agency involvement from education, health and care at network meetings. The report also stated that young people who have other vulnerabilities, such as children in care and those known to youth offending services are well supported and their needs are well understood. No safeguarding issues were found during the course of the inspection.

The partnership will now produce a Written Statement of Action setting out how it plans to make improvements against the six priority areas identified by inspectors. The council and North East London CCG are committed to doing this in partnership with young people, parents and carers. A series of themed ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ style workshops with external experts will be held throughout March and April based on the Ofsted/CQC findings to agree the actions to take forward.

The plan will build on the work of the Newham SEND Commission, which launched in May 2021 to ensure young people, parents, carers and partners are at the heart of shaping the SEND and Inclusion strategy for the next five years, from 2022-27. The commission, which is independently led by Professor Geoff Lindsay of Warwick University, has been supporting the partnership to collate diverse perspectives and take an evidence-based approach to inform improvements and local decision-making.

Councillor Sarah Ruiz, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Social Care said: “We are totally committed to providing the best outcomes for children and young people with SEND and are working closely with all partners to deliver our agenda. The independent SEND commission set up last year is key to this work and its findings will be used to shape future strategy. Co-production runs through everything we do and the input of young people and their families is essential as is hearing their truths. They will play a huge part in our improvement journey and we will work closely with them in putting together our Written Statement of Action. We are determined to build a truly inclusive borough, where children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are enabled to thrive in education and in our wider community and supported to build the skills they need to live a fulfilling adult life.”

Siobhan Harper, director of transition at NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We accept the report’s findings and recognise there is still significant work to do to support our children, young people and families with special educational needs and disabilities.

“Along with our local partners in health, social care and education, we are committed to addressing the priority areas raised by inspectors and improving the quality and delivery of our SEND provision for young people and their families in Newham.”

The letter from Ofsted to the council can be found here

The Joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission Report can be read here.

The council will provide a written Statement of Action that is the formal response required to the report.

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