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Parents promised additional support

Closer working with parents of children with SEND has been pledged after funding for extra staff has been allocated to meet the workload.

The additional investment to meet increased demand and improve quality was part of Staffordshire County Council’s response put in place before an updated Ofsted and Care Quality Commission inspection of Special Education Needs and Disability provision in the county.

The reinspection of the service in January, which is commissioned and delivered by the county council, schools and NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), found improvements in six out of eight areas under review.

However, inspectors said more work still needs to be done to improve both the relationships with families and the content of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

Jonathan Price, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Education and SEND, said: “Staff have worked very hard to get this far though we know we must do more, particularly working with parents and in how the EHCPs are drawn up.

“As the father of a child with SEND, I am determined that we will keep working to bring improvement across the board; we have already increased the number of staff who draft the reports by a quarter and have allocated funding to allow teaching staff in each borough and district to devote more time to SEND.

“With the other steps already in place I believe we are moving in the right direction and parents will see the difference for their children.”

Additionally practical changes already planned include developing a recently launched Parent Carer Forum to identity problems and find solutions more quickly and working on a national pilot scheme with the Council for Disabled Children to measure the impact of the changes being made.

Since 2014 the number of children with EHCPs has almost doubled, in line with national trends, from around 3,300 then to more than 6,400 today.

Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer for the NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs, said: “I’d like to recognise our committed teams across the NHS, county council and other partners, and say thank you for the hard work they have done to improve services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“There is still more work to do, and we are working closely to continue to build on the improvements already made.”

Since the last Ofsted inspection in 2018, Staffordshire County Council has agreed a new SEND strategy based upon the principle of all children with special educational needs and disabilities reaching their potential by receiving the right support at the right time in their own communities, at their local school or place of education.

Commitments included educating more children closer to home and providing more support for teaching in mainstream classrooms and funding the appointment of extra staff to process EHCP assessments more quickly.

Jonathan Price added: “As well as making structural changes and investing additional resources, we are also working to make SEND education more inclusive in mainstream schools, with early intervention and common standards across Staffordshire.”


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