A multi-agency team from Lincolnshire will carry out an independent review into SEND provision.
A multi-agency team from Lincolnshire will carry out an independent review into the way parents and carers are communicated with and kept informed of their child’s SEND provision in Suffolk.
The SEND (special educational needs and disability) review will focus on the processes, communication protocols and family-facing elements of SEND services within Suffolk County Council. It will not look at specific cases or the provision given to specific children.
The review will start next week and will be completed within six weeks. The report, with any recommendations, will be published on Suffolk County Council’s website, shared with those who contributed to it and also scrutinised, in public, by the council’s Education and Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee.
The review team from Lincolnshire will consist of two senior officers from Lincolnshire County Council, performance analysts and the chair of the county’s parent carer network.
Councillor Rachel Hood, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, SEND and skills, said:
“Lincolnshire has excellent SEND provision and the team has kindly agreed to review certain elements of our service and will make recommendations based on their findings which will be of great value to us.
“Families with experience of Suffolk’s SEND may share their feedback of the communication process for the review, but we ask that this is relevant to the scope of the review. We have set up an email account for families to feed in their comments. It is important that a range of stakeholders are heard so we can fully understand our strengths and weaknesses and identify next steps. Ofsted have confirmed that we have made significant improvement in this area, and the findings of this review will enable this improvement to continue.”
SEND services in Suffolk are delivered in partnership by Suffolk County Council, Suffolk’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and education settings.
The review will look at:
- The effective flow of cases
- Communication with young people and families
- Processes for dealing with incoming enquiries from young people and families in a timely manner
- A focus on the family-facing elements of the service
- The allocation of provision and, where appropriate, placement in a timely way for children
In recent weeks, there have been calls from some parents and carers of children with SEND - known as the Campaign for Change (SEND Suffolk) - for a lawyer-led audit of the council’s compliance with the legal requirements set out for the service. Suffolk County Council has considered this request, but has decided not to move forward with it because:
- It is the role of Ofsted to inspect all aspects of SEND provision, including those that would be included in such an audit. Ofsted and CQC has already made two monitoring visits to Suffolk and have identified areas of progress as well as areas of improvement
- A new national SEND inspection framework is being launched, meaning further detailed inspections will take place
- The county council already has an internal and external auditing process for Education, Health and Care Plans
- There is an established complaints procedure for parents and carers who feel that the service they are receiving is not appropriate or sufficient
Suffolk County Council is eager to work collaboratively and productively with the Campaign for Change group, and parents and carers not involved or represented by the group, to make improvements in SEND services.
Councillor Hood added:
“We know that every parent and carer wants the best for their children, especially when it comes to education and care. Suffolk County Council wants the same and must strive to provide the very best services we can.
“This review will be immediate, in depth and independent and we will act on the recommendations made as swiftly and thoroughly as we can.
“We want to reassure parents and carers that this is a priority and we will make improvements where they are needed as quickly as possible.”
In Suffolk nearly 18,000 young people are supported in some way through local SEND services, including 5,900 with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) or those receiving support in education settings. Demand has grown very significantly. Prior to the 2014 national SEND reforms, Suffolk held approximately 3,000 statements of SEND.
If you would like to participate in this review then please share your experiences of the processes, communication protocols and family-facing elements of SEND services within Suffolk County Council at SendReview@suffolk.gov.uk. This email account is only for review feedback and should not be used to raise specific issues.