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Nottinghamshire partnership apologises for widespread failings in SEND services

The partnership responsible for commissioning and planning the services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Nottinghamshire has apologised that children and young people are waiting too long to receive specialist educational health care assessments and the therapies they need.

05/06/23

Nottinghamshire partnership apologises for widespread failings in SEND services

Nottinghamshire Local Area Partnership has apologised for widespread, systemic failings with children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

The apology comes after a damning report into the partnership from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Ofsted, where inspectors said the failings led to “significant concerns” about children’s experiences and outcomes. The partnership has been asked to address these concerns urgently.

There are currently 16,000 children and young people in Nottinghamshire with SEND and over the past five years, the number of requests for Education Health and Care (EHC) assessments has more than doubled.

“Children and young people wait too long to have their needs accurately assessed,” inspectors said. “This includes accessing assessment and therapy services for children and young people who are receiving SEN support and those children and young people applying for education, health, and care plans (EHC plans). As a result, their needs are not being met in a timely way. Leaders’ plans and actions have not resulted in noticeable or sustained improvements to this situation.”

“Too many children and young people with SEND wait too long to access some health services such as speech and language therapy and neuro-developmental pathways. In addition, there are gaps in service provision, for example in occupational therapy and some specialist equipment provision. This results in ongoing frustration for children, young people and families.”

Inspectors added that for those children and young people with the most complex needs, “EHC plans do not identify health and social care needs, outcomes, or services well enough.”

Colin Pettigrew, Director of Children’s and Families’ services at Nottinghamshire County Council said partners need to work together to improve.

“We are sorry that that too many children and young people are waiting far too long for their needs to be identified, diagnosed, assessed and that we need to work better across the Partnership to ensure their needs are met.

“We accept the findings of the report and we are committed to working across the partnership to improve the experience of children and young people with SEND.

“There has been a substantial increase in demand and an acute shortage of the specialists to meet that need, such as speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, specialist teachers, social workers and specialist nurses. We cannot meet the increased demand based on the shortage of specialists available. This is simply not good enough and we appreciate the impact this is having on children and young people and their families.

A Nottinghamshire SEND Partnership Improvement Board has been established to oversee the improvement actions needed. The board will be chaired independently by Dame Christine Lenehan OBE, Director of the Council for Disabled Children, part of the National Children’s Bureau.

Nottinghamshire Parent Carer Forum (NPCF), a registered charity run by, and for, parent carers of children or young people with an additional need and/or a disability said that the findings of the inspection reflect the experiences and concerns that families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) often communicate with the forum.

The forum’s lead, Georgina Palmer, said prompt action must be taken to address the issues raised in the report.

“Nottinghamshire Parent Carer Forum played an important role in the inspection by representing parents' views and experiences and we are hopeful that the report will lead to significant change and provide the momentum needed to make genuine improvements for children, young people, and their families.

“Looking ahead, there is a considerable amount of work to be done and the forum remains committed to working collaboratively and in partnership with the local authority, the Integrated Care Board and others, on the development of a robust improvement plan that will ensure that real change does occur.

“Listening to the experiences and perspectives of families and putting the needs of children and young people with SEND at the centre of plans, we are optimistic that positive outcomes can be achieved.”

Read the full inspection report: https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50216722

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