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Commitment to improving services for special needs children

Child with SEND

Slough Borough Council, Frimley CCG and Slough Children First have renewed their commitment to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) following the release of an Ofsted report

Slough Borough Council, Frimley CCG and Slough Children First have renewed their commitment to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) following the release of an Ofsted and CQC report into local services.

The report, released today (17 November), is highly critical of some of the SEND services in Slough stating an official Written Statement of Action (WSOA) is required following an inspection earlier this year.

Some of the main criticisms include a lack of joined-up working between the organisations, lack of collaboration with parents and families of SEND children, parents and carers not feeling understood, welcomed or helped, some schools not being welcoming of SEND children, high staff turnover, social care needs not being met and long waiting times to see an occupational therapist or receive an educational health and care plan (EHCP).

However other areas are singled out for praise including SEND services in Early Years, the mental health transformation programme, the support received from the SEND information, advice and support service (SENDIASS) and the ‘valiant efforts’ of individual members of staff.

Councillor Christine Hulme, lead member for education and children, who took on the portfolio in May, said: “Reading that there are too few opportunities for SEND children to experience social parts of childhood like their peers is heart-breaking, but nowhere near as tough as it must be for the children themselves and their families.

“We have been working since I took over the portfolio on better joining up all our services and this is noted in the report, but unfortunately the work is too new to have had any real impact before Ofsted and CQC visited.

“We need to improve and fast, not just because it is what our SEND children need, but because it is what they deserve.”

In May 2021, a rapid improvement plan was put into place across the council, children’s services and health with the following objectives:

  • To secure effective joint leadership oversight and accountability
  • To secure an effective approach to using funding including through aligned and joint commissioning
  • To address pressing gaps in assessment and provision
  • To develop an effective approach to capturing the views of representative groups of children and young people with SEND and their families across the area and enabling coproduction.
  • To ensure that the local offer (online information) is co-produced, up to date, informative and easy to navigate and sustainable.

Tony Hunter, recently appointed Chair of Slough Children First, said “In our new status as a council owned company, committed to even closer collaboration, we at Slough Children First will give every possible support to the council in its clear determination to develop and improve - at speed - services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“We are pleased the contribution of our social workers in helping families has been recognised; this gives a strong foundation for intense work across partners to improve the quality of children and families needing this range of services.”

Tracy Faraday-Drake, managing director of the NHS Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group in Slough said: “‘We are determined to provide the children and young people across Slough who have special educational needs and disabilities the services they need in a timely way, so they have every opportunity to flourish.

“This inspection has shone a light on some of our most vulnerable children and we are working together with the borough council and with our other partners to drive the transformation of these vital services.”

The full report can be found here: Ofsted | Slough Borough Council as Local Area SEND inspection.

Published: 17 November 2021