Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission local area Special Educational Needs and Disabilities inspection – the results

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission local area Special Educational Needs and Disabilities inspection – the results

Between 28 February and 11 March 2022, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted their first inspection of the services and support provided across Education, Health and Care in Buckinghamshire for children and young people with SEND.

The report published today, 29 April 2022, identifies strengths and areas for development across the local area.

During the inspection, inspectors evaluated how effectively we:

  • identify the needs of children and young people with SEND
  • assess and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND
  • ensure positive outcomes for children and young people with SEND

The inspectors visited seven education settings covering all ages and received feedback from over 1,000 parents and carers. They met with children and young people of all abilities in education settings and focus groups. They spoke to a wide range of professionals across health, education and social care, reviewed a number of children’s Education, Health and Care Plans and received over 150 documents and supporting evidence.

Cabinet Member for Buckinghamshire Council’s Children’s Services, Councillor Anita Cranmer said:

“Children’s Services are firmly at the heart of the new unitary Buckinghamshire Council and in recent years SEND has become an increasingly prominent priority for us and there is now a considerable amount of co-ordinated activity taking place. We are pleased that the inspectors recognised the following areas of strength:

  • In Bucks we have a clear local area SEND Strategy and strong leadership that prioritises services for children and young people with SEND.
  • Our youth engagement is strong.
  • There is effective joint commissioning of services with health colleagues.
  • We have a good track record of identification of SEND across Early Years settings and children are well prepared for school.
  • Statutory assessments and Education, Health and Care plans are more timely and have improved in quality.
  • Virtual schools for Looked After Children (LAC) have been expanded so more pupils can benefit.
  • Interventions for children with Social, Emotional, and Mental Health needs are extensive. There is good access to health visitors’/health checks and Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services. School nurses deliver a helpful school readiness programme.
  • In Bucks we have strong education, good academic outcomes and low exclusions. There is a successful use of internship programmes contributing to positive employment, engagement and training figures.”

Councillor Cranmer added:

“However, we do know that for too many children, young people and their families, we do still fall short of what they deserve and I want to reassure them that we are not shying away from the crucial areas where sometimes much improvement is still required. Areas we know we need to improve on are:

  • The identification and meeting of the needs of those in receipt of SEND support.
  • The Annual Reviews and ensuring the social participation needs of children and young people are integrated into Education, Health and Care Plans.
  • Recruiting and retaining staff to ensure effective and consistent communication with families.
  • Improving how we involve families, working collaboratively with them to meet the needs of their children.
  • Developing a more coherent approach to Preparation for Adulthood, including increased options at post 19.

We are looking forward to working with our colleagues in Health to improve the services we provide to children with SEND.”

Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair for NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is an essential part of our work across the Buckinghamshire health and care system and a priority for the CCG.

“We welcome the inspectors’ findings and while we are pleased to see the areas of strength they have identified, we recognise we have significant work to do to deliver the level of service our young people deserve. Along with our local partners in health, social care and education, we are committed to addressing the priority areas raised by inspectors and continuing to improve the waiting times and quality of our care for young people and their families.”

What happens next?

  • The Council and NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group are in the process of developing the Written Statement of Action in response to the inspection findings. This action plan must be submitted to Ofsted by 8 August 2022.
  • The Children’s Services Continuous Improvement Board will oversee the Written Statement of Action, providing appropriate external challenge and rigour to drive improvement at pace and scale.
  • Monitoring arrangements are being confirmed with the Department for Education, which will meet with us every 4-6 months to assess and support our progress.
  • We will maintain our Quality Assurance work and improvement programme activity, overseen by the SEND Integrated Services Board.
  • We will continue with our recruitment and retention plans.

The full Ofsted/CQC inspection letter/ report can be found by clicking here.