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Special Needs Education in Surrey slammed by Ofsted and CQC

December 12, 2016 11:12 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems
Cllr Chris Botten

Cllr Chris Botten

It will come as no surprise to head teachers and many parents that provision for children with Special Educational Needs (SEND) in Surrey has been heavily criticised by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

Following a joint inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission conducted during October this year, a number of serious criticisms have been set out which require a Written Statement of Action to Ofsted to set out how Surrey will tackle serious areas of weakness.

As an experienced Chair of Governors in a number of Surrey Schools I have been concerned for some time that the processes for the identification of special needs for Surrey children, and the delays in plans for meeting those needs, have frustrated parents and head teachers alike.

Now Ofsted and the CQC have confirmed those concerns and require a plan of action to resolve them.

Characteristically, Surrey has not announced the outcome of the inspection. It has referred County Councillors to the Ofsted website where the outcome letter can be found. The key areas requiring improvement are:

"The timeliness, suitability and quality of statutory assessments and plans, including when statements are transferred to education, health and care plans.

The under-developed and often limited involvement of parents and carers, and the narrow range of those included, in planning, monitoring and evaluating services. The ineffective promotion of the local offer, and the incomplete statutory transition plan.

The inefficient management and coordination of area information, in administrative processes, to inform evaluation of services and outcomes, and to hold leaders and staff at all levels to account for rapid improvement.

The relatively low identification of need at school support level, indicating inefficiencies in the early identification of special educational needs and/or disabilities.

The increasing rates of absence and exclusion experienced by children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities in mainstream schools. "

In laymen's terms, this means that children's needs take too long to be identified, too long to be resourced, that parents have to fight the system to get their children the help they need, and that head teachers too often have to exclude children with special needs in order for the system to start to address their needs.

This is yet another indictment of the service Surrey County Council provides for its vulnerable children, following a number of highly critical inspections of Children's Services.

All local government and health services are faced with severe budget constraints. It is particularly sad that yet again Surrey has done less well with its resources than other areas and that its most vulnerable children fail to get the help they need.

The full text of the letter from Ofsted and the CQC is set out here.

Biographical Note:

Cllr Botten is a former head teacher. He has nearly forty years' experience as a school governor and has been chair of governors of five Surrey Schools in the last three years.

Cllr Botten is in his twentieth year as a Tandridge District Councillor and his third term as Chairman of Caterham on the Hill Parish Council. He has always had a special interest in educational and health matters, having had a successful career in both sectors.

Cllr Botten can be contacted on: Chris.Botten@outlook.com or 07917 862130