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1st Jul, 2022

SEND protest plan brings reply from county's education chief

PARENT, carers and supporters will be holding a peaceful protest over what they regard as the ongoing failures of Worcestershire County Council to meet its statutory obligations for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The protest, at 10am at County Hall on Monday, November 1, will coincide with a visit from inspectors from the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted.

In 2018, the CQC and Ofsted conducted a joint inspection in Worcestershire to judge its effectiveness in implementing the SEND reforms set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.

As a result of the findings of this inspection it was determined that a Written Statement of Action would be required ‘because of significant areas of weakness’.

Identified failings included lack of strategic direction from leadership, children and young people who have SEN and/or disabilities not being provided with the quality of support and service they were legally entitled to, negative relationships with parent-carers and families and poor quality education,

The re-visit will evaluate how effectively leaders have addressed these areas of concern.

Tracy Winchester, joint co-ordinator for SEND National Crisis Worcestershire, and chair of North Worcestershire Autism Parents Support Group, said: “We just would like the improvements that we need and our children deserve in our county.

“In some respects, things seem worse than in 2018, and the little improvements noted by some families seem to be completely overshadowed by the continued utter disregard of children’s needs in other cases.”

However Councillor Marcus Hart, the cabinet member for education at County Hall, said the county had been working hard to address the issues of concern.

“The purpose of the inspection is to determine whether our Local Area has made sufficient progress in addressing each area of serious weakness detailed in the Written Statement of Action.

“We have been working hard with our health partners along with schools, colleges and the parent carer forum ‘Families in Partnership’ to address the key concerns.

“A key part of the improvement plan has been to work closely with schools to ensure needs are identified early for children with SEND and that help, guidance and if needed additional support is provided and schools know what is expected of them.

“We have made significant investments into staffing for SEND in recent years.

” In the summer we did experience some staffing shortages (but) I am pleased to say we have recruited to vacancies and staff are joining the team this autumn.

“We take the experiences of children and families very seriously and know we need to continue our improvement journey to ensure we are able to sustain changes and continue to develop our support for families across the partnership.”

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