Shropshire Star

Telford SEND improvements highlighted

Improvements in how children and young people with special educational needs are diagnosed and receive support in Telford & Wrekin have been highlighted by the council.

Improvements in SEND have been highlighted

A joint inspection carried out by education body Ofsted and care inspectorate CQC was carried out in Telford & Wrekin last year.

The inspection bodies evaluated the ‘effectiveness of local arrangements to meeting the needs of children with special educational needs (SEND)’.

Telford & Wrekin Council were assessed along with various partners across health, education, care sectors and with settings, parents/carers and young people.

Natalie Bevan, the council’s SEND service delivery manager, said that it was not an inspection of the local authority but ‘rather how the whole area, including health partners work to support SEND’.

The partnership in Telford & Wrekin received the best of three possible outcomes.

The inspectors concluded: “The local area partnership’s SEND arrangement typically lead to positive experiences and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

“The local area partnership is taking action where improvements are needed.”

Mrs Bevan said that inspection report recognised the ‘passion and determination of the local organisations to support children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities to achieve positive outcomes’.

“It highlighted that children and young people with SEND are visible, valued and included in the Telford and Wrekin community,” Mrs Bevan told councillors at the council’s children and young people scrutiny committee this week.

Due to the positive outcome the next full area SEND inspection will be within the next five years.

The joint report said that ‘children and young people’s needs are typically identified and assessed quickly and accurately. Hence, the right help is put in place to meet their evolving needs’.

It was also highlighted that ‘area leaders closely monitor’ young people who are not in education, employment or training.

The partnership was praised for having an ‘effective system’ to support young people to return to a suitable placement.

The "stability" in the senior leadership of the Telford and Wrekin SEND service was also highlighted.

The partnership was given areas for improvement which included ‘improving the governance, monitoring and oversight of diagnostic pathways’.

This included neuro-developmental, mental health and speech and language therapy assessments.

Communication with families beyond the formal consultation routes, to advice about the provision available for children and young people with SEND, was another area for improvement.

Some of the changes being made include systems to oversee the partnership boards and monthly service contract reviews looking at diagnostic performance data.

A recent roll-out means that 50 per cent of schools in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin are now covered by mental health support teams.

Additional funding has been put into extra autism diagnostic assessments.

A Child Development Centre had launched an advice line for those waiting for autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or have been discharged within six months.

Additional staff have been put in the speech and language therapy service since the spring which has seen a reduction in waiting times.

A Working Together for Parent Participation group has also been formed involving representatives from more specific parent groups.

The partnership has also "reminded staff" to avoid the use of acronyms in meetings and communications.

The partnership is also working to ‘create a parent friendly version’ of services and map governance boards.

They also plan to hold a ‘market place event’ to inform parents/carers who key parent groups are.

Councillor Paul Watling, cabinet member for adult social care and health systems, said that improvement is ‘continuous’.

He added: “I’m really proud that we got the best possible outcome, but what more can we do?

“We don’t stop saying ‘how can we get better and do things differently by working together’.

“Part of that process is that people are able to connect and talk to us about the position they are in.”

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