Ofsted inspectors revisit Sheffield Council following ‘significant weaknesses’ with SEND

Inspectors will revisit Sheffield Council this month after they previously found significant weaknesses in the way vulnerable children are supported.

Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 2:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 2:57 pm

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will carry out a joint revisit after a 2018 inspection was critical of the council’s special educational needs and disabilities provision.

The revisit was due in October 2020 but was delayed by the pandemic. It will now take place from February 21 to 23 and parents are encouraged to give their views.

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Inspectors will revisit Sheffield Council this month after they previously found significant weaknesses in its special educational needs and disabilities provision.

An online survey will open at 12 noon on Monday, February 14 and close at 12 noon on Friday, February 18 and parents can also email [email protected]

What did the previous inspection find?

Back in 2018 inspectors ruled an action plan was required because of significant areas of weakness.

It said reforms brought in during 2014 had not been implemented consistently or swiftly enough in Sheffield.

Children and their families had widely different experiences of the arrangements for identifying, assessing and meeting their needs.

Too many children and young people did not have their needs assessed accurately or in a timely way.

Meeting expected timescales to complete education, health and care plans was ‘weak’ and quality assurance of these plans was ‘underdeveloped’.

Identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of SEND children was not embedded in mainstream primary and secondary schools.

High levels of fixed-term and permanent exclusions resulted in SEND children not achieving as well as they should.

Children were not supported well enough by social care and health and education professionals at these ‘crucially important points in their lives’.

Those who made decisions about how funding is spent did not use the information they had to prioritise the things that will make the biggest difference to SEND children

The CCG had poor strategic oversight for identifying, assessing and meeting the health needs of SEND children which resulted in unacceptable delays in assessing and meeting some children and young people’s health needs.

It determined that Sheffield Council and Sheffield’s Clinical Commissioning Group were jointly responsible for submitting the written statement of action to Ofsted.

What has Sheffield Council done since 2018?

The council’s action plan, last updated in 2020, says almost half of its priorities have now been completed.

Its Inclusion Strategy was developed through consultation with young people, parents and carers and frontline staff. It has been approved by the council and CCG.

SEND best practice guidance on communicating with families has already received positive feedback from headteachers.

A task force was established to reduce waiting times for autism assessments and support and provide better pre-diagnostic support.

Waiting times remain high for some services, although they have stabilised in recent months and more appointments are being offered to people who are high risk.

A small number of key workers are being recruited to help families with complex needs.

And a new £400,000 programme will increase the quantity and quality of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities and who are severely mentally impaired.