‘Sufficient progress’ is being made with Sheffield Council’s services for special needs children

Sheffield Council is making “sufficient progress” with its special educational needs and disability services following a return visit by inspectors.

Monday, 28th March 2022, 10:02 am

A letter from Ofsted says progress has been made in six out of the seven areas of weaknesses previously identified in a 2018 inspection, which ruled an action plan was required.

Director of education Andrew Jones recently said he was “truly sorry” that parents of disabled children had been let down by the council.

Mr Jones, who came into the job in January 2021, admitted the council still hadn’t made enough progress with the way children transition through services but said the council was committed to dealing with this, to resolving issues for children and their families and to listening and acting on feedback.

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Coun Jayne Dunn, Executive member for education, children and families, said she was pleased Ofsted had recognised Sheffield Council's commitment to improving SEND services

Sheffield Council says it has worked closely with Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group and Sheffield Parent Carer Forum and services have been redesigned to better meet the needs of children and young people.

Ofsted notes that communication between all stakeholders has improved and leaders are “leading by example in changing the culture in Sheffield”.

Inspectors found families “appreciate the commitment and actions that leaders have shown more recently”.

‘SEND children our priority’

Coun Jayne Dunn, Executive member for education, said: “Sheffield Council is determined to meet the needs of children with SEND and their families – their priorities are our priorities.

“The report shows how far we have come. It is testament to the hard work being carried out by all involved and shows the commitment to getting this right, despite the extraordinary challenges of the recent pandemic. It’s good to see Ofsted recognising this.”

Inspectors also spent time with frontline staff and senior management from the council and CCG and found management have ‘strategic and accurate’ oversight of service operations and were aware of the need for more urgent progress around the post-16 transition experience.

It was recognised that plans have been developed to address the issues, but they are not yet fully in place.

Coun Dunn added: “This isn’t mission accomplished. The council will carry on listening and acting on the feedback from children and their families to improve provision and put their health, happiness and wellbeing first.”