West Berkshire Council

Positive report following SEND inspection for services in West Berkshire

Services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) have been praised following a recent inspection.

Child reading

The inspection was carried out in May by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission. Inspectors found that parents were very positive about the support that their children receive and much of this was attributed to the strong leadership of SEND in the area and the high aspirations for children. Many parents felt that professionals went out of their way to offer help.

Inspectors spoke with children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, parents and carers, local authority and National Health Service (NHS) staff. They also visited a range of providers and spoke to the leaders, staff and governors about how they are implementing the SEND Reforms.

The inspectors said that, "The work of leaders and professionals in West Berkshire is driven successfully by their genuine and shared desire to do their best for children and young people who have SEN and /or disabilities."

Inspectors found that outcomes for children with SEND were good, there were high quality services for children with SEND and a good range of training available for schools and settings.

They also found good collaboration between leaders/agencies with leaders having a good understanding of strengths and weaknesses and where outcomes were not as expected, they took action to address these. For example, inspectors noted that exclusions from school of children with SEND had reduced as a result of a successful exclusion reduction strategy.

There was also found to be a strong focus on preparation for adulthood of young people with SEND and there was evidence of increased access to employment.

Health and Education practitioners were found to work closely together and, in many cases, provided quick access to services such as speech and language drop in sessions. Those children with complex needs were well supported by the Social Care Disabled Children's Team (DCT).

Education, Health and Care Plans for children with SEND were said to reflect children's needs well and performance on the statutory timescales was very good, with almost all Plans being issued on time.

Inspectors also commented on good joint commissioning of services, strong involvement of parents in strategic planning, and evidence that the local area responds to changing needs, for example, through the creation of the Emotional Health Academy.

There were some areas for improvement including the waiting times for Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS), especially those awaiting an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assessment, which is a national issue.

Some educational settings and professionals were found to need a greater understanding of the needs of children with ASD and SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) issues.

Also, The Local Offer website was not well known by some parents with a number insufficiently aware of the SEN & Disability information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) and Parent Forum.

All of these issues had already been identified as areas for development by the Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and will be addressed through the joint Council /Health SEND Strategy for 2018-2023 (currently out for consultation).

West Berkshire Council's Executive Member for Children, Education and Young People, Lynne Doherty, said: "We are delighted that this report is overwhelmingly positive and recognises the hard work and commitment of staff in the Council, in Health and in our schools. As a Council, one of our priorities is to help our most vulnerable residents and this report acknowledges the work we are doing to support them.

"Whilst we are thrilled with the excellent outcome of this inspection, we are certainly not complacent. We know that, like all local areas, we have areas for development and we take these very seriously. We are confident that through continued partnership working with parents and with our colleagues in Health and in schools, we can continue to improve services and outcomes for children with SEND in West Berkshire."

You can read the full report here. 

West Berkshire Council is currently consulting on its new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Strategy which sets out the vision and direction for the SEND services over the next five years. Its aim is for West Berkshire to be a place where every child or young person with SEND has a chance to succeed and where no one gets left behind.

To have your say, visit the Draft Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) 2018-2023 consultation pages before the 20 July 2018.