Ofsted and CQC publish Shropshire SEND report

6 February 2023

An Ofsted and CQC revisit to special education needs and disabilities (SEND) services in Shropshire has found sufficient progress has been made, in three out of six areas of significant weakness.

The revisit, which took place in November 2022, followed an initial inspection in 2020 of SEND services provided by Shropshire Council, NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, schools and other partners.

Inspectors looked at a range of information about the performance of Shropshire and considered the views of children, young people, parents and carers, education leaders, the parent carer forum and Shropshire’s Information and Advice Support Services as well as practitioners and workers from the Local Authority and NHS

The report published today by Ofsted and the CQC has found that Shropshire has made sufficient progress in the following three areas:

  • Strategic leadership and planning across the area, including the use of data to accurately commission and plan services. The report recognises that the strategic leadership has strengthened considerably despite the financial pressures, staff turnover and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The inclusion of health services’ input into the area’s SEND action plan. There is greater clarity of roles and responsibilities across education, health and social care and leaders work in partnership and have a keen focus on children and young people with SEND.
  • The rate of exclusions for children and young people with an EHC plan and the rate of fixed-term exclusions for those receiving SEND support. Leaders’ actions to address the high rate of exclusions and suspensions for children and young people with SEND across Shropshire have been successful. They have led to a significant number of exclusions being prevented since the last inspection.

Further progress is still required to address three outstanding areas. These include wait times for children and young people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnostic pathways; wait times for those needing assessment and treatment from the speech and language therapy services; and the quality of input from education, health and care into Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment and planning.

Councillor Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:

“We as a council are committed to empowering our young people to live their best lives. It’s our vision in our Shropshire Plan. We do this by delivering the best possible services that encourage healthy, fulfilling and independent lives, which in turn helps us to achieve our priorities; healthy people, healthy economy, healthy environment and healthy organisation.

“Therefore, since the local area inspection, we have continued to work on our SEND priorities and have made a good start addressing the concerns identified by Ofsted and CQC in 2020.

“I was particularly pleased that the significant changes we’ve made with regards to our strategic leadership have been recognised. We have made huge steps to ensure that we are working better together, within the council and with our partners, ensuring that SEND is the golden thread through everything we do.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for the work and effort that has gone into improving these services this far. It’s good to hear that what we’re doing is making a real difference.

“However, to realise our vision, we know that we have more to do. We fully accept the findings in the report, and we will use it to drive the changes that we need to see.

“We have an action plan to address the three outstanding areas of concern and we will continue to work hard with partners, parents and children to ensure that those who rely on our support get a better experience.”

Gareth Robinson, Director of Delivery and Transformation for NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, said: “We agree that we have not made sufficient progress in the three outstanding areas of concern, and we are very sorry for the long waits being experienced by children, young people, and their families and carers.

“We continue to invest more in SEND provision and better services, this has included investing in capacity to improve EHC as well as strengthening our leadership, which , as recognised by the report, is successfully beginning to improve the SEND provision, across education, health and social care.

“However, we know there is much more we need to do. The progress we have made, and the changes we have made embedding SEND within leadership roles, means we can now focus our efforts on the delivery of services and the wider SEND programme.”

The report highlights that ‘while many strategic plans are at a very early stage of implementation, they are the right plans and provide a secure base on which to build on the emerging improvements thus far. The pace of change and improvements made by the strategic leadership team have particularly accelerated over the last 12 months.’

Gareth Robinson, continued: “We are and will remain fully committed to making the improvements needed and deserved by children, young people and their families in Shropshire to support them to live healthy, happy and full lives.”

The report also recognised that the involvement of the parent carer forum (Parent and Carer Council (PACC)) has increased at a strategic level.

A statement from the Parent and Carer Council Shropshire (PACC) said: “The SEND inspection revisit outcome was very well informed by Shropshire parent carers and their families’ experiences. The outcome reflects what both PACC, as a representative parent carer forum, and individual parent carers have shared with inspectors.

“We are pleased to see the inspectors recognise the challenges, and express concern that a refreshed focus should be applied to the quality of Education Health Care Plans, the Neurodevelopmental Assessment Services, and the Speech and Language Therapy Services.

“While there has been some progress made in some areas, the quality of the experience for many families remains far too varied and inconsistent for these not to remain key priorities.

“We cannot thank enough the many parent carers who took the time to share their experiences. As a representative organisation, we cannot influence change without your shared experience informing our discussions across the SEND system.”

A statement from Shropshire Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS) said: “The Shropshire IASS team welcomed the opportunity to be part of the Inspection process and to feed in our experience of the issues and concerns facing young people, their parents and carers.

“Our main concerns around post 16 provision, Quality of EHCPs, and clearer pathways for those with neurodevelopmental issues were reflected in the inspection report and we look forward to working with all our partners to improve these and the SEND support in Shropshire.”

Ofsted and CQC will not carry out any further revisit unless directed to do so by the Secretary of State. Any further steps required of Shropshire will be determined by the Department of Education and NHS England.

To read the report in full, please visit https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/

Page last updated 6 February 2023