Reinspection date for Central Beds' troubled special educational needs and disabilities provision announced

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission want to check on SEND progress

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 2:33 pm

A reinspection of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision in Central Bedfordshire is set for next month, after a highly critical report in 2019.

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have announced they plan to return to check on progress made in the Central Bedfordshire local area from Monday, July 4 to Wednesday, July 6.

Their joint findings included a demand for a written statement of action “because of significant areas of weakness in the local area’s SEND practice”.

Protestors lined up pairs of shoes to represent each child without a SEND place

An action plan of service improvements was drawn up in response by SEND offer providers Central Bedfordshire Council and the BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group.

The pace of change has been criticised by parents, with the Central Bedfordshire SEND Action Group staging a protest outside the council’s Chicksands headquarters over a lack of SEND school places.

They lined up 52 pairs of shoes outside the building, one for each child without a place for last September.

There will be two inspectors, one from Ofsted and the other from the CQC, according to a letter to parents in an online CBC SEND news bulletin from the local authority’s director of children services Sarah-Jane Smedmor.

“The inspection includes all education, health and care services for children and young people in Central Bedfordshire with SEND,” she explained.

“Our last local area SEND inspection was in November 2019 and resulted in a written statement of action for six areas of significant weakness.

“The focus of the revisit is only on these areas of concern, which are:

> education health and care plans (EHCPs) of insufficient quality to ensure the needs of children and young people are identified and met;

> leaders lacking sufficient oversight of the quality of new EHCPs;

> area leaders in education, health and care have no shared understanding of the outcomes they want for children and young people with SEND;

> no clear SEND strategy for the area;

> co-production not well informed by the views of children, young people and their families;

> and the local offer is ineffective.

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“Since the inspection, we’ve undertaken significant work with parent carers, partners and other stakeholders to make improvements for children and young people with SEND.

“Ofsted and the CQC are keen to gain the views of our parent carers, as this will help shape their understanding of our progress as a local area.

Inspectors will be undertaking some visits to providers, and speak to practitioners and officers during their visit.

“There will be further information from the inspection team about how parent carers can get involved.”

If the local authority has made sufficient progress in addressing all of the areas of significant weakness, the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England will stop making their formal quarterly support and challenge visits.

If the local area is making insufficient progress in addressing any of the areas of significant weakness, it is for the DfE and NHS England to determine next steps.

CBC and the CCG will receive the final version of the revisit letter within 28 days.