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Typically positive experiences and outcomes for SEND children in Dorset

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A recent Ofsted and CQC inspection found that children and young people in Dorset who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have typically positive experiences and outcomes.

The local area partnership inspection took place over three weeks in March and involved staff from Dorset Council, NHS Dorset and education settings as well as many families. The inspection was a joint inspection of both Dorset Council as the local authority and NHS Dorset as the local health care provider.

The inspectors reviewed hundreds of pieces of information and spoke to young people and their families as well as practitioners working in children’s services, health care and in education settings.

The inspection report stated that the local area partnership’s special educational needs and/or disability (SEND) arrangements typically lead to positive experiences and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

It went on to say that ‘Children and young people with SEND and their families are placed at the heart of all that leaders do... This culture of working together results in continual improvement to secure the best possible outcomes for children, young people and their families…The voice of children and young people with SEND is highly valued.’

A number of families took part in interviews with the inspectors and over a thousand partners, parents, carers and young people completed the survey that formed part of the inspection. The report found that ‘many parents and carers feel they are true partners when planning their own provision and improvements generally. Parents, carers, children and young people typically speak positively about how they are supported to have better experiences.’

There were a number of areas where the Local Area Partnership was found to be effective:

  • Leaders in Dorset are ambitious for children and young people with SEND and they ensure that every child or young person has their needs identified accurately and met consistently.
  • The established culture of collaborative working across the partnership is a real strength.
  • Children’s transition into school is a strength of the partnership. Practitioners in early years feel valued, heard and well-supported by the teams around them.
  • There is support in place for children and young people and their families when they are waiting on the neurodevelopmental pathway or sometimes for other assessments.
  • Children and young people can access early support for emotional health and wellbeing through a range of commissioned services provided by the local authority, local schools and the voluntary sector.

The inspection report also highlighted some areas for improvement:

  • Leaders across education, health and social care should strengthen their use of the robust qualitative and quantitative information they hold to evaluate the impact of their, often innovative, work to improve the outcomes for children and young people with SEND.
  • Leaders across the partnership should ensure that their quality assurance and annual review processes, particularly in relation to preparation for adulthood, are as robust, precise and of the same high-quality as seen in the more recent education, health and care plans.  

Councillor Clare Sutton, who will be appointed at the Annual Meeting of Dorset Council on 16 May as portfolio holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Help, said:

“I am pleased to see the results of the joint area inspection which took place earlier this year and I thank everyone across Dorset Council, our health and education colleagues, Dorset Parent Carer Council and other partners who have worked so hard to get this positive result.

“I know there is still more to do for Dorset families and I look forward to working closely with Children’s Services and other partners to carry on improving the services we deliver for families.”

Theresa Leavy, executive director for children’s services, said:

“We know our children and their families really well and we worked hard to make sure they all had a chance to have their views heard as part of the inspection, whether that was through the survey we sent out or whether it was through talking directly to the inspectors.

“It was particularly great to hear the voices of our young people recognised, as we work so hard to make sure they are at the centre of our work all the time.

“The inspectors heard very clearly how we do things here in Dorset and how we work together in partnership to wrap around our families to meet their needs. We work with many partners, but we want to thank Dorset Parent Carer Council in particular for coming along side us in our work every day to make sure we keep our families at the centre of all we do.

“The inspectors recognised our drive and commitment to improving things for our children and young people who have additional needs and whilst we are pleased with the result, we are absolutely not complacent. There is still work to be done and there are still children who are not having the lives we want them to have. So we go forward with ambition for our children and their families and humility in ourselves.”

Patricia Miller, Chief Executive NHS Dorset, said:

“We are delighted by the feedback we received from inspectors about how united our services are along with our ambition and dedication to the children and young people of Dorset and their families. 

“This is testament to the hard work of everyone involved and we would like to thank everyone in supporting our joint local area inspection, including parent carers and children and young people.  We recognise that we have more to do and further to travel to improve outcomes for our children and young people and will continue to work in partnership with Dorset Council and Dorset Parent Carer Council to reflect on further improvements we can make.”

Lesley Mellor, chair of the Dorset Parent Carer Council, said:

“The three weeks of inspection highlighted how Dorset Parent Carer Council as a group, are fundamental to the changes and improvements that are happening in Children's Services and Health.

“The recognition by all the inspectors of our involvement and strong partnership working and the acknowledgement we are all strengthening services for the future is welcome.”

Dorset Council is the first unitary authority to get this outcome from a local area SEND inspection under the new framework.

The full report can be found at the Ofsted website.

The SEND delivery plan can be found at: Your guide to Local Area Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Inspections - Dorset Council

Categories: Children's Services

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