Local areas to get more notice of SEND inspections

Local areas will have a longer notice period of inspections so that parents and others have greater opportunity to contribute their views and experiences.

Proposals to inspect local areas’ responsibilities to children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) have received overwhelming support. Today (Thursday 10 March 2016) the response document shows that around 2,000 responses were made to the Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) public consultation. Overall, almost 90% were supportive of the proposals, which are designed to help raise service standards for some of the most vulnerable young people in England.

As a result of the feedback, Ofsted and the CQC have decided to extend the notice period for inspections from the proposed 2 to 5 days. That will ensure all partners, especially young people, parents and carers, have ample opportunity to offer their views about local education, health and social care services, and fully engage in the inspection.

From May, inspectors will visit local areas to see how they are fulfilling their responsibilities.

They will do this by:

  • assessing how well the local area identifies children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities
  • evaluating how effectively the local area meets the needs and improves the outcomes of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities
  • using a wide range of information to evaluate how effectively the local area fulfils its responsibilities
  • talking to children and young people, and their parents and carers, and local partners, including nurseries, schools, colleges and specialist services

Inspectors will assess how SEND services are being delivered through the wide range of partners in the local area, including nurseries, schools, further education colleges, and through health and care services.

Joanna Hall, Ofsted Deputy Director for Schools, said:

I am pleased that there is overwhelming support for our proposals to inspect services for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in England. We have listened and will give parents and carers more notice of our inspections so that they can offer their views and insights.

I believe that the inspections will help local areas improve the services they deliver to children and young people with special educational needs or disability. These inspections will also provide reassurance to families, children and young people that local areas are being held to account.

I have no doubt that there will be some hard truths to deliver from the first inspections this summer. However, I want to stress that our inspection reports will also highlight effective practice. It is my hope that other local areas will learn from examples of how things can be done well so that there will be a long-term cultural change in the way these services are delivered.

Steve Field, Care Quality Commission Chief Inspector of General Practice, said:

Children and young people with special educational needs have the right to access the support they need from local health services. This critical work will for the first time highlight whether these needs are being met and while there could be some uncomfortable truths coming out of this work, we also aim to shine a spotlight on those local areas that are performing well to help services improve nationally.

Ofsted and the CQC carried out 5 pilot inspections to test the proposed new inspection type.

Inspectors will be experienced SEND specialists. They, not the local areas, will choose who they speak to when they carry out their inspection work.

In coming weeks, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will prepare an inspection handbook and framework, which will be published before the first inspections take place in May.

     
   
   
 
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