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Inspectors say progress has been made in improving Norfolks SEND services

Norfolk County Council, 7 February 2023 00:00

Progress has been made in addressing weaknesses in support for children with SEND in Norfolk, according to a report published today.

Inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said Norfolk has determined and committed leaders, who respond to feedback, and active and effective parent carer groups.

These comments come two weeks after Ofsted judged Children's Services in Norfolk as good across the board and follows back-to-back visits from inspectors.

This latest report follows a revisit to the county in November by Ofsted/CQC to assess whether Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) had made sufficient progress in addressing three areas of significant weakness in services and support for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) identified by a full Area SEND Inspection in 2020.

These were: the timeliness of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs); supporting the transition to adult life of young people with SEND; and communication and co-production with families.

Children and young people with SEND were spoken to along with parents and carers, parent carer groups and council and ICB leaders. Inspectors also examined a number of EHCPs, improvement plans, and Norfolk's Area SEND strategy.

Cllr John Fisher, cabinet member for Norfolk County Council's Children's Services, said: "This SEND Ofsted/CQC report, coupled with our recent council Ofsted inspection, highlights our determination to continue to improve services for children and their families.

"Although we are delighted with the progress we've made with partners in addressing the identified weaknesses in our SEND services, we know the job is not done and we still need to do more.

"We have strong leadership in place and ambitious plans to further develop the support we provide to children with SEND and their families and the professionals who work with them."

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board, said: "It is a testament to the unwavering commitment of everyone, including from the children, young people and their families that we have managed to make progress.

"Our priority now is to continue to build on the improvements to ensure that Norfolk is a great place for all children and young people to fulfil their potential, be active within their communities and flourish."

Tracey Sismey, Chair of Family Voice Norfolk, which is the parent carer forum for children with SEND and their families, said: "We will continue to work with the council and the ICB to build upon the recommendations of the inspectors.

"Further improvements of services and support for families who have children and young people with SEND remain at our core."

Inspectors found leaders had acted with determination to address weaknesses in the timeliness of EHCPs, resulting in a significant improvement in the number of plans and annual reviews completed on time, despite an increase in requests for EHCPs. Those EHCPs not taking place within the required timeframe are now in the minority, they said.

Inspectors recognised additional EHCP co-ordinators had been recruited, with new training and a new quality assurance process, leading to better quality plans where needs are clearly identified, and the provision required to support them is more precise.

Better access to advice and support is being provide through a new EHCP telephone helpline, which is helping queries to be resolved earlier.

It was recognised delays still remain in the educational psychology service, which is impacting on the timeliness of EHCPs, despite leaders increasing capacity in the service and commissioning private educational psychologists' reports to reduce delays and backlogs.

Leaders were found to be committed to improving plans and provision for young people with SEND moving into adulthood, actively seeking their views through youth groups, schools, college, events and surveys, and were commissioning services and provision based on their needs and wants.

Inspectors said leaders have increased opportunities for young people with SEND to participate in meaningful work experience linked to their aspirations and the uptake of annual health reviews for those with learning disabilities has increased.

The report found relationships across the area SEND partnership have strengthened. Family Voice Norfolk, they said, was an effective champion for families and Norfolk SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) plays an active and effective role in informing families about the help and support available.

The Norfolk SEND Local Offer website, which inspectors said is increasingly being used by children, families and professionals, the Just One Norfolk website, Norfolk SEND Bulletin and Norfolk SEND Facebook page were all recognised as showing an improvement and increase in communication.

Find the full Ofsted/CQC revisit report and the original full inspection report on our Norfolk SEND Local Offer web pages. Find the further information about SEND services and support in Norfolk on, sign up for the Norfolk SEND Bulletin on the Norfolk SEND Local Offer website and follow the Norfolk SEND Facebook page.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:45

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