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Letter from Ofsted - September 2020

Ofsted
Agora
6 Cumberland Place
Nottingham
NG1 6HJ

www.gov.uk/ofsted
lasend.support@ofsted.gov.uk

25 September 2020

Ms Sara Tough, Executive Director of Children’s Services, Norfolk County Council
Ms Melanie Craig, Accountable Officer, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group

Norfolk County Council
County Hall
Martineau Lane
Norwich
Norfolk
NR1 2DH

Copied to: Ms Lisa Flood-Powell, Inspection and Development Project Officer, Local Area Nominated Officer

Dear Ms Tough and Ms Craig

This letter is written in accordance with The Children Act 2004 (Joint Area Reviews) Regulations 2015 to inform Norfolk area and the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), as principal authorities, that Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have jointly evaluated the written statement of action submitted to us on 11 September 2020.

The statement of action is deemed to be fit for purpose in setting out how the area will tackle the significant areas of weakness identified in the published report letter.

Area leaders have worked with an urgency and commitment to create a well thought out and precise plan. The plan focuses sharply around the three significant areas of weakness identified in March 2020. There are associated action plans and key performance indicators that provide the quantitative foundation behind many of the plan’s core actions. This level of detail provides those responsible for governance with clear success criteria at each milestone to hold leaders to account, especially over the next 18 months.

There is a strong focus on a multi-agency approach in all aspects of the plan to make sure that all agencies contribute fully to improvements for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). This is particularly evident in well-developed lines of accountability for each action. Throughout the plan, area leaders have identified a delivery team, a lead agency, a sponsoring director, and an action lead. There is a good range of professionals from social care, education and health who are working collectively to deliver these joint actions.

The joint approach being taken to address the areas of significant weakness is explicit in the plan. This is shown by the effort made to co-produce the plan with stakeholders, for example through well-considered and focused workshops with a range of parent/carer groups. It is also noteworthy that leaders have worked collectively and creatively to achieve the collaboration despite the challenges to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Area leaders’ response to weaknesses in co-production and communication is very well considered in Part C of the plan. While the plan focuses on aspects such as the local offer, the self-service portal and joint commissioning, there are also specific actions related to relationship management with the wider Norfolk community. This section focuses on pro-active methods to be adopted by area leaders to engage and re-gain the trust of families, and the children and young people with SEND. These actions focus on how leaders can develop a greater level of transparency in their communication with families. Wider actions also include the new youth forum and liaison with local special educational needs coordinators. This level of planning provides a solid foundation for area leaders to tackle the serious weakness relating to co-production and communication.

The written statement of action must be published on local websites (see Regulation 4 (5)), so that parents, carers, children and young people can understand the actions you are taking to improve the effectiveness of the area in identifying and meeting needs and improving outcomes for children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Yours sincerely

Paul Brooker
Ofsted Regional Director, East of England

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