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Town’s progress with children with special educational needs

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A NEW report on Warrington’s arrangements for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been published.
Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) had a joint inspection team in the borough for a week and evaluated progress made in Warrington since the launch of reforms made in 2014, to extend support from birth to the age of 25 years.
Inspectors highlighted the praise that children and young people had for schools for “adapting to their needs”, and also found that “parents and carers were glowing about the support offered by special, mainstream, maintained and independent schools.”
The inspection report was followed up by a letter from Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, who said he was “pleased to read about the many positive findings for Warrington, including the strong leadership in the area, effective joint working and commissioning arrangements, and the very high levels of satisfaction expressed by children, young people and families with the services available to them.”
Further areas of good progress highlighted included:
* Warrington’s new SEND strategy, which seeks to ensure that ‘the right services get to the right children at the right time’.
* Effective, close working between education, health and care services.
* The increasing influence of families in the design and implementation of plans and services, with the work of the Warrington Parents and Carers Group particularly valued.
* The early identification of children’s needs well before they start school, leading to the provision of appropriate and effective support through a co-ordinated multi-agency approach.
* The establishment of effective systems to build the skills and expertise of school staff.
However, the inspectors also found areas for improvement.
Children and young people had not always had timely access to specialist equipment. Some children had been forced to wait too long for vital equipment such as wheelchairs.
Work to prepare young people for adulthood had not always been effective, leading to “very mixed outcomes”.
Children and young people had not benefited from a consistent and co-ordinated approach to independent travel training, exacerbating weaknesses that exist in relation to young people accessing appropriate education employment or training.
The clinical commissioning group (CCG) did not consistently take swift and effective action to address area of known weakness in the services it commissioned.
Warrington Borough Council’s lead member for children’s services, Cllr Jean Carter, said the report showed that a huge amount of work was being done to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND
“I’m proud of the findings of the inspection, which are testament to the commitment of our team to support young people and their families, and ensure they get the right services, at the right time.
“Equally, the praise we’ve received from Ofsted and the CQC, as well as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, shows that we have adapted well to change and that our plans embrace the spirit of the SEND reforms. I’m confident that we are in a strong position to continue improving the quality and effectiveness of our services further in the future.”
Jean Fitzpatrick, chairman of Warrington Parents and Carers Group, said: “We had a very high level of involvement in the inspection.  We felt it was important that parents, carers, children and young people were represented, listened to and all their feedback taken into consideration.
“We will continue to bring the ‘Voice’ of Warrington’s families to the strategic table, working alongside the professionals to address the areas for development highlighted in the report.”
The report can be read in full at reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/44/877
Warrington partners will be discussing the findings of the report and the next steps at the 2019 Working Together Conference on Friday March 19. To get involved, contact Warrington Parents and Carers Forum at warringtonparentsandcarers.org

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