“Widespread systemic failings” in Oxfordshire’s SEND provision


County Council Director says: “I am so sorry we have let families down”

The people in charge of providing a service for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children in Oxfordshire have apologised for letting families down, after “widespread systemic failings” were found during an inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in July.

Their report said not enough young people are getting access to the education provision they need in the county.   It also criticized the quality of health care plans, said families felt they were not being listened to and noted outcomes were very dependant on who dealt with a case.

In July, just 43 per cent of SEND assessments in the county were being processed within the statutory timeframes.

Local SEND services are provided by Oxfordshire’s Local Area Partnership.   This comprises Oxfordshire County Council, the NHS Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Areas identified for improvement included:

  • Agencies within the local area partnership need to work cohesively to ensure that children and young people get the right help at the right time.
  • Too many children and young people are unable to access the education provision they need; and while many schools prioritise transition work, when there are delays to decision making and naming suitable placements, this work is undone.
  • The inspection recognised that the timeliness of education, health and care plans has recently improved, but frequently they do not describe the child or young person accurately enough to ensure that their needs are met effectively.

Stephen Chandler, Oxfordshire County Council’s Interim Executive Director, People, Transformation and Performance, said: “I am so sorry we have let families down. We fully and unequivocally accept the findings of this report. We must and will do better together as a partnership.

“We are urgently focusing our efforts to address the concerns raised. To do this, we want to develop a joint action plan together with parents and carers of young people with SEND as well as with other support and advocacy organisations.

“We also want to build on the strengths identified in the inspection, which we cannot do without our teams of dedicated professionals who continue to be committed to improving the experiences of children and young people with SEND.

“We care deeply about improving the lives of children and young people and supporting them, along with their families, to thrive. We are determined to make significant changes so we can provide families with a better quality of service at the time they need it most.”

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, added: “I am so very sorry and disappointed we have not been delivering SEND services across the partnership to the standard children and young people need and deserve.

“We are listening and we will act urgently to deliver significant improvements. I am confident that recent and ongoing appointments in senior roles will give us the necessary drive and focus to do this.”

The Partnership says that since Ofsted’s inspection it is building the right relationships together that will be needed to drive significant improvement to services. A number of personnel changes have been implemented at senior levels within Partnership organisations and recruitment for a permanent director of children services is underway at the County Council.

Dr Anny Sykes, Oxfordshire University Hospitals’ Interim Chief Medical Officer, said: “As a provider of acute hospital services for children living in Oxfordshire, we are committed to working closely with colleagues at Oxfordshire County Council, BOB ICB and Oxford Health to tackle the areas for priority action related to health, identified by the inspection in July, so that all children and young people with SEND have high quality care in our hospitals. We will all work closely with these children and young people, and their families so that we hear their voices clearly and reflect their views in the plans for improvement.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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