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(UK) Bracknell Forest: "Damning report" on SPED services; parents 'exhausted' getting help

Oct 23, 2022, Berkshire Live: 'Exhausted' parents assured special educational needs services in Bracknell will get better

S. England

A council has admitted services for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities are ‘below the expected level.' A review of the Bracknell Forest Council's Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provisions was carried out by the education, skills and growth overview and scrutiny panel.

It follows an Ofsted report earlier this year that concluded there are “significant areas of weakness”. The council’s executive director for People, Grainne Siggins, said the services for children with SEND have “not been at the level” expected but are “committed” to making improvements “as quickly as possible”. The damning report described many parents as ‘feeling exhausted” at having to “continually fight” to be heard and have the needs of their children assessed and met. Michelle Hey, a parent of a SEND child who was involved in a parental meeting with Ofsted at the time, didn’t think any parents were happy with the delivery.

“Bracknell Forest are literally systematically failing our children,” she added. Another parent, Gemma McDonagh, described the services as an “absolute shambles".

The education watchdog insisted that a Written Statement of Action (WSOA) is required to address the issues. As part of the review, members of the overview and scrutiny panel visited six schools, spoke to several parents and carers, and interviewed a number of children and young people, as well as researching good practice in other local authorities….

The number of pupils with SEND increased to 1.37 million nationally in 2020. During the pandemic, the attainment gap between SEND and average attaining pupils increased nationally by over 20 per cent across all age groups. The chair of the education, skills and growth overview and scrutiny panel, Cllr Gill Birch, said the fact that the increased demand is also being seen on a local level meant the review was “essential”.

The panel will “continue to monitor” the issues in order to “strengthen services and support” provided for SEND children. “The demand on our services has been increasing in the past number of years and […] we now have a comprehensive plan on how these services will be improved to help meet these demands,” Ms Siggins said.

Bracknell Forest Council

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