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(UK) Bucks: >1 year wait for ASD assessment; "officials unable to keep up with demand"

April 29, 2022, Bucks Herald: Ofsted demands statement of action from Bucks Council addressing 'significant areas of weakness' in Send services

SE England Ofsted has issued Bucks Council with a Written Statement of Action (WSOA) order for the quality of its SEND services. SEND refers to children with special educational needs and/or disabilities, a particular area of concern is the extensive wait times families face in Bucks trying to discover whether their children are autistic. The report which is based on inspections conducted at schools in the county between 28 February and 11 March 2022, states the council has a “lack of a cohesive area strategy to identify and meet the needs of those children and young people requiring speech and language, communication and occupational therapy.” Beyond autism diagnoses, Ofsted wants to see an improvement in the waiting times families face for assessments on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Inspectors want to see clear system-owned plans in place to address this. While the council acknowledged a need for improvement, officials were pleased with the areas of strength listed in the report. It lists identifying the needs of children and young people with SEND, education centre’s ability to meet the needs of these students and the capability to ensure positive outcomes as strengths. Councillor Anita Cranmer said: “We do know that for too many children, young people and their families, we do still fall short of what they deserve and I want to reassure them that we are not shying away from the crucial areas where sometimes much improvement is still required…. Ofsted’s findings show that the average waiting time to see a community paediatrician remain at 62 weeks. The report states, “this is not acceptable.” Ofsted found this issue predates the pandemic, but has worsened with officials unable to keep up with demand in the county. Similarly damning, the average wait time for assessments on diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is 559 days. The longest wait recorded was 811 days….


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