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(UK) Devon: County council's "failing children's services"

Aug 4, 2022, Cornish and Devon Post: Children’s services warning for Devon County Council https://www.thepost.uk.com/news/childrens-services-warning-for-devon-county-council-557938

SW England The government will “run out of patience” with Devon County Council if its failing children’s services don’t improve over the next year.

Leader John Hart’s admission comes after a damning report last month threatened government intervention into the county’s services for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The county council and NHS Devon, who work together to run SEND services, both apologised after the report found no progress has been made in improving four areas of “significant concern” identified in 2018.

A separate report, published last week, also revealed progress remains ‘slow’ in improving the council’s children’s services department, which was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in January 2020….

He added: “We are not improving; I think that’s what disturbs me. We do not appear to be improving, even though we have put an awful lot of time, effort and money into it. That’s why we’re having a fresh start at it, linked with NHS, because this time the NHS have been targeted in with us.

“I’m very sorry for the children that have been failed by the Devon system. I do think we are reshaping, reorganising, redoing things, and we’ve got to improve the service.”…

She acknowledged the problems with SEND provision – including a lack of understanding strategy, poor communication and a need to improve autism support – but said the department’s new leadership has “not had sufficient time … to get on top of those issues, grapple with them and take it forward.”…

He says a shortage of skilled staff is one of the problems, with the council currently relying on a number of agency workers. To encourage them to stay, it is introducing ‘golden handcuffs’ bonuses to reward loyalty….

Cllr John Hart, chair of Team Devon and leader of Devon County Council (Image: Daniel Clark) (Daniel Clark )

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