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(UK) Kent: Council apologizes for failing special needs students

Nov 9, 2022, Kent County Council: Council and health bosses apologise for continued failure to meet the needs of SEND children in Kent

SE England

The Leader of Kent County Council (KCC) and the Chief Nurse of the NHS in Kent and Medway have issued a heartfelt apology after a critical report into how the local area – KCC, NHS Kent and Medway and local schools and other settings – provide support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the county.

Following an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2019 nine areas of weakness were identified.

A written statement was submitted by KCC and NHS Kent and Medway as the accountable authorities which promised swift actions and that a new strategy would be implemented to improve support for children and young people with SEND and regain the trust of parents, carers and families.

However, a follow up visit by Ofsted and CQC in September 2022 found that the local area has ‘not made sufficient progress’ in addressing the weaknesses previously identified.

Between 27 and 29 September inspectors spoke with children and young people with SEND, parents and carers, representatives from the parent/carer forum Parents and Carers Together (PACT), school leaders representing educational provision across the area and local authority and NHS staff.

They examined a range of information about the performance of the area in addressing the nine significant weaknesses identified during the initial 2019 inspection, including the area’s repositioning statement and self-evaluation.

The report found that the local area had not made sufficient progress in addressing the areas first identified in the 2019 report….

“Since the last inspection three years ago, we have not made enough progress to the improvements that those who rely upon us deserve.

“We will look to the approaches that we have taken in Children’s Services, which led to that service being rated as Outstanding by Ofsted earlier this year. We now need to apply those strengths to our SEND provision, with children’s needs and rights at the centre of everything we do as we move forward.

“While there are a range of encouraging comments in the report about certain aspects of the service, it would not be right to dwell on them now, but they are nevertheless aspects that we can build on in the future.”…

Dame Eileen Sills, the recently appointed Chief Nurse of the NHS Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board said: “We are truly sorry that the NHS continues to fail too many children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Kent.

“We can also understand the frustration and anger felt by parents, carers and families in Kent revealed by this report. Many of the stories are heart-breaking. It should not be so hard to get the help needed especially as we know the Covid pandemic has already put additional pressures on people’s mental health….


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