July 22, 2020, Oswestry & Border Advertiser: SHROPSHIRE Council leaders respond to SEND criticism https://www.bordercountiesadvertizer.co.uk/news/18599035.shropshire-council-leaders-respond-send-criticism/ (West Central England) URGENT work is underway to improve special needs and disability provision in Shropshire, four months on from a critical regulators’ report. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission inspected the county’s services in January and found significant areas for improvement. A report by Shropshire Council children’s services director Karen Bradshaw will update councillors on progress since then in areas including speech and language therapy and autism assessment. The document, to be discussed by the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, July 20, reminds them that the report criticised weak strategic leadership which was most notable in the county’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Ms Bradshaw, who is also acting as joint chief executive of the council, writes: “Shropshire Council works in partnership with the CCG and other key stakeholders, including parents and carers, ensuring that the SEND (special education needs and disability) offer meets the needs of children and young people. “A joint SEND CQC and Ofsted inspection took place in Shropshire across education, health and social care between January 27 and 31.”… Ms Yates also wrote that “the current speech and language therapy [SaLT] service specification is not fit for purpose” with children and young people experiencing “significant waits for assessment and treatment”. She also said: “There is no effective pathway for specialist assessment of autism spectrum disorder [ASD] for children over five.” Despite some recent action, a large number of children were still awaiting assessment, Ms Yates added. … She also writes that commissioners are working to address the delays in ASD assessment as a matter of urgency, although funding streams remain an issue….