July 31, 2020, Ludlow and Tenbury Wells Advertiser: Pledge to turn around failing SEND services https://www.ludlowadvertiser.co.uk/news/18620435.pledge-turn-around-failing-send-services/ Midlands COUNCIL and health bosses have pledged to turn around failing special needs and disability services for Shropshire’s children following a damning inspectors’ report earlier this year. Shropshire Council and the county’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have been given until September 25 to draw up a statement of action outlining how they will address six areas of significant concern identified by health and education inspectors in January. But a meeting of the council’s performance management scrutiny committee heard on Wednesday that many of the issues had been raised numerous times in recent years, with little action taken towards rectifying them. Giving an update on progress since the report was issued by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in March, Karen Bradshaw, the council’s director of children’s services, said: “What I would point out is that the inspection noted that our self-evaluation had identified the key areas the inspection team also identified. “That is a positive thing,that means that we know the areas that we need to improve. There were no surprises.” The inspection was carried out in January to assess whether legally required disability and special needs reforms were being implemented successfully in the county. It found leadership across the area was “weak” and that children were waiting too long for assessments for autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, as well as speech and language therapy. It was also critical of the inconsistent input of various services into children’s education, health and care (EHC) plans, and the high rate of school exclusions among children with special needs and disabilities…. But members of the committee expressed disappointment that it had taken such a critical report to get the ball rolling. Councillor Karen Calder said: “This was being picked up four to five years ago by the Health and Wellbeing Board and still it wasn’t dealt with. “The gaps were still there, and everything was falling through those gaps. It’s being picked up now at this final stage of this inspection. I think it’s a great shame that it had to come to that…. Councillor Joyce Barrow said it was “like de ja vu”, with past promises made by the CCG failing to result in improvements. On the report, Councillor Barrow said: “The main findings make really depressing reading. I think in particular it is damning for the CCG. “I think Shropshire Council is trying to do its best, but from the report it is being let down by the CCG.” Ms Parker said she accepted that the CCG had not “stepped up to the plate”. She said: “I have got a huge commitment and background of working in children’s and young people’s services – in my previous CCG we turned around SEND in a really challenging area and I am determined to do the same in Shropshire. “What I can do is give a commitment and that’s why I signed up to the statement of intent to start to develop those relationships and make sure we out our money where our moth is and start to deliver on some of the actions in the report. “One of the things I have agreed with Karen is that we will try not to look back too much now, we will move forward. That’s not dismissing what’s happened in the past but using it as a platform for how to do things better. “I hope that in six months’ time when the written statement of action is published and we come back to be held to account for the actions that we have gone through that we can really see a difference.” Councillor Wild proposed that the joint health overview and scrutiny committee and people scrutiny committee should also examine the work being done to improve SEND services.