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(UK) Stockport: Council starting to make special ed progress after "damning report"

Nov 23, 2022, Manchester Evening News: SEN children services declared ‘everyone’s business’ as watchdog finds council is making progress

NW England

Services for Stockport children with special educational needs and disabilities are making progress after watchdogs identified ‘serious areas of weakness’ in a damning report. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) uncovered numerous problems following an inspection in 2018 - noting that most parents had to ‘fight every step of the way’ to get help.

The local authority was ordered to come up with a ‘plan of action’ to improve its ‘inconsistent and variable’ SEND services, with bosses admitting big changes were needed. But a new report from the regulators finds the council is now largely on the right track - albeit one of the five areas of weakness is still to make ‘sufficient progress’.

It praises bosses for being ‘bold in their decision making’, adding that they ‘have not shied away from solving complex problems’. The report adds: “Leaders across education, health and social care understand the needs and outcomes of their children and young people well now.

“Leaders are honest in their evaluation of the progress that has been made since the previous inspection and the work still to be done. They recognise that, so far, some of the actions that they have taken have not impacted on the lived experience of some children, young people and their families.”…

This is said to have made a ‘positive difference to health and education’ - resulting in reduced waiting times for occupational therapy and fewer suspensions and exclusions from school.

Bosses are also looking ahead, and ‘have drawn up long-term plans so that they will be better prepared to meet the likely future needs of children and young people with SEND’.

However, the council was found not to have made sufficient progress in respect of its ‘failure to assess and meet children’s social care needs in conjunction with EHC (education, health and care) assessments and plans’.

“Too often, parents are simply advised to refer to the local offer to find any services that they might need. This means that some children and young people and their families do not get the help and support that they need and are entitled to.”…

Councillor Wendy Meikle, cabinet member for children, families and education said the report was ‘testament to the hard work’ put into turning the service around. "I’m thrilled that we have shown significant improvement in almost all areas: this demonstrates how far we have come since the last visit in 2018,” she said in an official statement….

“I look forward to working closely with officers and fellow members to continue to improve our SEND offer and further create opportunities for all of our young people across Stockport.”


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