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(UK) Suffolk: Call for commission to run SPED services; council failing disabled students

May 3, 2022, East Anglian Daily Times: Call for Whitehall to take over Suffolk SEND service

SE England

Special educational needs campaigners in Suffolk have met with Government education officials to call for a commissioner to take over the running of Suffolk’s SEND service.

Campaign for Change (Suffolk SEND) members met with the Department for Education on Friday, where they outlined their concerns about special educational needs and disabilities provision at Suffolk County Council.

Campaigners urged the secretary of state to install a commissioner to oversee the running of the county council’s team, to help drive improvements…..

"Urgent action is required to provide competent SEND leadership at the council and ensure that the law on SEND is complied with. At the moment, current council leaders are throwing good money after bad, spending £250k on management consultants whilst children languish without the special education provision that the law guarantees them.

“We hope that any proper investigation will show that leadership change is required and we will be writing to the secretary of state again to demand his intervention.”

Another meeting of the group with the DfE is set to take place this autumn…. The campaign group claims statutory duties are not being met, exposed in a number of Ombudsman findings in recent months.

It said only 54% of pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were getting their statutory annual review, and claimed that hundreds of SEND youngsters were being left without suitable full-time education.

The council has embarked on an improvement plan following the independent Lincolnshire Review. In its latest update of work since January, the council says it has recruited 13 family services officers and an educational psychologist – with a further two education psychologists set to join in September.

Elsewhere, it has begun work to recruit another 20 new employees in the team thanks to a £1.1million [$1.4M] uplift in the service’s budget, additional training for SEND decision making was held in April and ‘time to listen’ events were carried out in March to hear directly from parents.

Work already underway included improvement to its IT systems, recruitment of a specialist SEND lawyer and ambitions to review how EHCP plans are implemented.


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