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(UK) Tameside: SPED "heavily criticised"; "poor quality support" "excessive" waiting

Jan 13, 2022, Manchester Evening News: Services for children with special needs heavily criticised by watchdogs https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/services-children-special-needs-heavily-22726888

NW England

Services for children with special needs in Tameside have been heavily criticised by watchdogs after inspectors found ‘unacceptable’ levels of parent dissatisfaction. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a joint inspection to examine how the council and clinical commissioning group were implementing reforms for youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Following their visit, inspectors have ordered the strategic authority to complete a written statement of action to state how it will tackle ‘significant areas of weakness’ in its practice. Ofsted and the CQC have warned that too many children and young people in Tameside are being let down by poor quality support in the borough, and this is ‘detrimental to their future’…. “For too many children, young people and their families, drift and delay have led to needs escalating and poor outcomes across education, health and care.” Foremost amongst their findings and criticism was that the ‘high levels of parental dissatisfaction are unacceptable’. The watchdogs stated that parents felt there was a ‘postcode lottery’ in terms of the quality of provision being provided in different schools, with some being seen as a ‘golden ticket’. Additionally some parents say they felt pressured to pay privately for specialist assessments to have their child’s needs recognised, the report states. “Parents feel very frustrated and let down by the local area,” inspectors said…. Parents described the process of getting support for their child as feeling like ‘jumping through hoops’, being told paperwork they complete is wrong, and paperwork also being lost. “Parents and professionals alike are frustrated by the excessive waiting lists for services,” the report states. “Too often, requests for services are not acknowledged, important paperwork goes missing, assessments have to be repeated and the voice of the parent and child is lost.” Ofsted and the CQC were also critical of the quality and timeliness of education, health and care (EHC) assessments, which they judged are ‘poor’…. “These plans often do not accurately reflect the education, health and social care needs of children and young people,” inspectors say. “Weaknesses in the plans, and the time it takes to implement them has meant that some children have not had support when starting school.”… “Since 2018, leaders have established a clear and accurate view of the area’s strengths and weaknesses,” they say. “They have drawn up suitable plans to resolve endemic issues. It is early days….