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(UK) Worcestershire: Mom demands probe into SPED failures

Jun 6, 2022, Redditch & Alcester Advertiser: Worcestershire families demand investigation into children's services over SEND failures

W. Midlands

A LONG-SUFFERING mum is leading calls demanding an independent investigation into the county’s failing services for children with special needs.

Elena Round wants Worcestershire Children First, which runs children’s services on behalf of Worcestershire County Council, to be investigated over its record of failings and treatment of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Mrs Round, from Worcester, said she and her family will never recover from the years of battling with the county council to secure vital support and therapy for her 18-year-old son Billy, who has complex needs and struggles to carry out everyday tasks such as getting dressed, washing and eating.

Billy already had a legally binding education, health and care plan (EHCP) before moving to Worcestershire in 2018 but was then unlawfully denied physical and occupational therapy by the county council.

A petition has been set up requesting an urgent investigation into the county’s children’s services over the failure to provide support and therapy to hundreds of families and for the stress and anxiety the local authority has caused.

Mrs Round said that despite being told by the council that her son Billy’s distress was an “isolated case” the hundreds of similar stories of suffering she has heard from families across Worcestershire she fears the SEND crisis could be akin to the Shrewsbury maternity scandal which saw a string of catastrophic failures lead to the deaths of more than 200 babies....

“There are hundreds and hundreds of families who are suffering terrible things. Children are not getting placements, there are children not getting the therapies they need and the local authority gets away with it because they can. They are not accountable to anyone.”

Mrs Round said children’s services appeared to be in “disarray” and was a “complete mess.”

“We are hearing stories from staff that are saying that it is a sinking ship there,” she added....

“I will take it to Downing Street. Something will come out. Whether that’s in six months, twelve months or in five years, something will come out. Somebody will come and do a review and they will ask why nobody said anything at the time so at least I can say that I tried. That’s what I’m doing it.”

Tina Russell, chief executive of Worcestershire Children First, said she understood how “serious and frustrating” it was for families and was committed to ‘driving’ improvements at pace.

“We have been working alongside the Department for Education to ensure our Accelerated Progress Plan refocuses us in the way we are approaching working with parents and carers and ensuring progress for children with special educational needs," she said in a statement.

"We are implementing our Quality Assurance framework in SEND and this will enable us across the multi-agency SEND partnership to have a regular overview not only of key performance indicators but also the experiences of parents and carers and the quality of the assessments and plans being created as we look to move forward....


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