Council's proposed SEND review 'completely misses key issue' say parents
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Parent campaigners for special educational needs services in Suffolk say a review of how parents are kept informed does not go far enough.
At the weekend, Suffolk County Council confirmed it would carry out an independent review of its communication to parents within the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) service.
It said that would be handled by a senior professional with no direct links to the authority, and focus on the family-facing elements of the service and communication protocols.
But in a fresh letter to all councillors sent after the announcement, the Campaign for Change (Suffolk SEND) group of 330 parents, carers and supporters has demanded a more thorough review.
The letter said that parents have "listened with alarm to recent radio interviews with senior councillors. It is clear that the key issue with SEND in Suffolk is not understood by our elected representatives".
Chief concerns raised by the group were that Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were not always implemented correctly - with some not containing any specific provision at all; instances of requests for education, health and care needs assessments being refused; and dozens of SEND pupils being on part-time timetables or excluded.
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The letter added: "Whilst SCC communication and administrative processes for SEND are terrible, a so-called ‘independent’ review into these aspects alone completely misses the key issue with SEND in Suffolk.
"For this reason we call on all councillors to publicly support our demand for an independent legal audit of SCC SEND practises, cases and training with terms of reference agreed with us.
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"Only a properly independent expert such as solicitor or barrister will give parents any confidence that SCC understands the depths of its problems. It is clear to parents and carers that repeated Ofsted inspection failures have not led to change. Now is the time to act."
A spokeswoman from Suffolk County Council said: “We know that every parent and carer wants the best for their children, especially when it comes to education and care. Suffolk County Council wants the same and must strive to provide the very best services we can.
“We are currently finalising the details of this review, but it will be immediate, in depth and independent. The findings will help us to understand our strengths and weaknesses and identify any changes that need to be made.
“We want to reassure parents and carers that this is a priority and that whilst we might not agree with some on the route to getting there, we will make improvements where they are needed as quickly as possible.”