Schools set to get specialist units to be confirmed this autumn

Anne Humphrys from SPCN said parents in their day-to-day experience had not noticed any changes. Pic

Anne Humphrys from SPCN said parents in their day-to-day experience had not noticed any changes. Picture: SPCN - Credit: Archant

The day to day experience for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has yet to change more than six months after a damning report, according to campaigners.

Suffolk County councillor Jack Abbott Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk County councillor Jack Abbott Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council's SEND service was given a damning inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission earlier this year, resulting in the authority requiring regular meetings with the Department for Education and NHS England.

Following the latest meeting last month, the council was told its action plan was more focused but the measurement for the quality of education health and care plans (EHCPs) needed clarity.

Suffolk Parent Carer Network which works with families, said there had been significant work with the strategy that would deliver positive changes, but added: "The impact of these have not yet been fully felt by families.

"Through our joint working, we have also been part of securing significant additional investment into SEND provision which will increase the number of specialist placements available and allow more children and young people to have the educational provision they need closer to home.

"We do know through feedback from our members since the SEND re-visit by Ofsted and the CQC that the lived experience for many families has not yet changed and some remain unable to access the services that they need.

"Our annual Parent Carer Satisfaction Survey will go live next month and the results of this will be available in time for the next monitoring meeting with the DfE and NHS England.

"It is vital that every family who has a child or young person with SEND takes the time to complete the survey as it enables us to show whether or not things have improved for families in Suffolk over the last 12 months."

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A £45million plan to create more than 800 new SEND places has already been announced by the council, which includes three new special schools and a series of specialist units attached to mainstream schools.

The latest council report said that expressions of interest to house a specialist unit will close in the middle of this month, with the council and SPCN deciding on which 11 will provide the units in late September or early October.

Labour education spokesman Jack Abbott said: "It is encouraging that there has been some progress in implementing the cross-party recommendations regarding new SEND places - I was pleased to have helped deliver these proposals and am looking forward to seeing them come to fruition in the coming years.

"However, the situation here and now regarding EHCPs and ASD remains a major concern, as does the devastatingly high number of pupils with SEND who are being excluded from education.

"In short, the lived experiences of children and families are still not getting better. We are more than half a year on from that devastating report, but there is clearly a long, long way still to go to getting Suffolk's SEND provision to where it needs to be."

The DfE and NHS England said that progress was being made and were confident that Suffolk remained committed to SEND improvements.

A spokesman from Suffolk County Council has been approached for comment.

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