Suffolk families to feed their Covid-19 experience into survey improving special educational needs provision

Judith Mobbs, assistant director for inclusion and skills at Suffolk County Council said Ofsted and CQC would be using...

Judith Mobbs, assistant director for inclusion and skills at Suffolk County Council said Ofsted and CQC would be using evidence from Suffolk as part of its SEND improvements survey from the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: SCC - Credit: Archant

Families in Suffolk have shared their experiences with health and education watchdogs as part of a national investigation into the impact of Covid-19 on youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – a survey which will then determine future improvements in education.

Suffolk County Council education cabinet member Mary Evans said some new families have come forward needing support during...

Suffolk County Council education cabinet member Mary Evans said some new families have come forward needing support during coronavirus. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission visited the county on October 13 and 14 to understand the experiences of families and youngsters during the coronavirus pandemic,assessing both the challenges and the positives.

Suffolk County Council was one of 18 local authorities which volunteered to join the survey, which, when completed in March next year, will form the backbone of improvement measures to the system.

Education chiefs in the county said that some new families needing support have emerged, while for others the pandemic helped.

Councillor Mary Evans, cabinet member for education, said: “They did some case study work because they were really keen to find the lived-experience.


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“They met with those families and quite frankly talked through the major issues.”

Mrs Evans said the council worked with Suffolk Parent Carer Network, which works to support families, to find the key issues.

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She added: “We had SPCN involved and they were saying as a result of some of the work they have had families coming forward who they didn’t know about before.

“Some were just about managing before but the whole lockdown experience has changed things for them.”

Judith Mobbs, assistant director for inclusion and skills at the county council said other families did not struggle so much.

“For some families and children lockdown has taken away difficulties,” she said.

“If you have a child who finds it difficult to attend school, it’s been easier.”

Once all of the visits have been completed, which are fact-finding missions rather than formal inspections, a national report will be published in the spring highlighting areas for improvement and areas which worked well, as part of a bid to strengthen SEND provision as a whole across the country.

SPCN has already been carrying out its own survey with families, which it will deliver to Ofsted and the CQC as part of the evidence in addition to this month’s visit.

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