Inspections began in May 2016, and will see 152 local areas receive a visit as part of a five-year programme which aims to look at how education, health and social care services work together to support children with SEND and their families. This report, published today, highlights the strengths and areas for development which the inspectors identified during their visit to North Somerset.
During their time in the area, Inspectors met with young people, parents and carers to hear their views, as well as visiting schools, early years settings and health services. They also spoke with colleagues in the council and local health services to learn about how the area has responded to changes in the SEND system which were first introduced in September 2014.
While concerned that the local area has not made quick enough progress in implementing the changes set out in 2014, the inspectors found key areas where services were working well. They were particularly impressed with the services provided in the Early Years, and recognised the improvements in joint working between education, health and care services locally. They also noted that young people approaching adulthood were often achieving the skills and qualifications they needed to find the jobs or training they wanted.
Sheila Smith, Director for People and Communities said: “I’m pleased to receive this report – and while it shows that many services are working well to support young people with SEND, it also highlights that this is a long journey for us all in North Somerset and that we need to increase the pace. The findings of the inspection give us a helpful steer in how we can carry on improving things to ensure that all children benefit from a more joined-up system of support.
“We were clear with the inspection team about our area’s strengths and challenges and it is encouraging to see these reflected in the final report. We are also particularly pleased to see that the inspectors found much positive work happening directly with young people and their families – both in the community and in schools.
“Our next step will be to devise a written statement of action, which will detail how we’ll work to speed up the delivery of the reforms over the next year, and how we will address the issues which Inspectors have highlighted during their visit. This will help us to continue to work with parents, carers, children and young people to ensure all agencies deliver what is needed within the resources available.”
Director of Nursing and Quality for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Anne Morris said: “We welcome this report from Ofsted and the CQC and would like to thank all the children, young people, parents and carers for their input and for helping us understand more about local SEND services. The report highlights the strengths of the current system and recognises areas of concern and the need for improvement in others.
“The CCG has already taken action to make improvements in many of these areas. This includes additional investment in an online counselling service for 11-18 year olds. Our commissioned children’s community health provider Weston Area Health NHS Trust has also implemented a number of initiatives to reduce assessment waiting times for Children who may have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and are targeting waiting times in key therapeutic services. We are also working with the public health team in North Somerset Council to conduct a needs assessment, which will help us to more fully understand the individual requirements of local communities.
“Services for young people with special educational needs and disabilities are one of our top priorities. We look forward to working with our young people and their families, partners in North Somerset Council and community health providers to co-design and implement service plans, improve North Somerset SEND services and provide the highest quality care for children, young people and their families.”