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Bradford Council's SEND services criticised following Ofsted inspection

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022 7:53pm

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

There are "significant gaps" in provision for children with special educational needs in the Bradford district, a highly critical report has found.

The latest review into Bradford’s SEND offer found that parents in the District had “lost faith” in the system.

The review looked at services offered by Bradford Council and the Bradford Clinical Commissioning Group.

It is the latest report to criticise the way Bradford provides services to the District’s young people.

Carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, the review took place in early March, although the findings have just been published today.

The report reveals that a “Written Statement of Action” has now been issued due to “significant areas of weakness in the area’s practice.”

Bradford Council and the CCG will have to jointly submit this statement to explain the work they are doing to improve the service.

The report said: “Between 2014 and 2019, leaders from the local authority and the CCG did not prioritise the implementation of the SEND reforms.

“As a result, there are now significant gaps in specialist provision and services for children and young people with SEND in Bradford.

“Leaders who are now in post acknowledge these historic failings and are committed to bringing about change. Leaders have evaluated the current situation well. They have identified key priorities focused on improving the experience of children and young people with SEND and their families. “However, there is much to do and the journey to improvement has only just begun.”

“Leaders do not gather the voice of children and young people with SEND as much as they need to.

“Over time, parents and carers have lost faith in the SEND system in Bradford. Leaders now recognise the importance of using the experiences of families to inform strategic decisions.

“The needs of children and young people at SEND support or waiting for a diagnosis are not fully understood or met by services or in school consistently. This is affecting outcomes for these children and young people. For example, too many children and young people at SEND support are absent or suspended from school too often in Bradford.

“”Children and young people wait too long for assessments, treatment and
diagnosis. There is insufficient support for children and young people with SEND who are waiting for provision, services, diagnosis or equipment.”

A Bradford Council spokesman said the District is “putting in place the steps that are needed to bring about improvements to its services.”

In a joint statement Helen Hirst – Chief Officer – NHS Bradford District and Craven CCG, and Marium Haque – Strategic Director of Bradford Council’s Children’s Services, said: “As a partnership we want the best possible outcomes for children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.

“We accept the findings of this detailed inspection into the district’s services and will work as a partnership to address them. Ofsted and the CQC highlighted a number of strengths within our partnership which gives us the opportunity to learn and build on these and reflects the dedication of colleagues working hard every day to help people across our district. We also acknowledge that there are areas we must improve on if we’re to offer the right levels of service for our children and young people and their carers.

“Ofsted and the CQC’s report confirmed our own findings of the areas that we need to focus on next. Work is already underway to address the issues we have identified as a partnership. Our teams have been working hard to fix these and will continue to make improvements to these areas of service.

“Ofsted and the CQC acknowledge that we know what the areas of concern are and that we have plans in place to put these right. We know that critical to this is listening to the voices and experiences of children and families so that they can help us improve our services. We are committed to doing more to give everyone a voice so they can help us as we shape services to more closely meet the needs of local people.

“We are determined as a partnership to make the changes that are needed so that we can provide better services for families. We have an opportunity to demonstrate to Ofsted and the CQC how we can work together, and at pace, to put in place the improvements that are required to deliver safe, effective and responsive services.”

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