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Progress made but still more to do

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A recent visit by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission found improvements in Dudley’s SEND services, but more needs to be done.

Between January 31 and Feb 3, inspectors visited Dudley Council to assess its children’s services and what progress had been made within SEND (Special educational needs and disabilities) services since its last visit in 2019.

Following the 2019 visit the council and the Black Country and West Birmingham CCG had to submit a written statement of action, which was declared fit purpose in December of that year.

In the most recent visit, inspectors recognised there had been “sufficient progress” in eight areas, previously identified as areas of weakness.

This included an improvement in embedding strategies, better co-production and engagement with parents and carers, improved understanding about inclusion in schools in Dudley and increasing the number of young people with SEND progressing into training and employment opportunities.

Inspectors, however, found that more needs to be done to be make progress in six areas including the management and sharing of information within EHC plans and improving parent satisfaction.

Catherine Driscoll, director of children’s services, said:

Although the report makes it clear there are areas where we still need to improve, it also shows that we have made sufficient progress in eight out of 14 areas.
This is a positive result for Dudley, it shows that the changes we are making are working and we are improving the outcomes for children and young people with SEND.
The report also recognised that throughout the pandemic we continued to prioritise the needs of children and young people with SEND.
I can assure parents and carers that we will continue on our journey of improvement and are determined to make significant progress across all 14 areas in the coming months.

Claire Powers, co-chair of the Dudley Parent Carer Forum said:

Dudley Parent Carer Forum would like to thank parent carers for their input to the revisit and Ofsted for hearing what was said by the whole SEND community. We feel the outcome is a fair one reflecting the work being driven towards changing such as the co- produced SEND strategy, whilst reflecting that we are a long way from real change being felt on the ground in the experience of each and every disabled child with SEND in Dudley and their families.

Neil Bucktin, Dudley Managing Director, Black Country and West Birmingham CCG said:

I know colleagues across health, education and children’s social care have worked extremely hard to address the issues identified by OFSTED and the CQC in 2019. It is pleasing to see that this work has been recognised in their assessment of the majority of the areas of concern.
There is further work to do as we build on the progress made. Dudley is in a different place to where we were three years ago and we are committed to working with parents, families, children and young people to secure continued and sustainable improvements for the future.

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