Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Watchdog Finds Failings in Care for Special Needs

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Watchdog Finds Failings in Care for Special Needs

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX METCALFE Local democracy reporter alex.metcalfe@reachplc.com @Mecs_LDR

SIGNIFICANT shortcomings in care offered to Teesside youngsters with special needs have been flagged up by a joint watchdog.

An inspection by Ofsted and the CQC (Care Quality Commission) has found "significant concerns" about the care and education offered by Stockton Council and its partners.

Inspectors spoke to parents, young people with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities), council staff and NHS workers about services on offer in February.

There were some strengths found in the inspection - including teachers in mainstream schools sharing expertise, praise for the mental health "crisis service" and an "improving picture" when it came to academic performances of SEND children. But the probe found Stockton fell short in its duty of care to youngsters and families - with an action plan now required to tackle "areas of significant weakness".

The report found communication and engagement with parents was "underdeveloped" and the quality of EHC assessments and plans, the legal documents which explain what extra help SEND young people need, was "too variable".

Detail in the 10 page report revealed the rate of fixed-term exclusions from school was still "too high" for special needs youngsters - with numbers permanently excluded from school "also too high."

The report also found waiting times for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders were still too long.

And the joint watchdog found parents did not always feel their views were either heard or understood.

The report added: "Some parents report that they have had to "fight hard" to get their child's needs identified. Parents told inspectors of the need to tell their story several times to different professionals, sometimes within the same organisation. …

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