Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Council Slammed over 'Deplorable' Service for Special Needs Children

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Council Slammed over 'Deplorable' Service for Special Needs Children

Article excerpt

OLDHAM council has admitted 'unacceptable failings' after a damning Ofsted report uncovered serious weaknesses in its services for youngsters with disabilities and learning difficulties.

Last month the M.E.N. exclusively revealed that educational outcomes for children and young people with special needs were among the worst in the country.

Now a report, which was carried out by Ofsted and the Quality Care Commission in October, details the failings of the special educational needs service, with inspectors describing elements of it as 'shoddy', 'dysfunctional', 'fundamentally flawed' and 'deplorable.' .

Education watchdog Ofsted has demanded an overhaul from Oldham council to improve the care and support children received in a 'written statement of action'.

The inspection ran between October 2 and 6, to judge the effectiveness of the area in implementing the disability and special educational needs (SEN) reforms demanded by law.

The nine-page report highlighted a string of issues in the service children and young people received, including delays in being referred for support.

While inspectors found the 'quality of many frontline services is good', the report was so critical in some areas the council has said 'we are sorry for anybody who has been let down.' Children and young people told inspectors they felt safe - but parents complained children and young people 'wait too long' for their needs to be identified, and that some schools are too quick to refuse to talk about assessments for children and young people. EHC plans are for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.

EHC plans are supposed to identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

The report stated: "The education, health and care (EHC) process in Oldham is fundamentally flawed, does not comply with the Code of Practice and there is possible illegal practice. …

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