COVENTRY’S service for children with special needs has been praised by Ofsted inspectors, though the watchdog has raised concerns over Educational Health Care plans for children.
Government inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission visited Coventry in October, to survey the special educational needs service.
They have praised Coventry City Council’s “genuine passion and commitment to get things right for children and young people with SEND” and said “children and young people inspectors met …felt happy and well looked after”.
But the inspectors have criticised the council’s communication with the parents of children with special needs. Some parents told inspectors their options were ‘difficult to navigate’.
Delays for children’s assessments were also an issue, with one family waiting over a year for an autism assessment.
They also identified ‘a significant increase in the number of children and young people’ in Coventry would place extra pressures on special needs services.
The Inspectors spent a week interviewing families, nurseries, schools, colleges, and officers from the council, doctors and health workers.
Writing to the director of children’s services, John Gregg, who is a former Ofsted director, Ofsted said: “Coventry has many strengths and is clear what needs to be done to secure further improvement.
“Strategic and operational partnerships are well established in Coventry and teams work together effectively
“Area leaders respect the lived experiences of children and their parents… The importance of co-production is recognised and many examples cited where parents and young people have developed or influenced systems and services to meet their needs.
“Strong school partnerships are committed to improving the outcomes achieved by children and young people with special needs.
“Whilst the views of parents are mixed, many expressed positive views about the quality of services, particularly the role of frontline staff.”
“Some parents feel frustrated that services are not readily available. While considerable work has been done to improve accessibility and reduce waiting times, some parents told us that they are still waiting too long to access provision that meets their child’s needs.
“We were told that one child waited for over a year for an assessment for autism spectrum disorder.
“Some children and young people have to wait more than 20 weeks to access an occupational therapy service, but the waiting time is beginning to reduce.”
Coun Kevin Maton, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “I’m very pleased with this report which reflects what we always knew – that we have an awful lot to be proud of in our support for children and young people with SEND.
“I’m proud that the inspectors have recognised the commitment and passion of the City to support young people with SEND in achieving positive outcomes, including independent living skills and employment. I am delighted to hear that children and young people are happy and feel well supported in Coventry”
Kirston Nelson, Director of Education and Skills, said: “This is a very pleasing report which shows the power of taking a One Coventry approach. The welfare and support for children and young people with SEND is everyone’s business and we have worked not only with teams across the council, but also with partners across the city including health professionals, schools and most importantly with the children and families who use our services.”