SEND inspections reveal improvement needed

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have reported their initial findings in fulfilling their duties in the ‘Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years’.

This follows a year of inspections, 30 to date, as part of a programme of inspecting 152 areas. The local areas are inspected on:
  • identifying children and young people’s SEND (special educational needs and/or disabilities)
  • meeting the needs of children and young people who have SEND; and
  • improving outcomes for children and young people who have SEND.
Key findings include:
  • Access to therapy services was a weakness in half of the local areas inspected.

Typically, therapy services were of high quality. However, too many children and young people who have SEND experienced long waiting times as well as limited contact with the therapists that they needed. 
  • Children and young people who have SEND were found to be excluded, absent or missing from school much more frequently than other pupils nationally.

Even in some local areas that had implemented the Code of Practice well, leaders did not have appropriate plans to deal with the levels of exclusion for these pupils.   
  • Children’s and young people’s SEND were identified well in the early years, particularly for those with complex needs. Parents generally felt supported and involved in the process.

This was particularly the case for children and young people who had the most complex needs. However, the further through the schooling system children progressed, the less established opportunities for education, health and care professionals to work together became, particularly in mainstream schools.

Next steps

The main findings from the inspection have been given to local area leaders, setting out the local area’s strengths and what it needs to develop against the three main aspects in the inspection framework. The report stated: “The findings should enable local areas to learn from the good practice and strengths that we find nationally. Ofsted and CQC use these inspections to challenge poor practice and deal with any non-compliance with the Code.” We want to hear from you if these findings are familiar. If you’ve experienced long waiting lists, or difficulty sharing the hidden symptoms of brain injury with professionals, get in touch by emailing  
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