Bristol City Council is publishing the Local Area’s Written Statement of Action (WSoA) today (20 April) to address the findings of the Ofsted/Care Quality Commission (CQC) Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) inspection.
Co-produced with health and education partners, and parents and carers, the WSoA is the Local Area’s plan to improve key areas identified in the Ofsted/CQC inspection report, which was published at the end of last year.
Approved by Ofsted/CQC, the WSoA demonstrates the local area’s commitment to addressing all areas of concern by working with parents and carers, the area’s clinical commissioning group and a range of partners and stakeholders, including schools, health services and social care.
The Ofsted/CQC inspection highlighted areas requiring improvement, including - Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) statutory processes, high numbers of fixed term exclusions and a lack of awareness of the Local Offer, all of which are addressed in the WSoA.
Cabinet Lead Member for Education and Skills, Councillor Anna Keen said work to improve SEND was already well underway prior the Ofsted/CQC inspection.
She said: “The current issues in SEND, including EHCP process delays, have been built up over a long period of time so we know there are no quick fixes. However, we have been working at pace to improve SEND, including significantly increasing the size of our SEND team to improve EHCP timescales, which we know have a significant impact on families with SEND.
“It was important to us to co-produce the Written Statement of Action with parents and carers. It means we now have a roadmap for tackling each of the areas highlighted by Ofsted and the CQC in depth alongside our partners in health and schools, which will help us deliver the improvements we know our families with SEND want to see.”
The local area will be revisited by Ofsted/CQC approximately 18 months after the initial inspection, to evaluate how effectively local leaders have addressed the issues raised.
Alison Hurley, Director for Education and Skills said: “Now with Ofsted and CQC approval of our Written Statement of Action, we are embarking on our improvement journey with what we believe is realistically achievable. Given our very low starting point, we know that it will take longer than 18 months to fully achieve our ambitions and meet our obligations under the SEND Code of Practice in terms of issuing EHCPs and completing annual reviews, as well as gaining parental trust and confidence in the SEND system. However, our aspiration is far greater than many of the targets set out in the document, and our plans will reflect this.
“We are currently working on ways to enable our planned programme of co-production opportunities to still go ahead in the short-term due to COVID-19, for instance strengthening capacity in core SEND teams to minimise the impact of absences due to illness and using virtual technology to support families.”
Deborah El-Sayed, Director of Transformation at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are pleased that the Written Statement of Action for the Bristol area has been approved by Ofsted and the CQC, and we would like to thank the children, young people and families whose experiences helped with the development of this.
“The statement will now provide a blueprint for making the changes we need to improve SEND services in our communities, and provide the most meaningful support to children and young people. We look forward to working closely with the council and community health providers – alongside children, young people, parents and carers - to ensure services continue to improve for everyone.
“We appreciate this is a difficult time for many people, and that it may be particularly hard for children and young people with SEND and their families. Community Children’s Health Partnership teams have set up a dedicated telephone advice and information service for families currently receiving care, and we would encourage anyone with questions or concerns to get in touch.”
Nick Flaherty, Chairperson of Bristol Parent Carers said: “We are pleased that Ofsted have recognised the needs and aspirations of parents and carers of children and young people with SEND in Bristol, and that council and health leaders have recognised the enormity of the scale of improvement required to address the long-standing, serious weaknesses identified by the inspection.
“Continued engagement with Bristol Parent Carers is a key part of the sustained co-production that will place children, young people and their families at the heart of ongoing improvement and development activity.”
The WSoA & Ofsted’s Approval Letter is published on the Local Offer website today (Monday 20 April).
- The Coronavirus (COVID-19): Special Educational Needs and Disabilities update for families with SEND is now on the Local Offer website here.
- Details of the dedicated telephone advice and information service, along with service changes during the coronavirus outbreak can be found on the Community Children's Health Partnership website: cchp.nhs.uk/news/coronavirus-service-changes