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Fears SEND children ‘left behind’ as inspection report set to be released

PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 June 2020

A watchdogs first inspection of services which look after some of Norfolks most vulnerable children is set to be made public. Photo: Getty

A watchdogs first inspection of services which look after some of Norfolks most vulnerable children is set to be made public. Photo: Getty

Getty

A watchdog’s first inspection of services which look after some of Norfolk’s most vulnerable children is set to be made public, amid warnings that support has seemed “close to breaking point”.

Ed Maxfield, Liberal Democrat councillor for Mundesley. Pic: Liberal Democrats.Ed Maxfield, Liberal Democrat councillor for Mundesley. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

Norfolk County Council’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services were reviewed by education and health regulators earlier this year.

Schools watchdog Ofsted and health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) jointly inspected services, but parents hit out at the council with claims they were not notified of opportunities to raise their concerns.

One mother said: “We have to fight for every little thing.”

READ MORE: Parents blast ‘disappointing’ communication about review of education needs

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

But the council said it “widely publicised” the event for parents to talk to inspectors at all schools.

And now, with the report set to be released next week, a county councillor has warned of “alarming financial pressures” on the council and called for children with additional learning needs not to be “left behind”.

Ed Maxfield, Liberal Democrat councillor for Mundesley, said he had been told the report was due out on Tuesday, June 9.

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“I contacted Ofsted after reading their damning report into SEND provision in Somerset and I am pleased that they are finally able to publish their report into the service in Norfolk,” he said.

“Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic the government has rolled back the rights of SEND children.

“We have had alarming stories about added financial pressures on the county council. Support for children who are among the most vulnerable has seemed close to breaking point in recent years.

READ MORE: Council’s SEND record slammed by MP as shock report reveals UK-wide failings

“Families need to see the report so they know where they stand.”

He added: “Children with additional needs and disabilities must not get left behind in the wake of the pandemic. They, and generations to come, deserve to get the support they need.”

John Fisher, children’s services cabinet member said: “We will of course share the report with families when it is published and are planning to meet with parents groups on Monday to discuss Ofsted and the CQC’s findings.

“We want all children with SEND to achieve their potential and we have not lost sight of this during our response to Covid-19.”

He said the council had an “ambitious transformation strategy” of a £120m investment to improve service, which put “children with SEND at the forefront of our plans”.

READ MORE: ‘They are not putting children first’: Parents hit out at crisis in Norfolk’s special needs


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