Between 12 November and 16 November 2018, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted a joint inspection of Sheffield to judge the effectiveness of the area in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.
The inspection considered how services in Sheffield are identifying and meeting the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). This included all areas of practice across frontline Education, Health and Care provision and inspectors met: children, young people and parents/carers; school staff; local authority and NHS officers; Sheffield’s Parent Carer Forum; and other stakeholders.
The inspection determined that a written statement of action is required because of significant areas of weakness in seven areas of practice:
- The lack of a co-produced, coherent vision and strategy for SEND in Sheffield
- Communication, clarity and consistency in the relationship between the local area leaders, parents, carers, children and young people
- Poor strategic oversight of SEND arrangements by the CCG, which results in unacceptable waiting times for access to specialist equipment and appropriate pre- and post-diagnosis support and children and young people’s needs not being met
- Weaknesses in commissioning arrangements to remove variability and improve consistency in meeting the education, health and care needs of children and young people aged zero to 25 with SEND
- The quality and timeliness of EHC plans
- Inconsistencies in identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND in mainstream primary and secondary schools
- Weaknesses in securing effective multi-agency transition arrangements for children and young people with SEND.
Sheffield City Council and Sheffield’s Clinical Commissioning Group have worked with a range of partners including schools, Learn Sheffield and the Sheffield Parent Carer forum to develop a local area written statement of action (an action plan) setting out how we will tackle the areas of improvement and by when. The written statement of action only focuses on the areas identified by inspectors as we are required to do. We are aware of other work that is also ongoing and needs to be done which forms part of our wider improvement planning.
Ofsted have now confirmed they approve our action plan which is available online at www.sheffield.gov.uk/sendinspection
You can view the inspection report at the same web link.
What happens next:
Ofsted and the CQC will revisit Sheffield within 18 months to identify whether the required improvements have been made. We expect this to happen around October 2020.
We now need to deliver the improvements and this will require a huge amount of work. Some of the actions will happen quite quickly but others are longer-term and will take more time to complete. We are committed to ensuring that all children and young people with additional needs get the education, health and care support they need to help them reach their goals and lead a happy and full life.
We will be developing a multi-agency SEND strategy to help direct future SEND work in Sheffield. It is vital that this strategy is developed in partnership and owned by all the different organisations and groups that help support children and young people with SEND. It is also vital that the commitments made and prioritised are co-produced with children and young people with SEND and their families/carers.
We will be publicising opportunities to get involved in the coming months. You can also sign up to our new SEND newsletter at www.sheffield.gov.uk/sendinspection
Our action plan, and future SEND strategy, will be monitored by the city’s SEND and Inclusion Improvement Board. The Board includes representatives from schools, Sheffield’s Parent Carer Forum, NHS, Sheffield City Council, Learn Sheffield, The Sheffield College and Healthwatch and reports to the city’s Children’s Health and Wellbeing transformation board. Progress updates will also be posted on the Sheffield City Council website.
Our ask of you
Sheffield’s Parent Carer Forum has played a key role in developing the action plan, in gaining insight to inform its development and providing challenge to SEND systems and services. We would like to thank everyone involved in this.
We recognise that there has been significant change in recent years against a backdrop of increased financial pressure and a lack of consistently embedded practice. But we were pleased that the inspectors recognised that progress in the city is being made. We now need to build on this and continue to work together to provide the best support for our children and young people with SEND, using the resources we have most effectively.
We are keen to involve more young people, parents and carers in future work and will be publicising opportunities to get involved in the coming months. Please sign up to our new SEND newsletter at www.sheffield.gov.uk/sendinspection
Dawn Walton, Director
Commissioning, Inclusion and Learning Services
Sheffield City Council
Mandy Philbin, Chief Nurse
NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group
Statement released: 17 May 2019