Children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) are valued in Sandwell, according to a new report.
Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have this week (12 September) published their Area SEND inspection report of the Sandwell Local Area Partnership, following their inspection in July 2023. The report describes a “renewed dynamism in Sandwell”, and states “Leaders across the local area partnership […] are making sustained improvements for children and young people with SEND.“
Sandwell Council, the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Sandwell Children’s Trust are jointly responsible for planning and commissioning services for children and young people with SEND.
The report praises the work of education, health and social care professionals to enable young people to take part in decision making about their education, care and support. It also recognises that children and young people appreciate the help they receive in education and training settings, value extra-curricular activities and that mainstream education providers often go ‘above and beyond’ what is expected of them. It also acknowledges that leaders have plans to address the reliance on out of borough post-16 provision for young people and address the increased demand for special school places.
The inspectors noted that “many children and young people with SEND in Sandwell thrive when their needs are identified accurately, without unnecessary delay, so that the best possible provision can be put into place.”
However, the report recognises that area leaders are aware that this does not happen for every child and young person with SEND, and there is a coordinated effort across the whole partnership to tackle these inconsistencies.
Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Education, Councillor Simon Hackett, said:
“We welcome this report and are pleased to see that the hard work of everyone involved has been recognised and the inspectors saw the improvements made so far.
“We are determined to give all children and young people in Sandwell the best start in life, so know there is still some way to go and we’re determined to improve things further. We have plans in place to address the issues identified in the report, including work to boost the number of places available at special schools and establish more post-16 provision for young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Sandwell.”
Sally Roberts, Chief Nurse for the Black Country Integrated Care Board said:
“Giving children and young people the best possible start in life is a top priority for the ICB and our partners, and that is especially true for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
“Improvements are happening as we work together with partners to take steps to ensure we are able to offer better support for children and families with their health and educational needs, it is great to see these improvements recognised in this latest report.”
Jacqui Smith, Chair of Sandwell Children’s Trust said:
“We are hugely ambitious for children and young people in Sandwell, and are pleased that this report recognises the sustained improvements being made across the partnership.
“We will continue to work with education and health partners to provide the best possible support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Sandwell.”