Today, Ofsted announced that visits to local areas in autumn will focus on offering support to strengthen Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) systems as England begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) have been commissioned by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care to support local areas to improve their SEND systems. They will work in collaboration with local areas to understand the experiences of children and young people with SEND and their families during the pandemic, and to support local areas to prioritise and meet their needs. The visits will not replace the current SEND area inspections and Ofsted and CQC will return to SEND inspections when it is right to do so.
Ofsted has also published a report that evaluates the framework for inspecting local areas’ SEND services.
Key findings include:
- The inspections allow Ofsted to collect good evidence on how well areas identify children and young people with SEND and assess and meet their needs
- Joint working between inspectorates allows Ofsted and CQC to get a holistic picture of education and health provision, though there is a need for a greater emphasis on social care in future inspections
- Inspectors felt confident that the framework allows them to meet the aims of the inspection
- Inspections are a force for improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman said:
“There is no doubt that children and young people with SEND and their families have been affected significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many hard-working professionals and organisations have responded admirably by finding innovative ways to support children and families, we must not lose sight of the wide-ranging disruption to essential support and services still faced by many.
“Our joint visits to local areas with CQC will be collaborative and supportive, designed to support the whole SEND system I am also very pleased that Ofsted and CQC have been commissioned by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families to develop a new, ongoing area SEND inspection framework. This will continue to drive lasting and vital improvement in the whole SEND system.”
Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at the Care Quality Commission said:
“Now more than ever when services are likely to be disrupted by COVID-19, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the importance of making sure children and young people with special educational needs get the integrated support that they need.
“While inspection activity has been suspended, we need to support local areas to fulfil their responsibilities for children and young people with SEND, and their families.
“As a responsive regulator, we also need to make sure that we continue to learn and adapt our approach so that we can make sure people get the high quality, safe care that they deserve. We will be working with Ofsted to develop the new inspection framework for future SEND inspections and making sure that the voices and experience of children and young people with SEND, and their families, are at the heart of this.”
The full report can be found here.