Heath watchdogs praise council services

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A recent joint investigation carried out by education and healthcare watchdogs OFSTED and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has highlighted the effective work being carried out in St Helens for children and young people with and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

As part of the inspection, inspectors spoke with children and young people with SEN and/or disabilities, their parents and carers, as well as local authority and NHS staff– and visited schools, colleges and nurseries where they spoke to leaders, staff and governors about how they were implementing the special educational needs and disability reforms.

Key findings from the report found that St Helens ‘had embraced the spirit of the reforms introduced in 2014 putting children, young people and families at the heart of their plans’.

In particular the report praises the establishment of an innovative neurodevelopment pathway, developed as a partnership between parents and professionals which has ‘transformed the accessibility, timeliness and co-ordination of specialist services’, and inspectors saw examples of children with SEND thriving in mainstream schools in St Helens.

The report also states that ‘the majority of parents and carers are pleased with the help and support available in St Helens, with some describing the transformational effect this has had on their children’s lives”.

In addition, inspectors noted that St Helens uses information intelligently to identify strengths and weaknesses in educational provision for pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities - while strong appointments to key roles have already transformed the effectiveness of systems and structures across education, health, and social care.

Praising the report, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Young People and Education, councillor Jeanette Banks, said: “This report makes for excellent reading and is a testimony to the hard work that goes on to ensure that our children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities receive the best possible care available to them.

“Although we are delighted with this report, we will not become complacent and are already getting to work to further improve our local offer, taking on board inspectors’ recommendations to raise ambitions and aspirations of our young people as they enter their adult years.”

Councillor Banks added: “Having good quality services and robust systems and procedures ensure that children and young people who have SEN and/or disabilities in St Helens are kept safe, which is at the heart of the work of services working with children and young people with SEN and/or disabilities.”