Home Children and Young People First Knowsley Area SEND inspection highlights progress made at pace
Care Quality Commisson

First Knowsley Area SEND inspection highlights progress made at pace

by Guy Murphy

In March 2022, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted the first local area inspection in Knowsley of Special Educational Needs and / or Disabilities (SEND) services and support provided across Health, Social Care, Council and Education providers.

During the inspection, which took place from 14 to 18 March 2022, the team of Inspectors spoke to children and young people with SEND, parents and carers and representatives from the Council, Education, Social Care, and health services. They visited a range of special and mainstream schools in the borough and conducted a parent / carer survey.

The inspection team assessed the local area against the following criteria:-

  • The effectiveness of the local area in identifying children and young people’s SEND
  • The effectiveness of the local area in meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND
  • The effectiveness of the local area in improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND

The inspection team recognised the positive impact of the SEND Strategy 2018 in improving services for children and families with SEND, identifying many local strengths and confirming the areas identified for improvement by partners were the right ones for the local area.

Key findings from the inspection included:-

  • Leaders are passionate about improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND in Knowsley. Since 2018 leaders have made progress at pace, which is commendable particularly considering the pandemic.
  • Knowsley Parent Carer Voice (KPCV) the local Parent Carer Forum engages closely with leaders of many workstreams and agencies to ensure that the voice of parents and carers is heard. Co-production is a strength. Parents and carers feel well supported by KPCV and SENDIASS.
  • At the heart of the SEND strategy is co-production – where children, families and services work together to create services to support children and families with SEND.
  • There is a shared vision for all children and young people which ensures joined up decisions from health, education and social care.
  • Through Council investment, the offer has been strengthened in terms of support to schools and settings with the structure and capacity of the SEND service also noted as an improvement. School leaders described their improved trust and confidence in the local area’s leadership of SEND.
  • The identification of SEND was identified as a strength of the system – the team around the family process works well, particularly in the early years.
  • Leaders effectively check the accuracy of children and young people’s needs. Assessment of needs in early years was also highlighted as a strength and parents and carers value the delivery of health services in school settings.
  • Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) are of good quality – they contain the person’s aspirations, their voice and the voice of the parent / carer with outcomes being person-centred.
  • Leaders acted quickly during the pandemic to ensure that vulnerable children and young people attended school if appropriate and creative support was also provided.
  • The capacity in the speech and language service has recently been increased which has resulted in reduced waiting times and most children with SEND have a strong start in school.
  • The work of specialist teams is appreciated by parents and professionals. These services, including services for children and young people with hearing and visual impairments, and autistic spectrum disorder, support education professionals, parents and carers to meet needs well.
  • Joint commissioning between Health and Council services works well in Knowsley, based on the needs of communities by working closely with the Knowsley Parent Carer Voice.
  • Waiting times for child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) have been reduced to 12 weeks from referral to initial appointment.
  • Most respondents to OFSTED and CQCs survey indicated that educational settings are improving their child or young person’s outcomes. Many parents reported positively on the impact of individual schools and SENCOs.

A number of areas for improvement have been identified which will now form the basis of a Written Statement of Action (an action plan to ensure that the local area continues to improve at pace). The three areas are:-

  1. Improving the 0-25 universal public health offer to ensure that the identification of SEND is timely.
  2. Reducing the waiting time for assessment of neurodevelopmental needs and improving communication with parents/carers/children and young people.
  3. Strengthening the planning for and communication about preparation for adulthood for young people with SEND.

Councillor Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said “We have worked incredibly hard to ensure our children and families with SEND receive the right support at the right time.

“I’m pleased that our strong partnership and commissioning arrangements have been highlighted, as well as the excellent support provided by our Knowsley Parent Carer Voice.

“We accept the findings from the inspection, and the areas for improvement, that had been identified in our own self-assessment and we are working with our children, families and partners to effectively tackle these issues.

“It’s also pleasing that the pace of progress we have made over the last few years has been highlighted and we will continue on build on this and ensure we provide the very best services and support to our children, young people and their families.”

You can read a full copy of the inspection report on Ofsted’s website.