Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group have pledged to improve services for children with special educational needs (SEND), following an inspection report.
Inspectors said that the area need to produce a statement on how it would tackle three key areas – delays in education health and care plans, provision for young people as they move into adulthood and communication with parents and carers.
The joint area inspection report found that over time, long waiting times for diagnosis, poor access to services, and a lack of confidence in some schools have led many families to lose confidence in leaders’ ability to help their children.
It added that there was a ‘chronic weaknesses’ in how leaders are meeting the statutory timelines for completion of education, health and care (EHC) plans and annual reviews.
‘These weaknesses are the root cause of angst and frustration for many families and professionals,’ the inspectors report states.
It also concluded that provision for young people aged 18 to 25 years is poorly planned and uncoordinated.
A lack of information, advice, guidance and timely support means that families face a ‘cliff edge’ as their children approach adulthood, the report states.
But the inspectors also found that the county has an ambitious and well-planned strategy in place but that this was new in its implementation and had not yet had time to show a significant impact.
‘While there are many children with special educational needs in Norfolk who are achieving their potential, there are some who are not getting the help they need quickly enough,’ said Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr John Fisher.
‘Like most local authorities we have found it difficult to keep up with increasing demand in this area and we are sorry for that. We have an ambitious strategy to address it, which inspectors recognised.
‘There are no surprises in this report, we know where improvement is required, and we are committed to achieving this,’ added Cllr Fisher.
The chair of Family Voice Norfolk, Tracey Sismey added: ‘The content of the report will not surprise parent carers in Norfolk. We look forward to continuing to work with the local authority, health and voluntary services to see change for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) in Norfolk, so that they are able to reach their full potential.’
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