Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to do to improve.”
Bradford Council is likely to be given an order to improve when its services for young people with Special Educational Needs is inspected.
All local Council are due to have their Special Educational Needs and Disability services inspected by May 2021, and the inspection of Bradford is thought to be “imminent.”
At a meeting of the Council Executive on Tuesday, members were given an update on the progress of its Special Educational Needs and Disability Reforms, and were told that while there had been some improvement in recent years, the inspection is likely to raise concerns.
The reforms should have been completed almost two years ago – but some major areas are still to be completed.
Issues that the Council acknowledges are currently problem areas are:
- Just 40 per cent of Education Health and Care Plans being carried out in the statutory 20 week assessment period
- The need to engage with parents
- Processes for managing and monitoring SEND Placements that are located outside of Bradford
- The need to encourage and enhance personal budgets for young people
- Reduction in waiting times for access to specialist services, including child and adolescent mental health services and assessments for Autism.
A report to the Executive said: “Progress in implementing the SEND Reforms in Bradford has been slow and the local area will be inspected on the assumption that the reforms should have been fully implemented by the March 31 2018.”
At the meeting members were told that there had been some areas of great progress in the past year. These included the appointment of SEND ambassadors to “champion the voice of children and young people with SEND” and a District wide review of SEND provision, creating an additional 354 places within the district.
Parent listening events were also held in June and November to provide an opportunity to talk to professionals and give feedback on SEND services. Further parent listening events are planned across the district from January to June.
At Tuesday’s meeting, held in City Hall, Jane Hall. SEND Transformation and Compliance Manager, told members: “We still have some way to go, and we are working on some areas as a priority.
“If we do have a SEND inspection soon, there is a good chance we will get a written statement of action. This will highlight to us the areas where we will be expected to progress rapidly.
“We will likely receive a written statement of action. Part of that will see us put in a period of monitoring for 12 months.”
A Written Statement of Action is determined by Ofsted where they believe that a local area needs to takes urgent steps to accelerate progress.
Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to do to improve.”
She pointed out that 60 per cent of the Council’s budget is spent on children’s and adult care.
Councillor Imran Khan, Executive for education and skills, said: “I recognise we’ve had problems and we’ve moved quite some way forward to turn this around. Eighteen months ago we were not in a good place. A lot of work has gone on in recent months. I think Ofsted realise we are in a much better place than we were. But we’re not where we need to be.”