An inspection of Waltham Forest’s Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) service, carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has found that “local area leaders have worked in a joined-up and effective way” to tackle issues identified during a previous inspection in 2017, and that “there has been a strong, collective drive to improve the education, health and care outcomes this group of children and young people achieve”.
The revisit, between 25 and 26 March 2019, investigated whether sufficient progress had been made addressing the issues detailed in 2017, when a written statement of action outlined three key areas of weakness.
The council has worked with partners in the Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) to make the required improvements. In the revisit, the inspectors found:
- The CCG has made sure that the Designated Medical Officer (DMO) role has sufficient capacity. In addition, a full-time Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) has been appointed since the initial inspection. The DCO has developed and implemented new systems which are adding significantly to the local area’s drive to tackle the identified areas for improvement.
- The CCG has a clearly defined role in reviewing and finalising Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. As a result, local area leaders have a more accurate understanding of the quality of finalised plans, such as how well children and young people’s needs are described and whether the education, health and care provision explains how the child or young person’s needs will be met. This stronger oversight of EHC plans is helping leaders to work out how to further improve provision for children and young people with SEND and their families.
- Arrangements for clinicians and practitioners to contribute to EHC plans and to check draft and final plans are securely in place. The timeliness and quality of health advice is improving. This is because the DCO and DMO have provided clear and helpful guidance for health professionals and implemented a systematic approach to checking the quality of their contributions to EHC assessments and plans.
The report further found that the Waltham Forest parent and carer forum has made an influential contribution to the local area’s leadership and governance. By working with the families of young people with SEND, the council can understand more clearly what is working well and what could be better in the borough.
Cllr Grace Williams, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We have worked hard with our partners in the local CCG and at NELFT to improve our services and make a real difference in improving the life chances of our residents. The dedication and effort of the staff who work with vulnerable children, some of whom live with complex and challenging needs, is an inspiration.
“It’s a shining example of what can be achieved by a close partnership between local services, working together for the benefit of residents and connecting communities across Waltham Forest. We will continue to listen to what parent carers tell us and learn how we can continue to improve the service we deliver.
“We are determined to achieve the best outcome for all of our children and young people and give them the skills and support they need to succeed.”
During the revisit, inspectors spoke with children and young people who used SEND services, and their parents and carers, along with local authority and National Health Service (NHS) officers. They also met with leaders and practitioners from the local area for education, health, and social care.
The Department for Education and NHS England will now make a decision about whether to continue with formal monitoring visits after the inspector’s report recommended they could cease.