SEND Services Letting Children Down

23 May 2019, 10:09 | Updated: 23 May 2019, 10:21

SEND Inspection

A dad from Barrow says he's not surprised shortcomings have been found in services for children with special educational need in Cumbria.

Jeffrey Holt's son, Jasper, has mitochondrial disease.

Last night, an Ofsted report was published saying "significant improvements" were needed to SEND services in the county.

Jeffrey said it feels like there's no obligation to educate his child: "Our experience has been quite poor. My son started school in September 2017. And just to get people trained to look after him was a process that was ultimately decided on by each individual teaching assistant.

"We've just had barriers in place every single step of the way. And there's just no communication between the various teams that need to be involved in order to facilitate Jasper going to school on a full time basis."

Jeffrey added it feels like the authorities are just waiting for mums and dads of disabled children to stop bothering them: "Sometimes it just gets the better of you. And you kind of feel like that you know they know you're going to get to that point where you're going to give up."

He finished by saying: "There is, I think, an attitude - with the funding cuts - that there are some children who are just too hard work; who need too much support for them to be even worthy of support and help."

In response John Macilwraith, Executive Director – People, at Cumbria County Council, Peter Rooney, Chief Operating Officer at North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and Hilary Fordham, Chief Operating Officer at Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group, have issued the following joint statement: “Improving services for children and young people with SEND is a priority for all of us. Services should be consistently good across the whole county. We welcome the report findings. They reflect our own self-evaluation and confirm that while there is much work to do, we are moving in the right direction. We are pleased that inspectors found many examples of where services are working well, and that the quality and dedication of staff working with children and families was recognised.

“We are committed to getting it right for children and young people with SEND and we are working together, alongside parents and carers, to respond to the inspection findings and make improvements.”

Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning at Cumbria County Council, added: “We were aware that parts of our services were not good enough for children and young people and it is a priority for us to see services improve. This is a complex and challenging area of work which is under severe pressure as a result of increasing demand on services and the increasing complexity of children’s needs. Put simply the funding we, and schools, receive from government has not kept pace with this increase in demand and this has an impact on children and young people.

“The report is helpful as it provides further evidence that we are moving in the right direction and we will continue to improve our services despite the pressures and restrictions we are dealing with.”