CHILDREN and young adults with special educational needs and disability (SEND) requirements are being failed by a council with a duty of care to families in need of support.

Ofsted inspectors have revealed “significant concerns” following a review of services offered by Stockton Borough Council responsible for SEND care and education.

The authority was tasked with implementing reforms introduced by law in 2014. However, findings from a watchdog review of services in the area published this week highlights action must be taken to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND more effectively.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Ofsted, Michael Wardle, on behalf of the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted, has stated that Stockton Borough Council is now required to produce and submit a written statement of action detailing plans to tackle “areas of significant weakness”.

Mr Wardle made points of improvement in an Ofsted report:

• co-production, engagement and communication with parents are underdeveloped

• the quality of education, health and care (EHC) assessments and plans is too variable

• strategic joint commissioning, in a way that demonstrably improves EHC provision and outcomes for children, young people and families, is not fully embedded

• local area leaders have not developed an effective approach to measuring and evaluating EHC outcomes for children and young people

A charity has called on the council to make robust plans for change. Martin Thacker, deputy director at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Clear areas for improvement have been identified and all eyes are now on the council’s leaders to see how they will start delivering for every child in their care.

“With the right support, children with special needs and disabilities can fulfil their incredible potential and achieve well at school. The council must now give them all that chance to shine.”

Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton Council’s cabinet member for children and young people and Nicola Bailey, chief officer, NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group said in a joint statement: “Partners across education, health and social care in Stockton-on-Tees acknowledge the issues highlighted in the report and are fully committed to working together to devise and implement an action plan to improve provision and outcomes for these children and young people within the local area.

“We were pleased the inspectors saw a lot of strengths in the work of the local area and recognised that leaders know what needs to be done, are ambitious, and have ‘sensible’ and ‘focused’ plans in place.”