Improving Medway’s services for children with special educational needs and disabilities

Published: Tuesday, 12th October 2021

We, alongside the Kent and Medway CCG, have welcomed a letter from the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England which states that they will no longer be formally monitoring our SEND services.

The services support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

The DfE and NHS England met with Medway partners on 20 September 2021 to review the progress made in the area’s SEND provision in addressing two key areas:

  • Improving joint strategic leadership between the council, CCG and education providers
  • Lack of a clearly communicated strategy understood and shared by leaders across the area

The letter recognised that ‘clear and sustained progress’ had been made in both these areas and stated that services would no longer be formally monitored.

The letter also recognised that:

  • There is a clearly communicated strategy, understood and shared, and a clear intent to maintain this high level of communication
  • School and education providers were positive about the improvements in the communication of the strategy
  • Leaders across the area fully understand and have a shared willingness to work together to embed the strategy across the SEND system in Medway
  • There are strong systems in place that underpin the assertion that leadership across partners is sufficiently improved
  • Schools and education providers were positive about the improvements from their perspectives on strategic leadership between partners, in particular the accessibility of leaders across the SEND service
  • Education, health, parents and the council are working more effectively to ensure actions taken have a positive impact on the lives of children and young people with SEND in Medway.

Earlier this year, during a monitoring visit in February, the DfE found that a third area of improvement, Quality of EHC plans, had been addressed and that EHC plans were now of good quality.

These areas of improvement were highlighted in an Ofsted and CQC joint revisit of the area’s SEND provision in December 2019. The revisit was carried out to decide whether sufficient progress has been made in addressing eight areas with weaknesses identified in a previous visit in 2017 and set out in a written statement of action in January 2018.

Medway Council, the CCG and parents have worked closely with schools and health providers to implement the changes required and ensure that they were achieving a positive impact on the lives of children and families. This included reviewing the Local Offer website content, introducing monthly SEND Newsletters to provide updates on improvement progress, co-producing key documents and action plans with parents and young people.

Tireless hard work

Cllr Josie Iles, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: “We are delighted that the Department for Education and NHS England has recognised the tireless hard work which has been carried out to ensure that the improvements were achieved. I would like to thank council staff, the CGG, parents and schools for their dedication and commitment to ensuring that children and young people with SEND continue to receive the support they need and deserve. Medway’s children and young people are at the heart of everything we do and we will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure children and young people are provided with opportunities to reach their full potential.”

Working in partnership

Paula Wilkins, Chief Nurse for Kent and Medway CCG, said: “It is with great pleasure that I read the letter from the Department of Education and NHS England, and the recognition of the progress we have made. We have worked tirelessly, since the initial inspection, to improve the service for some of our most vulnerable children and families. Working in partnership across the system and driving co-production with our parents/carers and families has led to great improvement. As co-chair of the SEND improvement board, I look forward to building on the success already achieved and sustaining progress already made.”

Ensuring the voices of parents and carers are listened to

A spokesperson for Medway Parents and Carers Forum said: “Medway Parents and Carers Forum have seen and been involved with the large areas of improvement that has been made over the last three years. We are privileged to represent our members and continue to work with Medway Council and Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to ensure the voices of parents and carers of SEND children are listened to. We work with and challenge the Council and CCG on all aspects that affect Medway parents, carers, children and young people. We are looking forward to working with Medway Council and Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group to continually improve the SEND offer for Medway for parents, carers and young people. We would like to commend our colleagues at Medway Council and Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group for their hard work and dedication as well as working together with us.”

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