Improvements to SEND services in Lancashire recognised

Date posted: 4th November 2021

Lancashire County Council and health services within Lancashire have received feedback from the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England on the progress they have made in improving and delivering outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

In 2017, an inspection of Lancashire SEND services by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that there were 12 areas of significant weakness to be addressed.

In March 2020, a revisit found that Lancashire County Council and health services in Lancashire had successfully addressed seven of those weaknesses. The remaining areas were:

  • Continue improving leaders’ accurate understanding of the local area
  • Further address weak joint commissioning arrangements
  • Improve effective diagnostic pathways for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) across the whole area
  • Address the poor transition arrangements in 0 to 25 healthcare services
  • Improve the quality of information and accessibility of the local offer

On 29 September 2021, a 12-month progress review took place with the DfE and NHS England to review the progress made, which found that that both the county council and partnering health services demonstrated sufficient clear and sustained progress in all five areas.

Councillor Jayne Rear, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for education and skills, said: “I am extremely pleased to say that, thanks to the dedication and hard work of our teams, partners and children and young people with SEND and their families, we have been successful in making these transformational improvements.

“I want to sincerely thank everyone involved in making these changes happen and I am confident that we will not become complacent. We will continue to do all we can to put the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Lancashire first and help them to thrive.”

Dr Julie Higgins, joint chief officer of Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire CCGs, said: “This is a wonderful outcome, and I am delighted that we have demonstrated our commitment to improving.

“Partnership working is so important to improving our services, so I want to thank each and every person who helped us reach this point. We will be in regular contact with our DfE and NHSE colleagues to ensure we stay on track to provide the children and young people of Lancashire with SEND and their families with the best possible services.”

Following the Ofsted inspection in 2017, a Lancashire-wide SEND partnership was established to ensure these areas were improved upon. The partnership included education and health colleagues, with representatives from the Lancashire Parent Carer Forum and representatives from the Children and Young People's SEND board.

Sam Jones, chair of the Lancashire Parent Carer Forum, said:

"It's reassuring that inspectors have recognised the significant progress that has been made, and I would like to thank all the parent carers who have given their input to support making such vital service improvements.

“The Lancashire Parent Carer Forum remains a committed partner in supporting change and improvement locally by representing parent carers and the children they care for and making sure their voices are heard."

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