14 July 2016

Inspectors praise city’s ‘unwavering focus’ on SEN children’s needs

Children and young people in Brighton & Hove and their families are very well supported – according to the country’s two key inspection agencies.

A joint inspection carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission has praised services delivered by Brighton & Hove City Council and the local NHS for their ‘unwavering focus on the overall needs of children and young people who have a special educational need or disability’. The report notes that Brighton and Hove local area puts the child or young person with SEN or disability and their family, at the centre of its vision to improve services.

The inspectors spoke to children and young people who have disabilities and special educational needs and their parents and carers, as well as staff from a wide range of services across the city.

The inspectors said that: 

Leaders evaluate the local area’s effectiveness exceptionally well by assessing services’ strengths and weaknesses precisely
The impact of services for care, education and health are consistently reported by parents as improving the lives of their children
Pupils in both special and mainstream schools are overwhelmingly positive about how they are supported to make progress
Strong joint working relationships between different agencies mean that safeguarding arrangements are effective
The excellent delivery of the healthy child programme means families with children who are not meeting their early milestones are identified in a timely manner
Children’s social care services provides excellent, graduated support to families who have a child with special educational needs or a disability
Parents and carers comment positively about how well their children are prepared for adult life. As one parent expressed, ‘Brighton and Hove accepts you for who you are.’
The speech and language therapy service commissioned by the CCG  is cohesive and strong. Exceptional leadership and management mean there are full complements of therapists who support schools very effectively to deliver excellent programmes for children.

The inspectors also noted some areas for development. They called for improvements in identifying children as being on the autistic spectrum, with assessment and diagnosis currently too slow in some instances. The CCG and Children’s Services have recognised this and the CCG has recently invested in the pathway so that families have less time to wait for assessment and diagnosis in the future but are clear there are still further improvements to be made.

They also called for the ‘local offer’ – which gives information on the help and support available – to be made easier to use, saying many parents were unaware of what the local offer is.

The chair of the council’s children, young people and skills committee, Councillor Tom Bewick, said: “I’m particularly pleased that the feedback the inspectors received from the majority of parents and children who have special educational needs or disabilities has been so positive.

“However, the inspectors have acknowledged that there is more to do. I’m pleased that these areas have already been identified and that there are already plans to address these issues.”

“While this is a very good report overall, this is no time for complacency. We recognise that further improvements are needed and we will be re-doubling our efforts to achieve them.

“I'd like to thank the children's services team for their dedication to improving life chances and outcomes for young people in the city and for taking this authority on an improvement journey to outstanding services across the board by 2019."

Read the Local area SEND inspection outcome letter