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Your voice on health and social care

Ofsted demands action over services for children with special educational needs in Oxfordshire


Services for children with special educational needs (SEND) in Oxfordshire have been criticised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Ofsted, the government regulator of children’s services and education.

Ofsted carried out an inspection of Oxfordshire services in September, jointly with the Care Quality Commission. This was to judge the effectiveness of the area in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.

Inspectors spoke to children and young people with disabilities and special educational needs, parents, carers, local authority and NHS officers.

The inspector, Diana Choulerton, has now written to Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Lucy Butler. In the letter, she says: “As a result of the findings of this inspection, and in accordance with the Children Act 2004 (Joint Area Reviews) Regulations 2015, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) has determined that a written statement of action is required because of significant areas of weakness in the local area’s practice. HMCI has also determined that the local authority and the area’s clinical commissioning group are jointly responsible for submitting the written statement of action to Ofsted.”

The main findings of the report include:

  • Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has not carried out an effective self-evaluation of how it is carrying out the reforms. Senior managers in the health service do not have a clear understanding of the progress being made in implementing the reforms
  • Education, health and care plans are often not of good quality. While the voice of children and parents is often captured well, the provision and outcomes identified in plans often fail to match children and young people’s needs and aspirations closely enough. Social care needs and certain health needs are often missing from plans.
  • Work to improve provision for secondary school age pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs has not been effective enough to reduce the number of fixed-term exclusions of pupils who have SEN and / or disabilities who do not have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan

The local area will now be required to produce a written statement of action to Ofsted outlining how it will tackle the following failings:

  • the lack of clearly understood and effective lines of accountability for the implementation of the reforms
  • the quality and rigour of self-evaluation and monitoring and the limited effect it has had on driving and securing improvement
  • the quality of EHC plans
  • the timeliness of the completion of EHC plans
  •  the high level of fixed-term exclusion of pupils in mainstream secondary schools who have special educational needs and social, emotional and mental health needs in particular.

Healthwatch Oxfordshire will ask to see a copy of this plan and will monitor its progress

 Tell us your experience by telephone us on 01865 520 520, or email hello@healthwatchoxfordshire.co.uk