Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), today (8 December) published findings from their joint local area inspection of Croydon’s services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), following their visit in October 2021.
They found leaders have developed ‘a coherent and ambitious SEND strategy’ and involve parents and carers in shaping their plans for the future of the service. They ‘know what is serving children and young people with SEND well and where there is still more to do’.
Inspectors looked at how well the council and local health services are working together to identify children and young people with SEND, meet their needs and improve their outcomes.
Their report highlights how Croydon’s portage service identifies the needs of very young children, so that they get the right support at the earliest possible stage. Other strengths include speech and language screening for young people who become known to the youth offending team, while swift and effective help identifies the needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people.
Ofsted and the CQC found that Croydon’s well-established networks of professionals share information well, and this helps them to meet the needs of children looked-after and other vulnerable groups with SEND. The report praises the sensory support service for making a ‘significant difference to how well these children and young people access their education’. It notes the special school nursing team’s effectiveness and how community children’s nurses and specialist school nurses are working well to support children with complex needs.
Inspectors have also highlighted that Croydon’s children and young people with SEND achieve well at school, and have a wide range of opportunities to take part in social and cultural activities. The report sets out how leaders have worked to reduce exclusions of children with SEND, and to increase attendance among those previously missing from education. Another strength is the training school nurses provide to support children and young people with SEND who have asthma, anaphylaxis or epilepsy.
The report concurs with Croydon’s own self-assessment of areas for improvement – one example being addressing waiting times for diagnosis, particularly for autism spectrum disorder and global development delays. Inspectors also noted delays in age-two developmental checks and waiting times for mental health assessments for children and young people. More work also needs to be done to build on improvements and strengthen the quality of Education Health and Care (EHC) plans in order to increase parents’ and carers’ confidence in them. Also to ensure that parents and carers are aware of and encouraged to access all the support available.
These are priority key areas of improvement that Croydon partners will continue to work closely together to address.
“This is a very encouraging report and I’m pleased that inspectors have recognised some of the excellent work that our local partnership is doing to support children and young people with SEND, including in challenging circumstances during the pandemic. I’m particularly pleased that they have highlighted our work to get children with SEND the right support at the earliest possible stage, and to ensure they achieve well at school and lead full, active lives. There is a lot we must do better and we will now focus on those areas as a priority. Above all, we need to ensure that we are hearing the voices of our children and young people with SEND, and of their parents and carers, so that they are right at the heart of the services they receive.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
Matthew Kershaw, Chief Executive and Place Based Leader for Health at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, added: “This reflects the continuing hard work and shared efforts of all staff in these services to give children in Croydon the best start in life. Young people, especially those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities require compassionate and coordinated care, with services working together to support children and their families. There is a lot of excellent practice identified by our inspectors and we are fully committed to addressing those areas where we need to improve to better serve our growing community in Croydon.”