Ambitious, creative and determined to make a difference – that’s the official verdict on Salford’s services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission carried out a joint inspection of the services run by Salford City Council and NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which pooled their budgets for children’s services last year.
Deputy City Mayor Councillor John Merry said he was pleased that inspectors recognised Salford’s vision and determination that all children and young people with SEND are given every opportunity to be happy, healthy and achieve their full potential.
And Steve Dixon, Chief Accountable Officer, Salford CCG said praise for the creative, ambitious, targeted and effective work of education, health and social care services and positive feedback from children, young people and parents interviewed during the inspection was welcome news.
Both leaders said that areas for improvement highlighted in the report are already being addressed and promised parents that there would be no complacency when it came to delivering first class services.
Inspectors said both organisations have a ‘balanced and accurate understanding’ of strengths and weaknesses and ambitious plans for the services. They praised the strong partnership working, that parents and children/young people are put at the heart of decision making about how to meet their needs and that work to strengthen that involvement is ongoing.
The report says that improved early intervention means an increasing percentage of children are achieving a good level of development, while parents of children in special schools “speak in glowing terms” about the quality of provision and support.
Inspectors also praised the quality of services, including support for children with additional needs, educational psychology, learning support, information and advice and the virtual school. They singled out a number of innovative areas of practice including dedicated clinics for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and Salford’s supported internship scheme, supported by Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, the BBC, Marks and Spencer and the University of Salford which helps young people with SEND to gain paid employment.
Areas for improvement include more consistency in assessing and meeting needs, tackling waiting times for some services and timely health assessments, tackling rates of absence and exclusion from school and improving the range of leisure opportunities for SEND children and young people.
“There are many, many positives in the report which is welcome and testimony to the hard work and commitment of all staff involved with these services. As we expected, the report highlights areas for improvement which we are already aware of and working hard to address because we want the very best for all our children and families,” added Councillor John Merry.
Steve Dixon said: “We are never complacent and know that we still have work to do, but this report is affirmation that we are moving in the right direction to give our children and young people the best start in life.”