SERVICES for children with special needs in Middlesbrough have been given the all-clear following an Ofsted inspection.
The move follows concerns over weaknesses in areas including leadership and planning highlighted in 2017.
As part of the SEND inspection process Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a follow-up revisit in July, concluding that sufficient progress had been made in all key areas.
During their visit, inspectors spoke to young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), their parents and carers, the Council, school leaders and local NHS.
Outlining the team’s findings, Lead Inspector Nick Whittaker said the Council’s partnership with the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had been ‘strengthened significantly’, with improvements in education, health and care services.
While further work is needed, he states: “The fundamental weaknesses in the strategic leadership and governance of the SEND reforms are being tackled effectively.”
Children and their families had greater involvement in discussion and decision-making, the inspectors found, with a significant improvement in education, health and care plans.
Strategic evaluation has been improved allowing for better planning, while a clear and ambitious strategy is paving the way for ‘sustaining improvement’.
Councillor Barrie Cooper, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Children’s Services, said: “This revisit report makes for reassuring reading, and reflects a considerable amount of hard work over the last two years.
“I’m grateful to all involved for their passion, commitment and dedication to the support of the some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
“We can never be complacent, however, and we will endeavour to drive forward improvements to ensure the needs of children, young people and their families continue to be met.”
Alex Sinclair, Director of Programmes & Primary Care Development at NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are delighted our improved partnership with Middlesbrough Council has been recognised and we will continue to work closely with the council to ensure further progress is made.
“Meeting the needs of children with special needs and their families is of the utmost priority.
“Thank you to the dedicated staff who all have worked tirelessly over the last two years and continue to do so to help make this happen.
“I echo Councillor Cooper’s view that we must not be complacent and strive to develop our services further in the future.”