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Calls for more scrutiny of SEND provision in Kent after Ofsted and CQC report identifies failings

Councillors have demanded a committee be set up to scrutinise the service provided to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Kent following a damning inspection.

Earlier this month, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a report on how Kent County Council (KCC), the NHS in Kent and Medway, and schools provide SEND support.

Ofsted criticised services for children with special needs in Kent
Ofsted criticised services for children with special needs in Kent

Inspectors conducted a visit to look at the provision at the end of September found the area had “not made sufficient progress” in addressing the weaknesses identified in a damning report in 2019, where nine areas of weakness were identified.

In its letter setting out the failings, Ofsted and the CQC said: “Parental confidence in the local area’s ability to meet their children’s needs is at an all-time low."

The inspection recounted “desperate and dispirited parents who repeatedly told inspectors about their experiences, particularly of poor communication".

Council leader Roger Gough (Con) offered his apologies to parents, carers, and children following the publication of the report and pledged to invest where extra funding was needed.

The findings were discussed during a meeting of the council's children's, young people and education cabinet yesterday.

Kent County Council leader Roger Gough
Kent County Council leader Roger Gough

Setting out the findings, director of children's services Sarah Hammond said staff didn't know enough about the academic progress of children with SEND, and she agreed with another finding which said childrens' views were not being sufficiently sought.

Cllr Rory Love (Con), cabinet member for education and skills, said the council was "not where it wanted to be", adding "It's clearly a disappointing result from the re-visit.

"It's fair to add that a great deal has already taken place both since the initial inspection back in 2019, and over the last few weeks and months.

"Some of the seeds that were sown after the 2019 inspection are only just coming to fruition now so I think that gives context to where we are now."

Cllr Trudy Dean (Lib Dem) called the report "blistering", before recommending a new sub-committee be set up to scrutinise solely the council's SEND provision.

County Hall, Maidstone
County Hall, Maidstone

She added: "It is quite honestly one of the worst reports I have ever seen."

Tomorrow, the council's cabinet members will be asked to vote on the roll out of a new transformation programme in the wake of the Ofsted visit.

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