Special education services in Sutton make significant progress

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have confirmed that Sutton’s Local Area services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have made “sufficient progress” in all three areas identified in the SEND Local Area inspection, and therefore Sutton no longer requires a Written Statement of Action (WSOA).

The requirement for a WSOA was originally issued in March 2018 following the inspection in January 2018. The news corroborates the significant improvements to education services for children and young people with SEND in the borough that have been noted over the last two years by the DfE and NHS as well as the Council commissioned Independent Expert. SEND is a key area of the Council’s ambitious plans for education services for all.

Between 2-4 March 2020, inspectors from Ofsted and CQC re-inspected the areas of weakness identified in Sutton in January 2018: they assessed services across the Council, Health and Cognus, the provider of core education services in the borough, as well as gathering feedback from parents, carers, young people and providers such as schools.

Inspectors spoke with children and young people with special educational needs

and/or disabilities (SEND), parents and carers, as well as Council, Cognus and NHS officers. They also spoke to leaders, staff from all sectors and phases of education settings and with governors about how they are implementing the special educational needs and disability reforms. Inspectors studied and investigated a range of information about the performance of the area before summarising their findings in the report.

Councillor Marian James, Chair of the People Committee said: “At a time of uncertainty as a result of COVID-19 it is good to see services in Sutton for pupils with specific needs showing such strong improvement.

“The inspectors’ report is positive and noted the ‘seismic shift’ that has taken place, but we are not complacent: we are already focusing on the areas where we want to improve further. I would very much like to reassure families that we remain ambitious, and that regardless of a child’s need, they will receive excellent education and support services in the borough.

“We’d like to thank all our partners, schools, parents and carers and young people for their input and ongoing support throughout this process. The inspectors’ report shows that through working together we can make a significant difference: we are committed to ongoing improvement in SEND provision in Sutton, which is a great place to live, work and raise a family. We will continue to work with parents and parents groups, particularly Sutton Parents Forumto ensure we build on these foundations.”

Ian Comfort, Chair of the Cognus Board of Directors, said: “I’m extremely pleased that the commitment of colleagues at Sutton Council, the CCG, Cognus and partnership working with Sutton Parents Carers Forum, parents, carers, education settings and other agencies have been recognised by the inspectors. Over the last two years, they have really focused on addressing the issues in the WSOA and ensuring they are collectively meeting needs sooner, more effectively and with better outcomes for children and young people with SEND.”

Dr Jeff Croucher, GP Lead for Sutton BoroughTeam, NHS South West London CCG said: “We are really pleased with the results of the recent Ofsted/CQC inspection and the progress that has been made for children and young people who have SEND in Sutton. We have developed a stronger partnership with our colleagues at Sutton Council now and our collective ambition for our young people has been recognised.

“We were also pleased to see the commendation by the inspectors for the new structures the Sutton borough team from NHS South West London CCG has put in place for our designated health team and, in particular,  the recognition of our commitment to an internal designated clinical officer for SEND.

“We are continuing to work on areas that we know need improving and this will be our focus over the coming months. Most importantly, the inspection demonstrated the need to build more trust between professionals and parents and this needs to be rectified. As a health team we are meeting regularly with the local parent’s forum and providing the opportunity for parents and carers to raise any concerns they have. This will continue and we will work hard to build on these foundations and develop trust with parents and carers of children and young people with SEND in Sutton. 

“Our aim as a partnership is to ensure that all children in Sutton get the best start in life as possible.”

For more information – please visit sutton.gov.uk/info/200611/suttons_local_offer