December 12, 2019 10.04 am This story is over 21 months old

New proposals to tackle “fragmented” special needs pathways in North East Lincolnshire

Parents called said the previous system was “failing”

Council leaders in North East Lincolnshire are hoping a new pathway for special needs diagnoses will tackle the issues caused by a previously fragmented system.

The authority’s cabinet will be asked next week to take forward the new proposal which it says will be based on a multi-agency “team around the child” approach, and will bring professionals across the board together better.

It follows concerns raised earlier this year by parents of children with neurodevelopment and special educational needs who said a previous diagnosis pathway introduced in April last year was “failing” young people.

Campaigners had criticised a “paperwork only” system where families did not meet the decision makers and a lack of input from other service providers.

Councillor Ian Lindley. Photo: North East Lincolnshire

They said parents being forced to take their children as far away as Sheffield to get an earlier diagnoses, or overturn North East Lincolnshire Council’s decisions.

In July, a 1,108 signature petition was handed into the authority’s full council but parents said they were “in shutdown” at the time after feeling the council was not listening to them.

The new proposals, councillors say offers a “more joined up” and “consistent” approach.

Councillor Ian Lindley said: “Obviously the previous pathway we implemented last April and the response and feedback from parents we realised it wasn’t working in the manner intended.

“It was a very fragmented system previously around referrals, […] there was certainly a lot of inconsistency which we think we have been able to deal with now.

Cora Leeson (right) with her son Cole and campaigners who said the previous system, brought in last April, was “failing. Photo: Daniel Jaines

“We need to ensure that this is all about our most vulnerable children and we have got to ensure what we put in place is actually working.”

He said the authority had “tried to work on as many concerns as we could” but that through discussions with a large spectrum of parents he hoped they would “see a positive response”.

He promised the authority would not be “taking anything for granted” and would be constantly reviewing the pathway going forward.

Cabinet members on Monday will be asked to approve the new approach and authorise children’s services to implement and review the new approach going forward.

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