North Lincolnshire’s special education has been praised in a report by Ofsted and the CQC.
The area was celebrated for efforts to help young people with special needs and disabilities get better opportunities in life. North Lincolnshire was one of the few areas not to receive a written letter from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission telling them to improve.
Inspectors spoke with more than 100 children and young people, parents and carers, council staff and NHS officers during the visit in December. They looked at how SEND were identified, assessed and met, and how young people were helped to move onto work and adulthood.
At the time, 11 areas had also been evaluated for special education since the pandemic. Ten of these (91 per cent) were given a written statement of action, which is issued when Ofsted has significant concerns about education, putting North Lincolnshire in the top tier.
Ann-Marie Brierley, the director of children’s services, told a North Lincolnshire Cabinet meeting: “We are delighted with this result, and that our young people with SEND are getting the best possible start. It’s fantastic that the passion and the values we have are recognised by Ofsted and the CQC.
“The vast majority of areas were given a statement of action after being inspected. It’s a credit to everyone involved with SEND that none was received for North Lincolnshire.”
The inspection also praised the close work with schools, improved provision in mainstream schools, and good outcomes for those in post-16 education. However, it noted secondary schools pupils typically achieved below the national average.
Councillor Julie Reed, cabinet member for children and families, said: “One of the areas identified where we have room for improvement was neurodiversity diagnosis waiting times, which we were aware of and are working hard on. We are now a lot further down this road than the time of this inspection.”
The letter from Ofsted and the CQC says: “In primary schools, children with an Education, Health and Care plan are achieving good outcomes in reading, writing and mathematics. In the post-16 phase, higher proportions of young people with SEND progress to employment and training than are seen nationally.
“In secondary schools, the picture is more variable. Pupils at SEND support achieve lower outcomes than their peers nationally.”
Although the report is mainly positive, it also raises concerns from families, saying: “Some parents are concerned that the local area fails to respond to their requests for help. They express frustration that referral processes are too slow and that excessive barriers are put in place that prevent them getting support.
“Over time, many parents and carers feel that they have had to battle to get the provision and support their child needs.”