Services for disabled children in Oxfordshire criticised

Mother walking with two children Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission carried out the inspection

Services for children with disabilities and special educational needs in Oxfordshire have "significant areas of weakness" according to inspectors.

A joint inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission found "a significant number" of parents were unhappy with their experiences.

It also said children were waiting too long to receive specialist help.

Oxfordshire's county council and clinical commissioning group said they had taken steps to address the issues.

The watchdogs said the local area must now produce and submit a written statement to explain how the weaknesses will be tackled.

Issues raised in their report included a lack of accountability, and the quality and timeliness of education, health and care (EHC) plans.

'Additional work'

Inspectors also identified a number of strengths in the services, and said young people with special educational needs and disabilities have their needs met well in schools.

They also said specialist services for hearing impairment, visual impairment and Down's syndrome were "highly regarded by parents and professionals".

Sula Wiltshire, the commissioning group's director of quality and lead nurse, said: "We accept the report and the additional work that we need to do.

"We welcome this external review and are pleased to see the strengths identified in the report as well as those areas that need further work."

Education cabinet member Hilary Hibbert-Biles said the council was determined to improve and many of the issues raised are also being flagged up across the country.

She added: "It's important to remember that Oxfordshire is among the very poorest government-funded areas for education in terms of per-pupil funding."

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