Special needs

Inspectors list criticisms of 'special needs' services

A senior Cumbrian health official says services for children with special educational needs rely too much on staff "going the extra mile".

The comment came after a report criticised the support offered to some of the county's most vulnerable youngsters.

Cumbria House

An inspection of services provided by Cumbria County County (pictured is its Carlisle HQ) alongside other organisations was carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

They found:

  • The impact of reforms across the county has been highly variable
  • Many parents and carers have lost faith and trust, and feel as though they must battle to gain access to the services their children require
  • Some children on the autistic spectrum, or with mental health problems, do not receive the help they need and may fall into crisis.

John McIlwraith, an executive director at Cumbria County Council, says there are a range of underlying problems.

It's in part challenges around recruitment, it's in part national challenges around funding, it's in part the growth in demand from children with complex needs who need support for longer."

John McIlwraith

Peter Rooney, of the North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, says parents and children have talked about receiving great service but he adds "the service in its entirety is too reliant on having exceptional staff".

Youngsters 'continue to be let down' by council

Allen Cook

BBC News

Children and young people with special educational needs (SEND) 'continue to be let down' by Walsall Council, a report from Ofsted has said.

A child writing
Getty Images

Some parents told inspectors they had had to give up work to 'fight' on their children's behalf.

The main findings from a joint inspection of services by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission earlier this year included SEND school exclusions are far too high and that poor communication is taking an "emotional toll" on families.

Ofsted has ordered the council, along with the clinical commissioning group (CCG), to draw up a written statement of what they'll do to tackle "significant areas of weakness".

The authority and the CCG have apologised for any poor service and say they recognise improvements need to be made.