Stockton special needs provision 'concerning'

Stockton Borough Council Image copyright Google
Image caption Stockton Council runs special educational needs and disabilities provision in partnership with a number of other bodies

Two watchdogs have "significant concerns" over a council's care for young people with special needs.

An Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection found "significant weakness" in Stockton's provision.

Their report said exclusions were too high, waiting times for diagnosis were too long and some parents had to "fight hard" to get needs identified.

Stockton Council and the clinical commissioning group said they were working on an action plan.

In a joint statement, they acknowledged "the issues highlighted in the report" and said they were "fully committed to working together to devise and implement an action plan to improve provision and outcomes for these children".

Not heard or understood

Inspectors found communication and engagement with parents of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) were "underdeveloped".

Parents did not always feel their views were either heard or understood, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

"Parents told inspectors of the need to tell their story several times to different professionals, sometimes within the same organisation," the report said.

Inspectors spoke to parents, young people with SEND, council staff and NHS workers in February.

They praised the mental health "crisis service", improving academic performance and teachers in mainstream schools sharing expertise.

The local authority has previously overspent on its SEND budget saying government funding had not kept pace with rising demand.

It paid £950 and apologised to the family of a child with Asperger's Syndrome last year, after failings in setting up an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) for the teenager and a failure to provide suitable alternative education.

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