Bexley SEN department given worst possible Ofsted rating as care plans found to be ‘well out of date’

By Staff

Bexley Council’s special education needs department has been given the lowest possible rating by Ofsted, with many children having educational, health and care plans that were ‘well out of date’. The watchdog has told the council and South East London Integrated Care Board to urgently address significant concerns which reportedly arose from ‘systemic failings’.

The inspector said in their report that the quality of children’s educational, health and care (EHC) plans varied considerably. They added that children were not supported to prepare for adult life early enough and their voices were not heard well.

The report said: “Too many children and young people across different ages and phases have an EHC plan that is well out of date and does not reflect their current needs or provision… These and other significant weaknesses all combine to mean that children and young people do not receive the right support at the right time.”

READ MORE: Average Bexley household to pay £2,155 in 5% council tax rise with one of the highest bills in London

The Bexley Labour Group said in a statement that the council had an ‘inconsistent’ approach in devising EHC plans. It added that the authority’s cabinet members had previously suggested problems with the plans were due to mistakes made by schools, parents and carers.

The group said: “We have consistently raised the concerns of parents specifically around the areas of EHC plans and yet these concerns have been ignored. We have continuously raised the fact that many parents were getting in touch to let us know that EHC plans were either out of date, insufficient and in some cases had not been issued.”

However, the authority was praised for its ambition to put significant investment into increasing the places in special schools. Children were said to achieve well academically and young adults with learning disabilities reportedly had their health needs reviewed annually.

The inspector said in their report: “Leaders across the partnership take opportunities to listen to the views of parents, including through the parent carer forum, known as Bexley Voice. The regular ‘tea and talk’ sessions help professionals from across education, health and social care to interact with parents, for example in group sessions.”

The Bexley Local Area Partnership, which includes Bexley Council and the South East London Integrated Care Board, said in a statement that it was disappointed with the outcome of the recent inspection. It acknowledged the need to make improvements in certain areas to meet the needs of children and young people in the borough.

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The statement said: “As a partnership, we had already identified some of the areas that the inspection highlighted, through self-evaluation and joint working, and commenced delivery on these.”

It added: “The partnership has acted swiftly and is currently developing an action plan to address the remaining issues highlighted by inspectors. This includes listening to the voices of children and young people when designing and providing relevant support services, and recognising the need to work as an integrated partnership to guarantee consistent access to therapeutic services to meet their needs. We will endeavour to continually improve and provide the highest quality of care to those who access our SEND support services.”

The report said a monitoring inspection will be carried out on the council within 18 months, followed by a full reinspection within three years. The authority is also required to send a priority action plan to address the areas needed for improvement.

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