Ofsted has this week published its annual report examining the quality of schools, early years, children's social care and further education and skills.

The report identifies some key concerns about support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), with local area SEND inspections identifying some “serious weaknesses in SEND provision overall”. Children and young people with SEND are also identified as having been particularly vulnerable under the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, with their access to education and healthcare seriously adversely affected.  

The report makes absolutely clear that joint commissioning by local authorities in SEND provision is, and continues to be, a significant problem: “accountability is unclear: there is generally a lack of understanding about who is responsible for what between organisations, resulting in fractures in the way professionals in services work together. In many cases, the goal of creating a child-centred system is not being fully met. Area arrangements for identifying, assessing and meeting children and young people’s education, health and care needs are frequently slow. Too often, families are left feeling dissatisfied with their experience of area SEND arrangements because the quality of services and support fall short of what was envisaged in their children’s EHCPs.”

This issue of poor joined up working is something that we at IPSEA see over and over again. Ali Fiddy, IPSEA’s Chief Executive, said:

“As this report recognises, it is important to acknowledge that the existing crisis in SEND provision prior to the pandemic has deepened further and that children and young people with SEND were, and continue to be, particularly hard hit by the government’s response to COVID-19. IPSEA calls on the government to tackle the issues that are repeatedly identified to ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the education they are legally entitled to.”

Read Ofsted’s full report here.