Merton’s SEND partnership has hit targets for improvement set out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CCQ), which recognises the council and local NHS have “made sufficient progress in addressing all of the significant weaknesses identified at the initial inspection” which were first identified in September 2019.
During an inspection between 17 and 19 October this year, led by an inspector from Ofsted and a Children’s Services inspector from CQC, Merton’s SEND provision was seen to have improved in key areas set out in the 2019 report, especially around education, health and care (EHC) assessment and planning, and partnership working between education, care and health.
Changes implemented by Merton “mean that there is increased opportunity for the health needs of children and young people with SEND to be identified, and for requests for the most appropriate advice to be made,” that latest report, which has been released on the Ofsted website, said.
The report also noted that the improvements took place against the backdrop of Covid 19, noting that “despite the challenges of the pandemic, leaders have made sure that improvements have been sustained” across SEND provision.
Inspectors said parents and carers had noticed a shift in culture. “They feel respected, included and listened to. They can identify specific ways in which they now influence the direction of SEND policy. They are working with leaders to co-produce information and advice … so these are written in a way that is more easily understood.”
Mark Creelman, NHS Executive in Merton, said: “It is important that we get these services right for young people and their families, so we’re glad Ofsted and the CQC have recognised the collective efforts in Merton to make improvements, despite the challenging pandemic circumstances.
“While this report is positive, we know we need to keep building on our progress – so we will continue working together to implement further improvements for the benefit of children and young people in Merton with special educational needs.”
A spokesperson for Kids First, Merton’s forum for parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities and special educational needs, said: “The Kids First steering group are pleased Merton has made improvements in the 3 areas inspected.
“We now look forward to continuing working in partnership with the local authority and our local health providers across all areas, to improve the services and outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families in Merton.”
Cllr Brenda Fraser, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “It’s excellent Ofsted have concluded that such progress has been made addressing all the concerns raised after 2019’s SEND inspection.
“This is testament to the incredible work put in by everyone in the Children, Schools and Families team, alongside the wider partnership, and reflects the direction of travel of this key part of the council’s work.
“Last year, the Youth Justice Service and Youth Crime Prevention Executive Board received a resounding vote of confidence, and in May our Children’s Services achieved a much-coveted Outstanding rating from Ofsted.”