Ofsted and CQC SEND re-visit completed in May 2021
Following our recent special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) re-visit by Inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), we are pleased to report that Cheshire East has made sufficient progress in addressing the two areas of significant weaknesses identified at our previous inspection in 2018. These were:
- the timeliness, process and quality of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans
- establishing an effective autism spectrum disorder (ASD) pathway and in reducing waiting times
Ofsted and the CQC jointly carried out a SEND re-visit to Cheshire East on 24 May to the 27 May 2021, with activities carried out virtually and in person. Inspectors looked at how we have improved since the previous joint local area inspection of SEND in March 2018 and the publication of our SEND Written Statement of Action (WSOA). Our SEND Inspection page provides more information about the previous SEND Inspection and our SEND WSOA .
During the re-visit, Ofsted and CQC inspectors spoke with children and young people, parents and carers, as well as council and health professionals. They reviewed performance data and evidence and listened to the views of more than 700 parents and carers who responded to an online survey. Inspectors summarised their findings in a letter, which is published below.
Inspectors found that, since their last visit, the timeliness, process and quality of EHC plans have been transformed, saying that by early 2020, almost every needs assessment was completed within the 20-week deadline, compared to less than one in six in 2018. They also found that from the beginning of the process, professionals worked closely with parents, children and young people to accurately reflect their needs, stating that ‘co-production is at the heart of every EHC needs assessment’. In summary, inspectors heard from parents, carers, children and young people about the positive impact these plans have on their lives.
Regarding support for children and young people with autism, inspectors found that more children are starting nursery and school with their needs understood and met. Families have also been offered support and training, so they can better understand and support their child. In terms of waiting times, back in 2018 over 200 children and young people were waiting more than 12 weeks for their first assessment, but by March 2020, this had reduced to two.
Inspectors have not highlighted any new weaknesses, but we recognise the need for more effective communication with parents and carers, as many who responded to the online survey were not yet convinced of service improvements.
Cheshire East’s Progress against the Written Statement of Action
The following documents set out the key changes and impact of Cheshire East’s actions to improve in relation to the written statement of action, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accessible versions of these documents can be provided on request; please email: SENDInspection@cheshireeast.gov.uk