By Local Democracy Reporter
A DAMNING Ofsted report has revealed that some of Thurrock’s most vulnerable children are being let down by the authorities.
The joint inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found “significant areas of weakness” in the way those categorised with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are treated.
They have called on the council and Thurrock’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide an action plan that will rectify the problems.
Among the issues found by inspectors were parents being given with inadequate support and incorrect information, GPs failing to share health information with professionals, and records that are out of date.
Children have also been lost in the system with inspectors identifying nine children that could not be found until they had raised a concern.
The report states: “During this inspection, inspector identified nine children or young people whose whereabouts could not be quickly confirmed. Leaders immediately recognised the seriousness of the situation and made urgent enquiries to check the safety of those identified. By the end of the inspection, the whereabouts of all nine children or young people were confirmed.”
It goes on to say: “Leaders do not know whether the quality of the education provision in indepdnent schools and other out-of-borough provision meets the needs of the children and young people. There are no systematic checks or visits to the provision.
“The information in the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans is out of date and inaccurate, sometimes naming the wrong provision.”
Councillor James Halden, portfolio holder for education and health, said: “The council is fully committed to ensuring the issues identified in the inspection are addressed and that our ongoing work with parents and young people with SEND will enable them to achieve and fulfil their potential.
“Prior to the inspection we have already started a series of meetings to hear directly from parents and address their concerns and we have been involved in a positive dialogue with Ofsted about our planned improvements.”
Some strengths were identified, including strong local partnerships which have helped improve the service and positive communication among councillors who are well informed about issues relating to SEND.
The inspectors concluded the report calling on the council to produce a statement of action, which will propose what action will be taken to make improvements and the timeframe for completion.
Official Ofsted guidelines require the statement within 70 working days of the inspection and Thurrock Council claims to have already completed an action plan that will form the basis of this statement.
Jane Foster-Taylor, chief nurse for Thurrock CCG, said: “While there is room for improvement, we welcomed the inspection team’s comments about areas of really strong and good practice in reacting quickly to children’s needs.
“As Commissioners in the health pathway for children with SEND we are keen to work with our local authority colleagues to pick up on the areas for improvement as quickly as possible.”