Today, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have published their report into the Oxfordshire Local Area Partnership’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision.
I was relieved to see that the report validates the concerns my colleagues and I have had for some time about the Partnership’s services, and finally recognises the “widespread and systemic failings” of local SEND provision.
We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the 2,000 parents and carers who took the time to share with Ofsted and CQC their deeply personal experiences of fighting for support. I know from Ofsted that this was a significantly larger response than normal for this type of inspection.
I have long raised constituents’ concerns with the leadership at Oxfordshire County Council, but have often found them difficult to engage with. Having met a number of parents and carers to discuss their experiences, I know how challenging it has been for them to have their voices heard.
The “widespread lack of confidence in area leadership” identified in the report comes as no surprise. It is unacceptable that only 5,427 out of approximately 23,000 children and young people with SEND in Oxfordshire had an Educational, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place in January 2023.
It is right that the County Council have accepted full responsibility for their failings. They must now right their wrongs, overhaul their processes and restore confidence in the system. Those seeking help and support from the Council deserve better.
I look forward to reading the priority action plan the Partnership are now obligated to put together. I will be meeting the Chief Executive of Oxfordshire County Council, Dr Martin Reeves, later this month to discuss the next steps in further detail.
The report can be accessed here.