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Improvements needed in Cumbria's special education services, says report

Credit: PA

There are "significant areas of weakness" in services for children in Cumbria with special educational needs, according to inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission and Ofsted found a range of improvements are needed to sure a better service is provided for children with physical and mental disabilities.

The report showed:

  • Some parents and carers have lost 'faith and trust' in the service.
  • Children, young people and their families have too little say in decisions.
  • The transition from child to adult services is less coherent.
  • The impact of improvements across Cumbria has been variable
  • 'Lack of joint working between health, care and education' which suggests leaders across the partnership have not worked together effectively.
  • John Macilwraith, Executive Director of People, Cumbria County Council

Despite criticisms the inspection, which was carried out at the end of March, highlighted a number of strengths:

  • Service users have praised some front-line workers, describing them as 'going above and beyond.'
  • Cumbria has a higher amount of young people with SEND in mainstream schools.
  • Special schools work well together.
  • Many of the most vulnerable young people are appropriately fast-tracked for diagnostic assessments.

We were aware that parts of our services were not good enough for children and young people and it is a priority for us to see services improve. This is a complex and challenging area of work which is under severe pressure as a result of increasing demand on services and the increasing complexity of children’s needs.

“The report is helpful as it provides further evidence that we are moving in the right direction and we will continue to improve our services despite the pressures and restrictions we are dealing with.”

– Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member of Schools and Learning at Cumbria County Council