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Local areas to get more notice of SEND inspections

As of May, local areas will have a longer notice period of SEND inspections in a bid to provide parents and others with a greater opportunity to contribute their views and experiences, Ofsted has announced.

The inspections of facilities responsible for children and young people with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are designed to help raise service standards for some of the country’s most vulnerable young people.

A recent survey from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) showed strong support for the inspections with 90% backing the proposal. The two have since decided to extend the notice period for these inspections from two to five days.

“I believe that the inspections will help local areas improve the services they deliver to children and young people with special educational needs or disability,” said Joanna Hall, Ofsted deputy director for schools. “These inspections will also provide reassurance to families, children and young people that local areas are being held to account.”

The first inspections will begin in May this year, and Joanna expects that initial inspections will throw up some hard truths. “However, I want to stress that our inspection reports will also highlight effective practice,” she said. “It is my hope that other local areas will learn from examples of how things can be done well so that there will be a long-term cultural change in the way these services are delivered.”

Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC, added: “Children and young people with special educational needs have the right to access the support they need from local health services. This critical work will for the first time highlight whether these needs are being met and while there could be some uncomfortable truths coming out of this work, we also aim to shine a spotlight on those local areas that are performing well to help services improve nationally.”

Inspectors will be experienced SEND specialists and Ofsted and the CQC carried out five pilot inspections. Ofsted and the CQC will prepare an inspection handbook and framework, due to be published before the first inspection.