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Mark Sutton
Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council

Pledge for better working to support special needs children

Staffordshire County Council will bring partners and families together to improve services for children with special needs following a review.

A joint report by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission into the delivery of Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) in the county that is commissioned and delivered by the county council and schools with support of the Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), identified a number of areas to be improved.

These include:

  • better coordination and delivery across services;
  • sharing good and effective work across the county;
  • more support for children using Pupil Referral Units;
  • improving pupils’ academic results;
  • returning pupils with SEND to mainstream education.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said:

We are aware some areas need improving and we are clear that we must do more with our partners to ensure families receive the right support at the right time.

In the last five years the number of children with a special educational need or disability in Staffordshire has increased by a third to more than 15,800, but government funding has not kept pace.

We have done a great deal, and the report identifies some strong pilot schemes, but there is no doubt that we have struggled to cope with this large increase.

However, the report clearly identifies where we need to focus and we are committed to working with health services, schools and parents themselves to do better.”

The report’s authors note that a great deal of work has begun in the last 12 months to improve matters, including successful new approaches piloted in South Staffordshire and Leek where people are working together in their communities to reshape SEND support

Parents, schools, MPs and user groups in the county were consulted before Christmas as to how they would like to see Staffordshire’s SEND provision develop and their responses are currently being collated and will form part of the plan.

Mark Sutton said:

We are committed to getting this right, both in the short and long term.

The county council, Staffordshire’s CCGs and other health providers will be working very closely together to develop our plans and we will be writing to Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission setting out how we intend to deliver services that enable every young person to receive the help they need.”

Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer for the Staffordshire CCGs, said:

Whilst we acknowledge there is work to do to address areas of joint responsibility, there were some very positive messages around some aspects of the SEND agenda which the CCGs are involved in and supportive of and that we will continue to work in partnership to improve.

This was an important and valuable inspection for the children and young people of Staffordshire.”