Having special educational needs or a disability should never be a barrier to a decent education.
That's why last year's Ofsted report into SEND provision in Kent was so concerning. As well as shortcomings in local services and children missing out on schooling, it found that parents were facing huge problems with communication.
Big changes were needed, and KCC brought in Councillor Rory Love to head up the Education team in the weeks after the report. On Friday we met for an update and I’m encouraged to hear about progress being made.
Their Accelerated Progress Plan (APP) plan has been approved by the Education Department and the NHS, and changes are well underway.
Earlier in the year there were 100 staff vacancies in the SEND team, and this is now down to 20 - with temporary staff kept on to help clear the back logs of enquiries. There have also been changes in leadership, and SEND education is now benefitting from best practice in the Education team.
There is going to be a huge drive for better communication, with the SEND team spending half a day a week pro-actively calling parents to update them on progress. And there's also going to be a bigger focus of making mainstream schools more inclusive, with a new strategy for schools to follow.
We now need to make sure families are feeling the difference. If you’re affected and want to make your voice heard then please do let me know.
These improvements what children deserve and it's so important they're delivered.