Southend SEND provision under fire again in peer review

Special educational needs provision in Southend has been criticised again, in a new report which brought together experts from across the country.

An independent peer review of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services, published this week, said that Southend Council too often approaches cases from a “safeguarding” lens.

The review was carried out by the Local Government Association in November. Six reviewers, from different SEND backgrounds, spoke to more than 110 people including parents and carers, stakeholder groups, and council officers, before making their recommendations.

Reviewers also agreed with criticisms that too many Education and Healthcare Plans, which children need to access the help they need, are rejected by the council.

The review team found some areas of strength, including strong partnership working, and staff who are child-centred and “clearly care about the children and families with whom they are working”.

However the review made a number of recommendations, including a clearer way for parents to navigate the often complex SEND services and more support for families.

Laurie Burton, councillor responsible for children and learning, said: “It was really helpful to get an outside expert view on the service we’re providing, to give us the confidence in what we’re doing well  and pinpoint the areas which need more attention.

“I want to thank those who participated in the review and by doing so, played a part in helping us develop the action plan and ways in which we can deliver a better service to our children with SEND and their families.

“This includes improving communication with parents, making it easier to understand what services are available and how they can be accessed, and basically making sure that child with SEND and their families, get the support they need, when they need it.”

The council cabinet will discuss the report at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter

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