- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Category: News
Between 27 and 29 September 2022 Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) revisited the area of Kent to decide whether sufficient progress has been made in addressing each of the areas of significant weakness detailed in the inspection report letter published on 22 March 2019.
It was determined that Kent County Council has not made sufficient progress in addressing ANY of the significant weaknesses. As none of the significant weaknesses have improved, it is now for the Department of Education and NHS England to determine the next steps. They stated that this may include the Secretary of State using his powers of intervention.
Eight areas of weakness were reassessed, and the results do not make for comfortable reading:
Originally, parents held a concern that the local area is not able, or in some cases not willing, to meet their children’s needs. Again, it was determined that parental confidence in the local area’s ability to meet their children’s needs is at an all-time low.
For this report, almost two thousand parents took the time to share their views with inspectors. Representing the views of many, one aggrieved parent stated: ‘Communication is poor; co-production is non-existent… It feels as though my son’s needs are not being prioritised, and they don’t care. They are incompetent.’
Half of parents who contributed to the inspection consider that their children’s views are not represented well.
It must be recognised that parents do praise the hard work and support of many individual schools, medical and local area staff, and organisations. But parents should not feel lucky if they find someone to listen to them, or someone who acts on their concerns.
The Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, County Councillor Alister Brady said ‘I truly feel for parents and children across Kent. These children are some of the most vulnerable in the county and Kent County Council has clearly let them down. What I want to see is for the Leader of the Council and the new Cabinet Member for Education to explain what went wrong for there to be accountability for these failures and how KCC will now do the right thing and support these families and make it right.’
OFSTED also found that their original determination which saw ‘Weak governance of SEND arrangements across the Education, Health, and Care system at strategic and operational level and an absence of robust action plans to address known weaknesses’, had not been addressed. It concluded that leadership and governance in the Kent area is weak, including a major lack of communication, cited as a reason for these failures.
The Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Group County Councillor Dr Lauren Sullivan said ‘Based on the views of parents of SEND children which I have spoken with, this outcome is sadly not a surprise. We have had 3 years without clear direction of how to improve the service, lots of assurances at committees from Cabinet Members and Senior Officers which have meant nothing. We need accountability that is open and public for these failures at both political and Senior Officer level and not just another action plan and another lessons’ learned exercise, these must be no more sweeping under the carpet. Perhaps the Secretary of State should intervene and send in commissioners, given that there is a disparity of Ofsted judged outcomes within the same department which again raises alarm bells at not just this department but indeed the inspection regime.
What is also of grave concern is that ‘a lack of effective systems to review and improve outcomes for those children and young people whose progress to date has been limited by weaknesses in provision’, again has not been addressed.
It is clear, Kent’s children and their families have been let down, and the Kent Labour Group agrees with parents when they say they do not feel there is accountability in the leadership and management of Kent County Council. I look forward to seeking to speak to frontline members of staff to get their views on where the leadership and management failures have been and how they feel the work can be improved for children and their families.
Kent County Council, its Leader, the Cabinet Member for Education, as well as Senior Management within SEND and the CYPE Department must come forward to explain where accountability lies, why their action plan failed, and how they are going to support the most vulnerable children in Kent.
You can read the letter in full through this link: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/44/80476