Nottingham has been praised by the Government following an inspection into support for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

A letter was sent by the Department for Education to Nottingham City Council and the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Both organisations were congratulated for their ‘collective commitment to improving outcomes for children and young people’.

It followed a report published early in the New Year from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission CQC) who recognised efforts in Nottingham to improve support for young people with SEND.

A paper on the report was discussed by senior councillors during a meeting of the City Council’s Executive Board yesterday (Tuesday).

A five-day inspection was carried out last November involving speaking to children and young people with SEND, parents and carers, and City Council and local NHS officers.

Inspectors also chose mainstream and special schools to visit. They concluded that education, health and social care leaders and professionals share a common ambition for Nottingham to be a truly inclusive place to live.

They found that local leaders were quick to respond to SEND reforms, undertaking significant and timely actions when they were introduced and putting an appropriate strategy in place to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

A coherent plan has been developed to support children and young people with SEND to prepare for adulthood, identifying what should happen at each stage of a child or young person’s school life, inspectors found.

This includes a partnership with ‘Futures’ which strongly supports young people with SEND to transfer from schools into further education, employment or training. The joint inspection report also highlighted:

  • Professionals work together effectively across services to identify the needs of children and young people with SEND
  • Early years provision for children with SEND is strong
  • Children and young people with complex needs benefit from early identification of their needs
  • The ‘Small Steps, Big Changes’ team supports families and helps children with SEND to develop their communication skills and understand their emotions and behaviour
  • The introduction of the ‘Routes To Inclusion’ initiative and the work of the Intensive Support Team is having a positive impact on supporting schools and colleges to reduce the use of exclusions
  • There is wide-ranging support for children and young people’s social and emotional well-being and mental health needs, as well as for parents and professionals working with the family.

However, the inspection report also identified areas for improvement such as communicating the support services available and plans in place to parents, carers and children and young people.

Inspectors noted that some children and young people with SEND wait too long for assessments to identify their needs, and that there is no collaborative and consistent quality assurance process for education, health and care (EHC) plans. They also found that social and recreational opportunities in the community are limited and there are gaps in provision for short breaks.

Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, Councillor Cheryl Barnard, said: “Ensuring children with special needs and disabilities have the opportunity to thrive and reach their potential is incredibly important and so I am very pleased with the outcome of this inspection. It recognises that local leadership have a clear and accurate understanding of services for children with SEND and reflects a strongly inclusive approach across partners.

“Inspectors also identify some very good partnership working with schools and early years, improving outcomes and opportunities for young people and some innovative approaches through our Routes to Inclusion work and to address mental health and wellbeing.

“We will take on board the areas for development and work with our partners to further strengthen the support that’s in place for children and young people with SEND and their families and carers.”

Read the joint inspection report here