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The Council welcomes the start of an Ofsted and Care Quality Commission inspection

05 March 2024


West Northamptonshire Council has today welcomed the start of an Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection into local services for children with special needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

The inspection process starts this week and will run until 22 March, with Ofsted and CQC looking at the full range of SEND services for children and young people across West Northamptonshire. This will not only involve them spending their time with children and their families, but also speaking with colleagues from across the local SEND partnership, including WNC, our Children's Trust and partners such as schools and health care providers.

The inspection is set against a national backdrop of increased demand for SEND services being experienced by local authorities across the country, including West Northamptonshire. It also comes less than a year after the publication of the Partnership’s three-year strategy to improve SEND services, co-produced with local families and partners in September 2023. Although it is still early days in the Partnesrhip’s improvement journey for SEND, work is progressing against the six key priorities within the strategy.

Cllr Fiona Baker, Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Education and Skills at WNC said: 

We welcome this inspection as an opportunity for Ofsted and CQC to see the strong foundations we have been laying to improve outcomes for youngsters several months on from the launch of our new three-year SEND strategy co-produced with local families and partners. But we also know that this inspection comes in the very early days of our improvement journey, where many families will not yet be able to feel the impact of the gradual progress we’re making.

“We know we still have a long way to go to address our SEND challenges and fully expect this inspection to reaffirm that, but we also hope it will recognise the early and firm steps we’ve been taking towards improving outcomes for families.”

Actions already being taken against the six priorities set out for our first year of delivering the strategy include:

  • Launching a new effective co-produced Local Offer: the online directory was launched in January 2024 to help families find the right service, support group or activity as easily as possible. Developed with partners, young people and their families, the Local Offer website is a user-friendly online platform that brings together a range of information about the SEND services available locally, including youth clubs, early years support, social care and transport, as well as health services and much more, helping people to find exactly what they are looking for.
  • Opening 75 new places for children and young people with SEND: We continue to meet our overarching aim of 600 news places by September 2025 providing children and young people with the right environments to meet their needs. Plans are also progressing well to open a new special school in the South of the county which will create a further 250 places. 
  • Commissioning a new Educational Psychology service to clear the backlog of cases: the Council is appointing a team of educational psychologists, with the aim of seeing a reduction in the backlog of those waiting to receive an educational psychology assessment by the end 2024.
  • Focusing on improving learning and development , including publishing a centralised training offer and developing and promoting a programme of supported Internships, Traineeships and Apprenticeships: in February the first ‘Business Brunch’ was held, bringing together local employers to start the conversation around employment opportunities for young people with SEND and how together, improvement can be made on current employment figures in West Northants. This work continues to be core workstream to implement and support development in this area.

The result of the inspection is due to be published by Ofsted and CQC later this spring.

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