Children and young people with SEND (aged 0-25 years), may need extra support at nursery, school or college, or may have health and care support needs. It is the responsibility of the Somerset SEND Local Area Partnership to make sure they get this support.
The Somerset SEND Local Area partnership includes Somerset Council, the NHS in Somerset, schools and education providers. Alongside this, other local area partners such as the Somerset Parent Carer Forum provide support and feedback from the people who use SEND services.
Our improvement journey so far
- March 2020: Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) and the CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspected Somerset’s SEND services
- The inspectors said the improvements needed to be made across a number of areas, and a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) was put in place (in December 2020) to make sure that change happened.
- From 2020 to 2022 area leaders put the plans into action to make sure that significant progress was seen for children and young people with SEND and their families.
- During this time the partnership was closely monitored by the Department for Education and NHS.
Ofsted and the CQC re-visit
Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) jointly carried out a re-visit of the Somerset local area from 28 November to 1 December 2022. The re-visit evaluated how effectively leaders have addressed the nine areas of significant weakness detailed in the Written Statement of Action (WSoA).
During the re-visit, inspectors from Ofsted and CQC were keen to speak to as many children, young people and their parent carers as possible, specifically about the weaknesses identified in the WSoA.
Ofsted and CQC have now published their letter of findings. The full report can be read below
Open letter to parent carers
Claire Winter, Acting Director of Children Services and Jonathan Higman, Chief Executive of NHS Somerset have written to parent carers in an open letter below.
To all parent carers of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities in Somerset,
As many of you will be aware, we recently had a re-visit by OFSTED and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Since 2020, following the last SEND inspection we, (the Local Area Partnership; Somerset Council, NHS Somerset and schools) have worked through a Written Statement of Action to address each of the nine areas that inspectors highlighted as particularly concerning.
During the 2022 re-visit, inspectors spoke with you and read the feedback you gave via the inspection survey. This helped inspectors to assess whether we had made significant progress against each area of significant weakness. We recently received a letter which said the partnership has made progress in seven of the nine areas.
We understand and acknowledge that over the past few years, many of you have had a difficult time navigating the SEND system, struggling to receive the right support at the right time for your child. For some of you, this continues to be the case.
We are pleased that our team’s combined efforts mean that outcomes for some young people are improving. Whilst we welcome the findings, we know that we need to continue to work at pace to ensure that more of your children get the support they need. Area leaders will be meeting with regional leads for the NHS and the Department for Education to review what happens next. An action plan will be created to address the remaining two areas and this will be shared on Somerset’s Local Offer.
We will let you know in SEND News when this is published. If you currently do not receive SEND news you can subscribe here.
We remain committed to working with you, listening to you and your children, and using your feedback to drive improvements across all our SEND services.
If you would like to find out about how SEND services across Somerset are developing please visit the Somerset SEND Local Offer.
What's next: the SEND strategy
The Somerset SEND Partnership, which includes Somerset Council, NHS Somerset, Somerset Parent Carer Forum and local education providers, have consulted with the public for feedback on their updated SEND Strategy.
The strategy was shaped by extensive engagement with children, young people and families and sets out how services will be delivered and led over the next three years (2023-26).
The Somerset SEND Partnership have four key themes which outline their plan for SEND services, these are:
- Working together
- Getting help as early as possible
- Access to the right support and provision
- Preparing for the future
The consultation closed on Friday 23 December and the comments are being reviewed.
Written Statement of Action
In December 2020, Somerset Council and Somerset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group published its ‘Written Statement of Action’ (WSoA). This is a detailed plan to improve the SEND service areas identified in the first Ofsted and CQC inspection reports.
You can read the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) by using the links below.
We know we have lots of work to do to make SEND services the best they can be. We have agreed to work hard together to make these improvements.