Progress 'is being made against each priority area' to further improve services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Wolverhampton.

That is the main finding of the most recent review meeting between the city's SEND Partnership Board, the Department for Education and the Care Quality Commission following the Local Area Review of SEND services in 2021.

The Local Area Review highlighted a number of areas of good practice and those which require further development, and a Written Statement of Action was produced to outline the steps that would be taken by partners to further improve SEND services in the city.

The review meeting found better identification of emerging needs at primary and secondary school, with a focus on identifying need informing approaches, adjustments and support that is then put in place. Families have "improved confidence that needs will be met" and, when needed, appropriate and timely Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment referrals will be made. 

There is improved monitoring and accuracy in Education, Health and Care Plans, and timeliness is now above national average. Stakeholders demonstrate greater clarity and understanding of the pathways, and parents report improved satisfaction with the process.

The review also found there is greater clarity about preparing for adulthood, and transitions into school, from Year 6 to 7 and post 16, are "increasingly planned and supported". 

There is greater evidence of co-production, with the voice of children and young people being heard in SEND strategic developments thanks to the involvement of the HY5! Group, engagement with the wider parent carer community and the involvement of parents and carers are involved on workstreams and training opportunities with professionals.

Meanwhile, the parents, carers and professionals are working together to develop a new Local Offer website which will be launched in the coming months, and SEND inclusion support officers are sharing key messages with schools and SEN coordinators, bringing together key messages and training for both staff and parents.

Further work needs to be done around joint commissioning which is recognised as being at an early stage, and a new commissioning committee met for the first time this month involving partners from across the local area. The review found there is scope to increase the pace and work in this area on co-produced priorities, service design and action planning. 

Councillor Chris Burden, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "This latest review meeting has confirmed that members of the Wolverhampton SEND Partnership Board are continuing to improve services for children and young people with SEND, and their families. We know there is still much to do, but there has been excellent progress over the last 18 months or so, and this is continuing at pace."

The Local Area Review looked at how well the council, the Black Country Integrated Care Board, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, the Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Early Years’ settings, schools and further education providers identify, assess and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND.