Progress continues at pace to further improve services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Wolverhampton.

The most recent review meeting between the city's SEND Partnership Board, the Department for Education and the Care Quality Commission found ‘the area has continued at pace with sound leadership and governance to lead a coherent programme of actions' in response to a 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 'evidence of an enthusiasm across services to develop mechanisms' to show how the area monitors the outcomes for children and young people, and 'evidence of actions being taken to improve the areas of weakness identified by the inspection in 2021'.

Where there have been delays or barriers these have been escalated in order to achieve a resolution with mitigations in place in the meantime.

The review meeting also noted a 'commitment to sustainability' with the establishment of a number of new posts to support children and young people not in education, employment or training, an Inclusion and Attendance Manager and a School Improvement Advisor for Children with a Social Worker.

There was praise for the city's active parent carer forum Voice4Parents, which is 'contributing time and ideas to the development work' and is 'keen to strengthen relationships, widen engagement and to reach out to harder to reach groups', with the opportunity to further establish this with the development of the city's new Family Hubs, the first of which opened this week.

The review meeting found that there remain pressures, particularly with waiting lists for children and adolescent mental health services, with scope for a 'joint commissioning activity on co-designing services that both relieve pressure on specialist services and prevent needs escalating due to long waits'.

And it concluded that the area is now focused on completing the actions agreed in the Written Statement of Action, with these expected to be completed by early autumn. The area is also gathering evidence from professionals, children, young people and families about what is different and the impact these changes are having on the felt experience. This will also support self evaluation processes looking longer term at the SEND system in Wolverhampton.

Councillor Chris Burden, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Work, said: “The review meeting has confirmed that members of the Wolverhampton SEND Partnership Board are continuing to make good progress to improve services for children and young people with SEND, and their families.” 

The 2021 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.