The initial findings of the recent 'thematic review' of services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Wolverhampton have been shared.

The review by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission took place in February and looked at how partners in Wolverhampton – including the City of Wolverhampton 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 – work together to prepare children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) for adulthood.

It was the first thematic review in England to be carried out under a new framework launched earlier this year. It focused on 4 key areas, employment, independent living, community inclusion and health, and the findings will help to promote improvement in SEND services locally and nationally.

During the visit, inspectors spoke with local leaders, children and young people with SEND, their families, and the education, health and care professionals who work with them. They also reviewed relevant documents and visited a variety of settings.

Inspectors heard about arrangements for children moving from early years settings to primary school, and from primary to secondary, which are helping children and professionals prepare for transition, and about plans to develop a similar process for young people moving from secondary to further education, or to other post-16 options.

They were also told about Connexions’ work to give children and young people with education, health and care (EHC) plans bespoke careers education, information, advice and guidance, which is helping young people from Year 9 to consider their options in relation to employment, further education or training, and about supported internships which have provided positive outcomes, and sustained employment, for young people with SEND in the city. 

There was also praise for the support of the outreach team, sensory inclusion service, the habilitation team and educational psychology service, which is welcomed by parents, carers and settings and is helping settings prepare children and young people for adulthood. 

Meanwhile Wolverhampton Virtual School was highlighted for its work to provide early preparation for adulthood to children and young people in care from Year 8, with an enrichment offer enabling them to experience activities and events such as sports, theatre visits and music lessons. 

Inspectors heard about the transformation work underway to improve transitions into adulthood, and met with young people who are settled into their own supported accommodation and receiving individualised support to help them attend education and to develop their independence and life skills.

Meanwhile, the availability of equipment and aids to support children and young people with daily living effectively was praised for helping to improve their independence.

Inspectors discovered a range of universal and targeted support services available to children and young people with SEND in Wolverhampton, from local football clubs to supportive charities and youth clubs, which is helping ensure that children and young people, including those with complex health needs who have support from community nurses, are visible and valued. 

Health services were recognised the importance of supporting children and young people to prepare for adulthood, with both the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) and children community paediatric services investing to bridge the gap between children’s and adult services and which is helping to improve the young person’s experiences at this stage of transition.

They found partners use a wide range of data to inform and update joint commissioning and, as a result, parents, carers, children and young people receive support and guidance to help meet their health needs.

And they were also told about several initiatives and services to support clinical transfer from children’s to adult services, including nurse-led transition clinics and coffee mornings for parents, carers and young people to help them to understand the next stage in their care. 

The review was the first of a series taking place nationwide this year and will provide insights for Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, government, strategic leaders and frontline education, health and social care practitioners to promote improvement in the sector and update approaches to inspection, as appropriate. The information gathered from the thematic reviews in Wolverhampton and elsewhere will help inform a national report that sets out overall findings which will be published in the autumn.

Councillor Jacqui Coogan, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: "We and our partners are committed to ensuring our children and young people with SEND have the very best chances in life, and this thematic review was a chance to shine a light on the excellent work that goes on, day in and day out, here in Wolverhampton, and to look at ways we can improve our services further still.

"I would like to thank everyone who was involved - the professionals, the parents and carers and, most importantly, the children and young people themselves, and I look forward to seeing the findings of the national report, and how we may further improve services for children and young people with SEND, in due course.”