Provision for special needs children in Milton Keynes needs to be improved, say Ofsted inspectors

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Ofsted inspectors have found faults with the provision for special needs children and young people in Milton Keynes

And 10 points need to be improved, a newly-published Ofsted report has stated.

Government inspectors scrutinised all the services provided by the council and the local NHS board for children and young people with SEND in the city.

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And, while some processes were praised as effective, 10 areas were declared as needing improvement.

Milton Keynes CouncilMilton Keynes Council
Milton Keynes Council

These included the time it takes to identify the needs of some children, meaning their problems escalate due to delays and they need more intensive support later on.

The wait times for mental health services and speech and language therapy are also too long, said the inspectors.

And they said the quality of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans should be improved so they are “fully valued” by all agencies to ensure the right support is offered.

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Milton Keynes City Council and the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (ICB) are jointly responsible for the planning and commissioning of services for youngsters SEND in Milton Keynes. Ofsted has now asked them to work together to make improvements.

Milton Keynes CouncilMilton Keynes Council
Milton Keynes Council

They must also publish a strategic plan to address the areas highlighted as “could do better”.

One of these is the fact that there is no single neurodevelopmental assessment pathway. For children and young people with features of both autism and ADHD, this means they have to be assessed on both pathways, resulting in “duplication and ineffective use of resource”.

The report also seeks improvements in the use of shared data, the gap in post-16 education places for young people with complex mental health needs, and the clarity of health and care needs in EHC plans.

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“There is variability in the coherence and relevance of EHC plans...Multi-agency working is not always effective. Sometimes emerging mental and physical health needs are not identified quickly enough,” states the report.

However, some aspects of the city’s work with SEND children were praised. Many achieve “positive educational outcomes and lots of opportunities to get involved in their community, it states.

It adds: “Many children and young people in MK receive swift identification and assessment of their needs, ensuring they get the support they require to do well. However, this is not the case for all. This is often due to a lack of collaboration between professionals across education, health and social care.”

But, once needs are identified, expert help is usually provided by knowledgeable and skilled practitioners, said the inspectors.

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“There are clear processes in place to ensure that children and young people are placed in the right educational settings and their needs are met. Those placed in special schools benefit from the required expertise and support,” they added.

For families moving into MK, there are “strong systems” for placing children in school quickly and leaders are ambitious for SEND youngsters.

The report concluded: “The local area partnership needs to strengthen its strategic evaluation and oversight for children and young people with SEND”.

You can read the full Ofsted report here.

The council’s Cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Joe Hearnshaw, said: “We’ll build on the strengths identified in the report and act on its recommendations as we’re committed to improving how children with SEND and their families receive the right support.”