Agenda item


[Electoral Divisions: All Carlisle]


To receive a presentation (copy enclosed).



The Committee received a detailed presentation on the Cumbria Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Improvement Programme.


Members were informed that overall data for SEND was generally in line with national data and noted that those with Special Education Needs (SEN) were more likely to live in the most deprived areas of the county. 


The Committee noted there were 8,648 children and young people in Cumbria with SEN support and asked what proportion of the total population of young people this was.  The Senior Manager SEND and Inclusion confirmed this was a large percentage of children and agreed to provide more detailed information regarding the wider population.


Members were provided with an update on the progress received to date following Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of the Cumbria Local Area Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services in March 2019 which had identified nine areas of significant concern. 


The Committee was informed there was a strong leadership team with a shared ambition and rigorous oversight with a collective response provided through the SEND Partnership arrangements.


A discussion took place regarding children and young people with autism and noted that the inspection had found that those with autism and/or those who faced challenges with their social, emotional and mental health often did not receive the support that they needed.  Members noted the progress which had been made which included the offer of a second opinion for autism diagnosis, provision of support for emotional health and wellbeing for those with ADS with limited progress with regards to the ASD pathway.


Members drew attention to the provision of special schools in Cumbria and concerns were raised with regards to this provision being lower than the national school provision.  During the course of discussion concerns were also raised with regards to parents/carers having to personally contact special schools to secure a place. 


The Senior Officer acknowledged the need for increased provision and confirmed that future provision of special schools was being investigated and that an action plan had been implemented with special schools to improve service availability.  During discussion it was confirmed that the Authority consulted with special schools on behalf of parents/carers and it was agreed the Officer would investigate any specific issues.


The local Member for Stanwix Urban drew attention to the possibility of a local mainstream school providing specialist education for children with complex needs.  It was agreed that the Senior Officer would investigate this matter direct with the local Member.


A discussion took place regarding the impact of increased demand and emerging need due to the pandemic.  Members were informed that the Authority’s Learning and Improvement Team were investigating the issues with regards to lost learning and putting in interventions as appropriate.


Members raised their concerns regarding weaknesses in systems for ensuring a smooth transition and preparation for children and young people for adulthood and welcomed that this was being investigated.


The Committee noted that there was still a great deal more work to do, whilst welcoming the commitment to change and confidence in the successful shared endeavour.


The Chair thanked the Senior Officer for an informative presentation.


RESOLVED,     that the update be noted.


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