Following an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2019 nine areas of weakness were identified.
A written statement was submitted by KCC and NHS Kent and Medway as the accountable authorities which promised swift actions and that a new strategy would be implemented to improve support for children and young people with SEND and regain the trust of parents, carers and families.
However, a follow up visit by Ofsted and CQC in September 2022 found that the local area has ‘not made sufficient progress’ in addressing the weaknesses previously identified.
Between 27 and 29 September inspectors spoke with children and young people with SEND, parents and carers, representatives from the parent/carer forum Parents and Carers Together (PACT), school leaders representing educational provision across the area and local authority and NHS staff.
They examined a range of information about the performance of the area in addressing the nine significant weaknesses identified during the initial 2019 inspection, including the area’s repositioning statement and self-evaluation.
The report found that the local area had not made sufficient progress in addressing the areas first identified in the 2019 report.
KCC and NHS Kent and Medway are immediately implementing an Accelerated Progress Plan, focussing on key areas to rapidly address the significant problems identified by the inspectors.
Dame Eileen Sills, the recently appointed Chief Nurse of the NHS Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board said: “We are truly sorry that the NHS continues to fail too many children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Kent.
“We can also understand the frustration and anger felt by parents, carers and families in Kent revealed by this report. Many of the stories are heart-breaking. It should not be so hard to get the help needed especially as we know the Covid pandemic has already put additional pressures on people’s mental health.
“Our staff have worked hard to make improvements and they are disappointed and frustrated that this hasn’t made it better for children and families.
“As a new organisation we promise we will listen to the voices of parents, carers and families and then take action, with our partners in Kent County Council and the voluntary and community sector, to make the necessary improvements so children with special educational needs and disabilities get the support from the NHS they need to thrive.”