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BUILDING A BETTER BURY FOR THOSE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Partners across Bury have been working together to ‘get it right’ for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Following a critical report after an Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in June 2017, Bury Council and NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have just heard back from Ofsted and CQC that their Written Statement of Action to Ofsted has been deemed fit for purpose in setting out how the local area will tackle the significant areas of weakness identified in the published report letter. Over the past four months partners in the local area have worked together to explore how they can collaborate to improve arrangements for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability. Karen Dolton, the council’s interim executive director for children, young people and culture, said: “We have turned the challenge presented to us in the report findings into a real opportunity to get it right for Bury. Although we were working on areas that needed improving, we have used the inspection outcomes to accelerate the pace of actions and make sure we are really meeting the needs of our children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. It’s fantastic news that Ofsted and CQC have approved our Written Statement of Action without the need for any amendments.” In his letter to Bury Council and NHS Bury CCG, Andrew Cook HMI (Regional Director, North West for Ofsted and the CQC), commented on their Written Statement of Action: “It is clear that these actions are to be led by Bury Metropolitan Borough Council and Bury Clinical Commissioning Group. The inspectors are happy to note the level of co-production that has taken place in producing this statement of action.” CQC/Ofsted inspections take place under the Children and Families Act 2014, which was introduced to implement the SEND reforms and bring about positive changes for children and young people with special educational needs and disability. The inspections take place to check the effectiveness of new SEND arrangements in local areas and to evaluate how well partners across education, health and care are fulfilling their new duties. The Local Area inspection of Bury was completed by CQC/Ofsted in June 2017 and identified a number of significant weaknesses and eight specific areas which require improvement. An intense and highly productive four months followed, which included a number of themed focus groups involving partners across the borough and parents of children and young people with SEND. The outcomes from the focus groups have helped form the new SEND strategy for Bury and have contributed to the Written Statement of Action. Bury2gether, the new forum in Bury for parents/carers of young people with SEND, has been actively involved throughout the SEND educational review. The purpose of Bury2gether is to ensure services are designed to meet the needs of young people and their families. Bury2gether said: “Parents’ views have been welcomed at the focus groups by a wide variety of professionals from the local authority, health, schools and the voluntary sector. Professionals are now recognising the benefits of working in partnership with parents and embracing the suggestions and solutions they offer. The focus groups have shown that there’s a recognition that something different needs to be done in Bury. “We welcome the fact we have been involved from the beginning. There is still a long way to go, but we’re now confident parents’ views and representation will continually be part of the structure in Bury.” Bury2gether is keen to grow a diverse and representative forum, so welcomes more parents in becoming involved in the work going forward. Any parents who wish to become involved are encouraged to become members via our website www.bury2gether.co.uk. Brian Duffy, head teacher at Tottington High School, said: “The workshops provided a gritty platform for genuine discussion to take place covering the current arrangements in Bury – positives and areas for improvement – as well as how we would like it to be in future and what we need to do to get there.”

 

Pat Jones-Greenhalgh, the council’s interim chief executive, said: “The council was already working with NHS Bury CCG and other partners prior to the Ofsted visit as we were aware our services needed improving. The report was helpful in its clear identification of areas which required attention. It was also encouraging to be praised for the services where we were marked as good.” Karen Dolton added: “We are excited at how much partners across health, education and care have come together to take collective responsibility for improving Bury’s arrangements for its most vulnerable children and young people and we are now working with partners to construct a programme of activity that allows us to provide a better and more sustainable service for children and their families with SEND in Bury.” Stuart North, chief officer for NHS Bury CCG, added: “We welcomed the review of SEND services earlier in the year, and while there was lots of good practice happening in Bury there were many areas where improvements needed to be made.We have been working in partnership with the local authority and other organisations locally to deliver the changes to ensure that the experience of children, young people and their families who access these vital services is a positive one.” Responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of the Statement of Action sits with the SEND Partnership Board which reports to the Health and Wellbeing Board. In addition, the Department for Education and NHS England will conduct three-monthly visits to ensure progress is being made. Councillor Rishi Shori, leader of Bury Council, said: “This is about being smarter with our budgets. We want to be engaging with more parents over the next couple of months. We knew it was not going to be an easy journey. This is just the start to us making a difference that genuinely impacts the lives of those we are trying to reach.”

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