A NEW Ofsted report praised improvements made to the Swindon areas's services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

After an inspection carried out in November 2018, Swindon Borough Council and the BANES, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group had to improve eight areas of their services.

Since then, the local authority and health group have worked with young people, their families and partner organisations to work on those changes. Ofsted and CQC inspectors visited Swindon in October this year to assess the progress in each of the areas they highlighted last time.

Inspectors spoke with children and young people with SEND, parents and carers, teachers and leaders from schools, the parent carer forum (Swindon SEND Families Voice - SSFV), and local authority and National Health Service (NHS) officers, and considered 211 responses to an online survey for parents.

They found that enough progress had been made and that senior leaders took their responsibility to sort out the problem areas seriously while facing challenges caused by the pandemic.

The report summarises that the service will no longer receive regular monitoring visits from the Department for Education or NHS England because senior leaders know their services well and have the ability to continue with their robust self-assessment and improvement plans to take SEND forward.

Coun Mary Martin said: “Looking after our children and young people is a key priority for the council and I am delighted to see the positive outcomes of this Ofsted report.

"The dedication shown from officers within the council and colleagues at the CCG to improve the SEND service and ensure better support is provided for children, young people and their families is fantastic and I’m glad this has been recognised and reflected in the report.

"Well done and thank you to all involved for the continued support you provide to our children and young people.”

Corporate director of children's services David Haley added: “This report demonstrates the significant progress that has been made by our SEND services since the previous inspection in 2018.

"It is a testament to our colleagues and partners for their commitment to driving forward improvements and I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress we have collectively achieved.

"That being said, we know there is still progress to be made and we are determined to continue improving services for our families, working with them to get the best outcomes for children and young people in Swindon.”

Gill May is the director of nursing and quality for the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

She said: “The improvements that have been made to the SEND services offered in Swindon since 2018 will help the town’s young people to access the care and support needed to live a happy, healthy and independent life.

“We are committed to ensuring improvements continue, and we will work closely with partners and, most importantly, parents and carers and to make sure the voice of children and young people is at the heart of all our decision-making.”

Rebecca Harrison and Michelle Lloyd are the co-chairs for Swindon SEND Families Voice. They said: “Over the last three years, we have been working towards the voices of parent carers being more widely recognised and heard within Swindon's SEND services, which has resulted in some great collaborative work alongside Swindon Borough Council and the BSW Clinical Commissioning Group.

"We feel this joint working has contributed to significant improvements of the services offered to SEND families in Swindon.

“We are keen for all SEND services in Swindon to be continuously improved on so that families’ experiences are positive and the services they receive are inclusive and provide high quality care and support.

“With this in mind we hope going forward that Swindon SEND Families Voice will continue to be at the heart of shaping these services and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the re-visit for listening and allowing us to advocate on behalf of SEND families in Swindon.”

A copy of the full report can be found at https://localoffer.swindon.gov.uk/content/send-local-offer/landing-pages/document-library-landing-and-content-pages/send-local-area-inspection/