Rutland County Council has welcomed the findings of a rigorous Peer Review to assess the strength of local services that support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The Peer Review programme is part of the East Midlands Local Authority Regional Improvement Network, whereby independent experts with specialist knowledge are brought in to review key services by councils and the partners they work with. This is done to help critique and challenge how services are run, highlight strengths and identify any areas for development.
Rutland undertook the week-long peer review of its SEND and Inclusion Service in September. It involved five independent reviewers from outside the county, including a reviewer who was also a parent and carer. Rutland County Council asked the Peer Review team to carry out a thorough assessment of the lived experiences of children with SEND and their families and to test Rutland’s multiagency response to families, as well as the quality of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP).
As part of this process, the Peer Review team met members of the Rutland Parent Carer Voice (RPCV) group, as well as interviewing local parents and carers directly. The team also met young people from Rutland Youth Forum and Young Carers groups. They spoke to more than 40 practitioners involved in the running of local SEND services and reviewed key written documents.
Following this work, the Peer Review team has published a report that highlights where Rutland’s SEND and Inclusion service is performing well. Among its key findings, the Peer Review team noted that Rutland has a clear and demonstrable vision and strategy for SEND and Inclusion, which is shared across local agencies. The report states that Rutland’s leadership is fully focussed on SEND and Inclusion, as well as knowing their population and recognising areas for development. The report also praises the dedication and passion of Rutland’s workforce and stakeholders, which reviewers said was apparent in all its interactions with practitioners. Most positively, reviewers said that SEND practice in Rutland was some of the best they had seen in the region and beyond.
Communication was also found to be a strength between local authority partners, families, schools and providers, supported by the RPCV. Reviewers highlighted the strategic roles of both the RPCV and Youth Forums, who make significant contributions to the multi-agency working across the county.
As a result of the Peer Review, Rutland County Council has also been told where further improvements could be made to local SEND and inclusion services. Reviewers noted that Rutland’s developing model of inclusive practice within schools is positive, with more work needed to identify additional needs at an earlier stage of children’s development. Outcomes for children and young people are good at all stages of educational performance in Rutland and more training on writing outcomes in plans and reviews would strengthen this. The review team have also offered to broker support for Rutland to develop its success measures more clearly and to develop its quality assurance processes.
Councillor David Wilby, Cabinet Member for Education and Children services at Rutland County Council, said: “This report gives a good account of our strengths but, importantly, also indicates where we can make further improvements to our support for children with SEND. I was heartened to see that our practitioners were considered passionate in their approach and always have the best possible outcomes in mind for children.
“We will now follow up on the recommendations made by the Peer Review team. In particular, I hope we can continue to build on our relationship with parents, carers and young people. Moreover, we will take up the offer of help from our neighbouring colleagues who can assist us as we work to continuously improve.”
Chris West, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “The ICB welcome the improvements made to SEND in Rutland and progress towards addressing the SEND health workforce capacity across LLR and for Rutland place.”
The full report detailing the findings from the Peer Review of Rutland’s SEND and Inclusion Service can be read in full by going to: www.rutland.gov.uk/SEND.