Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are carrying out a series of ‘interim visits’ to local areas to hear about the experiences of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their families and the practitioners and leaders who are supporting them during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Based on the first6 visits, children, young people and their families have had mixed experiences through this period. Some families have felt isolated, with limited contact from schools and services. Others shared a huge amount of praise for the health practitioners, social workers, local authority family support workers and school staff who had supported their children. Many of the practitioners spoke about the difficulty of trying to continue all of the services a young person might have received, including therapies, medical assessment and short breaks. However, there was also a clear commitment to finding new ways of working to improve this, using online appointments or outdoor face-to-face meetings and groups providing opportunities for social interaction and respite for families. Although most leaders and practitioners have worked hard to support the children and young people in their care, the pandemic has presented serious and far-reaching challenges for families, which have not all been possible to resolve. The visits found examples of responsive and flexible service and effective use of technology to lessen the impact of these. However, significant challenges remain. Leaders and practitioners said their priorities and plans focused on access to assessment and support, creating systems to ensure that feedback was collected from families and encouraging multi-agency collaboration to try and improve support for children and young people with SEND in the future.