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Ofsted and CQC SEND Inspection of Bedford Borough Local Area

Following the local area SEND Inspection of February 2018 (Full Inspection report can be found here), Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire CCG were required to create a Written Statement of Action to address the 5 areas of weakness identified during the inspection.

Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire CCG, in coproduction with Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum worked tirelessly on addressing the areas of weakness and delivering on the outcomes set out in the local area action plan.

In February 2020, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook a revisit of the Bedford Borough Local Area to inspect the effectiveness of the actions undertaken to address the areas of weakness. Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) agreed that sufficient progress is being made in addressing five significant weaknesses identified at the initial SEND inspection (Full revisit report can be found here).

Inspectors spoke to children and young people with SEND, parents and carers, local authority and NHS officers, as well as leaders, staff and governors.

In their report, inspectors hailed local leadership for implementing the changes saying they “have been integral in leading a sea change in culture at the highest levels in both the local authority and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG).”

“Leaders are tackling the failings identified in March 2018 with unflinching honesty and integrity… and

“The Parent Carer Forum (PCF) has made an influential contribution to the area’s leadership and governance. Its members are an active voice who gather the views of families. The PCF champions the rights of families where there is still work to do for children and young people with SEND in the area.”

“However, children and young people with SEND and their families are not universally feeling the benefits of the improvements made… Area leaders are fully aware of these concerns. They understand that maintaining the pace of improvements is essential if they are to reach families in Bedford and work with them effectively.”

Cllr James Valentine, portfolio holder for Children’s Services and Education, said: “This was a demanding and wide-ranging revisit, so it is really positive to see the efforts of officers, teachers and other colleagues acknowledged by the inspectors.

“There is still plenty of work to be done and we are fully aware of this and are creating a new action plan moving forward, but this report highlights that in Bedford Borough we are determined to continue to improve services across the Borough to support children with SEND.”

Anne Murray, Chief Nurse BLMK said: “We are pleased with the result of the recent CQC re-inspection which recognises the progress that has been made. This progress has been achieved through a collaborative effort between Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Bedford Borough Council, service providers and the parents and carers who access the services. We acknowledge that work still needs to be done, but believe the significant progress we’ve made will provide a solid foundation on which to further develop quality services for the children and their families that need them. I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in moving the services forward, especially the parents, carers, children and young people for their contribution and support.”

Kerri Rennie, Chair of Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum, said: “We are pleased the inspectors have recognised the work of the Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum in representing families and challenges with in the local area. However, the result shows there is work still to be done and we will continue to highlight the voice of our families.

“We must ensure Special Education needs and/or disability (SEND) remains a top priority.  We need to hear from Parent Carers and their lived experiences. This is more important than ever during the current COVID 19 crisis so please stay in touch and we promise to do the same.”

The SEND Statement of Action for Bedford Borough is available to download here.