EIGHT key areas of focus make up the approach to “radically improve” the support given to children and young people with special education needs and disabilities.

BCP Council and NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was required to take action after a damning joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection last year.

Inspectors found a raft of significant failings, including deep cultural issues leading to weak partnership working, weaknesses in leaders’ evaluations of the effectiveness of the local area and wide variances in the quality of education, health and care plan.

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Local authorities were required to produce a written statement of action. After months of work, this was published under the title ‘Working Together to Make Things Better in BCP’.

Councillor Nicola Greene, BCP Council’s portfolio holder for council priorities and delivery, said: “We know that families want to see change quickly, and we are working hard to make improvements as quickly as possible.”

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As part of attempts to improve, BCP Council and Dorset CCG released an online video outlining their SEND Improvement Plan, with eight areas of focus.

These were listed as: a new culture, improved evaluation and communication, better co-production, improved sustainability, assessment by the right service at the right time, more consistent education, health and care plans (EHCPs), better joint commissioning arrangements, and more pupils accessing education.

Councillor Greene said: “We worked in partnership with parents, carers and other local organisations to develop our improvement plans for SEND, to make sure the actions we are taking meet the needs of the young people we are here to support.

“Over 80 parents, carers, education providers, health providers, council and Dorset NHS teams worked together to completely co-produce the plan, through 32 workshops. Parent carer groups gave a huge amount time, energy and commitment to the work, and we are enormously grateful for their support.”

Actions might take time to implement as robust arrangements need to put in place to deliver permanent improvements, Cllr Greene said.

She added that authorities had already made “good progress in many areas”.

This included work to improve the response both in terms of time and scale, and development work on new support pathways for autism and speech and language therapy, the councillor said.

“We are also recruiting a participation worker and co-production worker, to make sure children, young people, families and carers are at the centre of future work, along with an officer dedicated to improving the information available on our Local Offer website,” said Cllr Greene.