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A rigorous check on special education needs and disability (SEND) performance in Central Bedfordshire revealed some improvements have yet to filter down the system to parents and carers, and young people.

And the new developments on the SEND local offer need to be more widely communicated to these service users.

But the reviewers acknowledged the significant investment in resources, staff, training, multi-agency working and better quality and personalisation of education health care plans (EHCPs), according to Central Bedfordshire Council.

The local authority and BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group were required to produce a written statement of action after a critical inspection in November 2019.

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission are due to return within 18 months of an action plan from the local area being submitted, potentially from next March, according to the council.

It commissioned a peer challenge from the eastern region to monitor progress since 2019 and discover what still needs doing to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND in Central Bedfordshire.

A team of four independent SEND experts from other local authorities spent two virtual days meeting with parents and carers, young people and a range of managers, commissioners and providers, said CBC.

There was a member of a parent carer forum, an education expert, a social care representative, who’s also an Ofsted inspector, and a health representative.

A range of relevant strategy and policy documents, associated data, a sample set of anonymous EHCPs and information from the local offer were among the material scrutinised.

The aim was to see how well the local area had accurately identified strengths and areas for development through its self-evaluation process.”

The peer review recommended a focus on implementing new processes, while checking back with the SNAP parent carer forum, SEND Champions and wider groups of families of children.

It suggested the impact needs to be seen in the CBC and BLMK CCG local offer in both EHCPs, by checking quality assurance with families and providers, and in the transition and preparation for adulthood.

The team also called for communications to parents and carers to build on the transparency evident from the You Said, We Did approach to further develop confidence and partnership with families.

It also wants work on the data dashboard to embed a joint strategic needs assessment shared across health and local authorities to continue and be made available for families to understand.

And it asked CBC and BLMK CCG to consider how to address health challenges by working collaboratively on some issues, such as advice from the other local authorities with which the health providers work.

The council added: “While the review highlights the good progress made and is a useful checkpoint that changes are making a difference on our 18-month improvement journey, we’re not complacent about what more we need to do.

We’ll ensure the reviewer’s feedback about areas identified for improvement are integrated into our current action plan, so we can provide a service we can be proud of, which meets the needs of SEND children and their families.”