In May 2016, the two inspectorates, Ofsted and the Care Quality commission (CQC) started a new type of joint inspection. The framework reviews how well a Local Area* meets its responsibilities to children and young people (from birth to age 25) who have Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).
*The Local Area includes the local education authority, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), public health, NHS England for specialist services, Early Year's settings, schools and further education providers.
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. It reports directly to Parliament and is both independent and impartial. Ofsted inspects and regulates Local Areas to evaluate their effectiveness and promote improvement. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England.
Before the Inspection
All Local Areas are inspected at least once during a five-year period (2016-2021). Local Authorities will receive notice of the review on a Monday morning and the review will commence on the following Monday, giving five days’ notice. Inspections can take place at any point during usual school term time.
The inspection will look to answer three questions:
- Question A: How effectively does the Local Area identify children and young people who have SEND?
- Question B: How effectively does the Local Area assess and meet the needs of children and young people who have SEND?
- Question C: How effectively does the Local Area improve outcomes* for children and young people with SEND?
Outcomes are not limited to academic achievement. The inspection will evaluate how effectively our Local Area supports children and young people with SEND to “achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes", looking at Health and Social Care as well as academic achievement.
See the inspection framework and handbook for more detailed information.
We will act promptly to make sure that everyone is aware that our inspection is about to take place. The date and ways to get involved will be published on the Essex Local Offer website and the Essex Local Offer Facebook page.
During the Inspection
The joint SEND inspection team will evaluate what is working well in our Local Area and will identify ways we can improve and develop to ensure better outcomes for our children and young people with SEND.
There are usually three inspectors on the team and over the course of the 5-day inspection, inspectors will speak to our SEND services (Education, Health and Social care) about how we are implementing the SEND reforms. Inspectors will review the support provided by our Local Area for some individual children and young people to better understand how well we meet our responsibilities.
The inspectors will visit a range of early years, schools, further education and health providers and specialist services within the local area. The Local Area can propose schools and settings based on positive recommendations, however the inspection teams are at liberty to make their own selection based on key lines of enquiry.
The views of our families, parents and young people are an important part of our Local Area SEND inspection. Inspectors cannot meet parents individually, but they can and do meet with groups of parents through a webinar, which they host during each inspection.
After the Inspection
A report will be prepared and then published on the Ofsted website within 33 working days from the inspection. This will outline the evidence that inspectors reviewed and provide a summary of key findings including strengths and areas requiring further development.
Reports may include areas of significant concern that may require a written statement of action to be submitted by the local authority to identify how concerns will be remedied. A written statement of action by the local authority might be required in circumstances where the Inspectors judge that there is an illegal practice or a failure to meet the duties under the Children and Families Act 2014.
From 30 September 2019 to 4 October 2019, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Essex to inspect how effectively the local area fulfil their responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The general election meant that Ofsted could not publish our SEND local area inspection (LA) report within the normal 38 days of visiting due to purdah.
On 23 December 2019, Ofsted published the inspection report letter on their website. You can find a link to the report in this letter.