Ofsted finds improvements but exclusion rate of SEND children in Doncaster is 'too high'

Too many children with special educational needs in Doncaster are being permanently excluded from school but improvements for pupils with disabilities have been found across the board, an inspection has found.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 12:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 7:15 pm
Services for SEND pupils are improving but exclusion rates are 'too high' Ofsted has found
Services for SEND pupils are improving but exclusion rates are 'too high' Ofsted has found

A recent Ofsted report said Doncaster Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had made positive changes to the ‘quality of health, education and social care provision’ for SEND pupils and the ‘big picture’ was of ‘steady improvement’.

But the high number of exclusions and the low rates of absence were noted in the report.

Inspectors said rates of attendance in school are ‘too low’ for children and young people with SEND and ‘too many are persistently absent’.

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‘Positive links’ between the council and academy trusts were said to be having an impact on reducing fixed-term exclusions.

Doncaster education bosses told Ofsted have made sure that systems are in place to ‘pinpoint individual settings where absence is a particular issue’ but challenging headteachers and governors but inspectors found ‘improvements at this point are too slow’.

Inspectors also found children and young people with SEND by the end of Year 11 ‘make less progress’ from their individual starting points than all pupils nationally, and other pupils in Doncaster.

Although Ofsted found some gains of progress, the rate of improvement is ‘currently too slow’.

The council and CCG were praised for giving a ‘high priority in the borough’ to the opinions of children with SEND and noted they are ‘listened to and they are able to influence the services they receive’.

The report also found support for children aged 0 to five years is ‘cohesive and coherent’.

Frontline practitioners in early years services were said to ‘show a clear commitment to improving health, education and care provision’ for young children with SEND.

Coun Nuala Fennelly, cabinet member for children, young people and schools said: “This is a positive outlook for our children and families in Doncaster who need our support to live happy and fulfilling lives.

“As the statutory lead, it is encouraging to see an improving picture for the most vulnerable children in our borough. We all need to be working together, as partners, and this report highlights how strong we are at this and how our close partnership working has improved our services in this area and puts the needs of children and young people first.

“We are acting quickly to look at all the service areas where we can carry on improving. We are committed to promoting what support is available so families and professionals know where to turn to for help and guidance.”

Jackie Pederson, chief officer at NHS Doncaster CCG added: “It is great to see that the positive work that has taken place in Doncaster to improve health and care services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities has been recognised.

“The report includes a number of helpful recommendations and we will continue to work closely with Doncaster Council to address these to further improve health and care services for children, young people and their families.”