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"No plans to use intervention powers" over Suffolk special educational needs, education bosses confirm

PUBLISHED: 14:45 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:45 02 May 2019

Suffolk County Council said discussions over special educational needs with the DfE and NHS England were positive. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council said discussions over special educational needs with the DfE and NHS England were positive. Picture: ARCHANT

Health and education chiefs in Whitehall say there are no plans to use intervention powers for Suffolk's ailing special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) service.

The SEND service failed a re-inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in March – the first service in the country to fail its revisit.

It meant that the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England have now become involved, and, following a first meeting in London on Monday, the DfE has said the service now has an action plan in place that should ensure rapid improvements.

“Our ambition is for high quality services in every local area for all children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities,” a DfE spokeswoman said.

“Suffolk now has an action plan in place to speed up progress and this will be reviewed in a meeting with key partners later this year.

“We will continue to work closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement to support Suffolk to make improvements to services.

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“We have no plans to use any formal intervention powers at this stage.”

A full action plan is to be published and a follow up meeting organised in the next six months, most likely in September.

Suffolk Parent Carer Network – the official forum for parents and carers that works with dozens of families – was controversially denied a seat at the table during the meeting, but the DfE has said that SPCN will be invited to the progress meeting.

Vivienne Stimpson, director of nursing for NHS England East, said: “NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with the Department for Education to support our partners in Suffolk to make improvements to services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

“Since the Ofsted and Care Quality Commission report was published in March 2019, an action plan has been put in place to ensure progress is made. This will be reviewed at a further meeting later this year.”

A spokeswoman on behalf of the CCGs and SCC, said the ambition was to ensure that every child could expect a high quality service, and added: “We had a productive discussion with the Department for Education and NHS England about the future of SEND services in Suffolk and the action plan that is needed to make further improvements.

“The DfE and NHS England will follow the meeting up with a letter in due course and a progress meeting will be scheduled.”

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