Shropshire’s Written Statement of Action – First Steps


Following initial meetings with the Department For Education and NHS England Advisers, senior leaders from across education, health and social care services came together last week to start work on the Shropshire Written Statement of Action (WSOA).  The WSOA is required following the Shropshire SEND Inspection in January 2020.

PACC joined the meeting, along with Claire Parker, Director of Partnerships, Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Julia Dean, SEN Team Manager, Sonya Miller Assistant Director Children’s Social Care & Safeguarding, Carol Croxford Service Manager Adult Social Care, plus representatives from health commissioning and providers.  The meeting was chaired by Karen Bradshaw, Director of Children’s Services.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the six identified key areas of weakness in the Shropshire SEND system, which were identified by the inspection as;

•            Inconsistent strategic leadership and weak strategic planning across the area, most notably in the Clinical Commissioning Group (Health), including the ineffective use of data to accurately commission and plan services

•            The lack of inclusion of health services’ input into the area’s SEND action plan

•            Significant waiting times for large numbers of children and young people on the ASD and ADHD diagnostic pathways

•            Significant waiting times for those needing assessment and treatment from the speech and language therapy service

•            Inconsistency in the quality of input from education, health and care into EHC assessment and planning

•            The high rate of exclusions for children and young people with an EHC plan and the high rate of repeat fixed-term exclusions for those receiving SEND support.

The meeting looked at each of the six areas in turn and discussed initial actions to be taken.  To improve strategic leadership, it was agreed that a transparent governance structure was needed, including clear lines of accountability.  A draft structure was proposed that included a smaller 0-25 SEND Strategic Board reporting to the Shropshire Health and Wellbeing Board, with activity being scrutinised by the People’s Overview Committee and the CCG Governing Body.  A wider group, the SEND Partnership Board will deliver activity at an operational level, working closely with smaller, topic specific ‘Task and Finish’ groups, covering Preparation for Adulthood, Autism Pathway etc.

While PACC welcome a clear and accountable governance structure, we raised concerns that there is no direct parent carer representation on either the Shropshire Health and Wellbeing Board, the People’s Overview Committee or the CCG Governing Body.  We felt that this undermined the core principle of this work being co-produced, which is essential for its success.  After discussions it was agreed that there would be a lead person identified on each of the Health and Wellbeing Board, the People’s Overview Committee and the CCG Governing Body for SEND and this person would be a lead contact for PACC.  This ‘SEND Champion’ should be a senior decision maker and in the case of the CCG Governing Body, a voting member.

The need to ensure that all practitioners across all service areas, had a consistent understanding of their duties and responsibilities under SEND legislation was discussed.  This was felt to be particularly relevant in term of the local health sector, which has not always had the focus on SEND  hoped for. Ensuring that the whole workforce, across education, health and social care is well informed about SEND processes and their roles and duties in delivering the local SEND system, will improve the effectiveness of services and the support they provide.  This will also be key in improving the quality of Education, Health and Care Plans.

Finally we held initial discussions about the 3 specific areas of work identified in the inspection; excessive waiting times for speech and language therapy, excessive waiting times on the ASD and ADHD diagnostic pathway and the high rate of exclusions for pupils with SEND within Shropshire education settings.  All of these areas will be the subject of specific workstreams, which will be part of the WSOA process and will report to the SEND partnership Board.  Further discussions will be held to identify the core work to be done by these workstreams.

PACC will continue to represent the voice of Shropshire parent carers in this work and will ensure that regular updates are shared on the development and implementation of the WSOA. 

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