https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/27/matthew-barnes-hmi-and-specialist-adviser-send-on-keeping-parents-of-children-with-send-informed/

Matthew Barnes, HMI and Specialist Adviser, SEND, on keeping parents of children with SEND informed

Our inspectors from Ofsted, and those from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), want to know not only how services take the views of parents, children and young people on board but also how local areas work with them to co-produce plans that will lead to the best outcomes for the children and young people. When we’re carrying out a joint inspection with CQC, we check how effective local areas are in communicating. Are they asking parents about their views? Are families involved in decision-making? Are their wishes and feelings taken on board? It’s important that inspectors know what parents think about how things are working for their child.

Meeting inspectors

We want parents to play an important role in the inspection, so our inspectors meet parents and talk to them. Inspectors cannot meet parents individually, but they can and do meet with groups of parents, via the parent and carers forum and through the webinar which they host during each inspection. To improve this process and in response to feedback, in 2016 we increased our notice period for the inspection from 2 to 5 days.

However, we’re still concerned that not all parents are having their say.

We currently have a range of ways of letting parents know that their services are being inspected. First, we tell the local area partner services that our inspection is about to take place. We send details of our webinar sign-up page to them and other stakeholder organisations. The stakeholder organisations then distribute the information to their members.  These organisations include organisations such as the Council for Disabled Children, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums and the National Deaf Children’s Society.

The webinars are a great chance for inspectors to share with parents and carers what they are doing and why, as well as being interactive and responsive to their views.  The hosts are the Ofsted and CQC inspectors who are carrying out the inspection. If parents and carers take part, and don’t feel that their questions have been answered, they can email after the event to Lasend.support@ofsted.gov.uk

Sign up to hear

What else? We tweet out the link to the webinar and give the full details of where the inspection is happening. We’ve also agreed with the popular website for parents of children who have SEND, called SEN Jungle, that they’ll help us to do this by adding the details to their website and emailing it to subscribers. You can subscribe to the site to keep up to date. SEN Jungle cover the inspections in blog posts and news stories too.

You can sign up to receive an email from GOV.UK when we add information on inspections to the page. Have a look here – it’s very simple and you can choose how often you hear from us. Our press team contacts local and regional radio and newspapers to keep them informed too.

We believe that the momentum of these inspections has encouraged local areas to act more quickly to circulate information. But if this isn’t the case in your local area – let us know.

Follow us on Twitter to hear more @Ofstednews

 

 

 

 

 

9 comments

  1. Comment by auntsally posted on

    If you want to find out how assessments and transfers are conducted why do you not talk to Independent Supporters during inspections? They are the people who support parents with these processes rather than IASS and will have extensive first hand knowledge and experience of the positives/negatives. Some IAS services do have a couple of independent supporters who are separately funded within their teams but not many. Most Independent Support is provided separately by voluntary organisations under contract to the Council for Disabled Children using money from central government. Independent Support is a recognised service mentioned in the SEND Code of Practice yet there is no mechanism for OFSTED to hear their views during an inspection. Can you explain why this should be and how you will have gained a comprehensive view without their input?

    Reply
    • Replies to auntsally>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi,

      Thank you for your query. During the inspection process, Ofsted and CQC speak to a range of local area leaders, service providers, front line staff, children and young people who have SEND and their families. In these meetings, inspectors discuss the implementation of the reforms, including strategies to implement the new Code of Practice and the experience of these strategies for children and young people who have SEND and their parents.

      During the inspection week, we ask local area leaders to organise, in collaboration with the parent carer forum, meetings with those who provide independent advice and support. We do not limit this to the IAS services, although typically they do lead these meetings. Often there are a range of individuals at these meetings from a range of services, both professional and voluntary.

      Reply
  2. Comment by auntsally posted on

    Well they are not being invited in all areas.

    Reply
  3. Comment by auntsally posted on

    Following on from this, if a voluntary or independent group would like to contribute but isn't invited to a focus group what does it do? Can it invite itself, contact the inspectors etc?

    Reply
    • Replies to auntsally>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, if voluntary organisations support parents, or want to help families engage with the inspection team, we're happy for them to pass on public information about meetings that have been arranged. However, we're not able to invite agencies to contribute on behalf of families I'm afraid.

      Reply
  4. Comment by auntsally posted on

    Sorry that rather contradicts the previous reply, which says that there is often a range of individuals from voluntary and independent services in attendance at focus groups. I'm referring to individuals who want to give their views on how the local area is performing based on their work with parents, rather than actually representing parents' views. Perhaps you could respond to my question on that basis?

    Reply
    • Replies to auntsally>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Local area SEND inspections are focused on the impact of leaders’ implementation of the reforms within the new Code of Practice on children and young people who have SEND and their families. Therefore, the views of children and young people, and parents and carers, is crucial to these inspections and a central feature of inspection activity. Lead inspectors from Ofsted and CQC work closely with the LANO to ensure voluntary organisations that are part of the local area’s strategy to implement the reforms are represented at certain meetings. For example, when discussing independent advice and support. Organisations are then able to share how they work with the local area and what the children and young people and their parents tell them about the difference this is making to their experience. There is not the time or requirement for inspectors to meet with other voluntary organisations that local area leaders do not feel represent part of the work they are doing to implement the reforms.

      Reply
  5. Comment by auntsally posted on

    So if local leaders choose not to invite Independent Support, which is more likely than any other local service to be working with families undergoing EHC assessments, do the inspectors not think that's a bit odd and think that's fine. It should make them suspicious!

    Reply
    • Replies to auntsally>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Inspectors would be curious why those providing independent support to families are not around the table at the independent advice meeting. That in its own right would say something about the commitment of the local area to do what is right for families. However, generally, independent advice meetings do have voluntary groups present. Inspectors will discuss with parents and carers who they get independent advice from and how useful it is. They will use this information to check the evaluations given in meetings reflect what families need on the ground.

      Reply

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