Beginning in May 2016, over the next 5 years all “local areas” (not the same as local authorities) will be visited by 2 Ofsted inspectors and 1 CQC inspector.
The inspectors will be looking at how local areas support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2016: The main way for parents to give feedback is via a webinar which is announced in the week preceding the visit. An example of webinar information is here. The Parent Carer Forum can also collate feedback. NEGATIVE FEEDBACK FROM PARENT/CARERS WAS A PROMINENT FEATURE IN THE HERTFORDSHIRE INSPECTION REPORT.
The inspectors will examine evidence on how needs are identified, the provision made to meet those needs and the outcomes of all children and young people from 0 to 25 with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
The local authority will be given 5 working days notice and the inspectors will then be in the area for 5 days. The authority will rustle up some children and parent group reps for a meeting at short notice with the inspectors.
Pages 12-13 of the Handbook say “Inspectors should take advantage of opportunities to gather the views of children and young people, and their parents and carers in the following ways: meeting children and young people, and their parents and carers, during visits to nurseries, schools and colleges at the time of the inspection; meeting established groups of children and young people and their parents and carers in the local area; talking to a range of staff who work with children and young people, and parents and carers, in a range of settings across education, health and social care; reviewing information already gathered by the local area, such as through local consultations and surveys and how this is used to evaluate and respond to the views of children and young people, and their parents and carers.”
Shortly after publication of the Handbook and Framework, Ofsted inspector Sean Harford said that parents would be able to contact the inspectors directly
At the end of the visit, if inspectors have significant concerns around illegal practice or failure to meet duties under the Act, it may be that the local area is asked to produce a written statement of action within 70 days. The framework confirms that this will be subjective (SEE FOOTNOTE 12 BELOW)
After a year the action statement will be reviewed but it would be “exceptional” for inspectors to return to an area they have already visited.
Some local authorities such as the Triborough have uncovered troubling inadequacies in their SEN service as they prepared for the Ofsted SEN inspections, which arguably would not otherwise have come to light.
Inspectors will aim for a spread of areas across the country every year and will “wherever possible, take account of the timing of other Ofsted and CQC inspection activity to avoid undue burden being placed on local areas.”
An area might be visited sooner rather than later if there is evidence of concern (see p.7 Ofsted Framework)
Inspectors will visit schools and other education providers, and will also look at specialist therapy services such as speech and language, occupational therapy and CAMHS, as well as social care services and support for young people moving between children services and adult services.
There will be a final team meeting in the local area where inspectors will give verbal feedback.
After the inspectors’ visit, an inspection letter will be published, with a summary of key findings including strengths and areas requiring further development.
NB the SEND inspection visits are entirely separate from the Ofsted Single Inspection Framework (SIF) Safeguarding inspections.