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Matthew Barnes, Specialist Adviser, SEND, on local area SEND inspections and the myths surrounding them

Matthew Barnes, Specialist Adviser, SEND, on local area SEND inspections and the myths surrounding them

We know that early identification of SEND is important to a child’s future prospects. It means that good levels of support are then sustained from early years into adulthood. This is critical if young people are to flourish.

Our joint inspections test out how well local areas identify and support needs, and improve outcomes for children and young people.

It has been just over a year since Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) started our joint local area SEND inspections. The framework and the inspection handbook set out how we conduct the inspection and the aspects we will inspect and report on. But there are still some myths about these inspections, including:

We might go to different settings and hold meetings with different personnel, but the whole team share evidence and reach decisions together.

The inspection team decide who to meet when they set up the inspection. Any parent can meet with inspectors when we visit settings. Parents from across the local area are also encouraged to join our online webinar to share their views with the inspection team.

We have lines of enquiry we investigate and we gather evidence against the inspection framework for education, health and care. We report on the main strengths and areas needing development in each local area.

We have had some very positive feedback from those we have inspected so far. People tell us that they appreciate:

  • the heightened focus within the local area on SEND – they say it helps their discussions and planning with managers and elected members
  • ongoing discussions with the inspectors during the inspection – this helps professionals development and sharpens their analysis and planning skills
  • the multi-agency approach, which gives leaders and professionals a deeper understanding of how effective they are and what they need to improve

We will continue to address myths as they occur. Please email us if you have any questions.


See all the blogs in the series on the Ofsted website

View a series of videos (on You Tube) from Ofsted about SEND Local Area inspections