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Medway SEND services are inconsistent, says report

Children with special educational needs in part of Kent receive "inconsistent experiences", inspectors found.

While Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found some improvements in the Medway service, they said most children were waiting "too long" for their needs to be assessed.

The partnership that runs the service in the area was told to improve its communication with families.

Medway's portfolio holder for children's services, councillor Adam Price, said it had made "significant improvements" and had a "clear plan" in place to improve the experience for all families.

A previous inspection of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services in Medway in 2017 found "significant areas of weakness".

This latest report on services provided by Medway Council and Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board, published on Tuesday, noted improvements.

They included infants and younger children receiving "improved experiences and outcomes" in health and social care and "well-considered" support for families of children and young people not attending full-time education.

But it said delays to SEND assessments were often resulting in their needs increasing.

"Some families feel their child or young person reaches crisis point before their needs are identified," the report said.

'Barriers to information'

The watchdogs urged the partnership to remove "barriers" to information so families can access the right support "at the right time".

They also said the organisations needed to further improve the timeliness of education, health and care plans (EHCPs) and transitions from child to adult services in health, education and care.

Mr Price said the partnership was "pleased with the outcome of the inspection, which gives an accurate assessment of where we are on our journey".

He added the partnership would continue to "prioritise the areas identified by Ofsted and CQC for improvement".

NHS Kent and Medway chief executive Paul Bentley added: "While it is important and encouraging that the inspectors identified areas of strong service provision in Medway, the report rightly and accurately reflects our position and the need to do more".

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