WORCESTERSHIRE’S education chief has admitted he ‘wouldn’t pat himself about everything’ as SEND parents again called for a ‘seat at the table’ in deciding how the county council runs such services.
Coun Marcus Hart made the comments after hearing from angry parents of children with special education needs and disability (SEND) at a cabinet meeting at County Hall on Thursday (March 24).
The parents involved in the action have all experienced difficulty in accessing the right education and support for their children.
Coun Hart responded to criticisms of the action plan to address problems identified by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission and said: “I don’t think I or Worcestershire Children First would pat ourselves on the back about everything.
“What I would say is I welcome both positive and negative feedback, the business plan sets out there is positive feedback from parents on a range of services Worcestershire Children’s First provide.
“Where there is dissatisfaction, whether with SEND or whatever service, it is only right all of us involved strive to deliver the best service we can.
“I am confident what is proposed in the business plan will address the issues with regard to SEND.
Coun Hart went onto to suggest the council would welcome wider engagement from stakeholders including parents and carers on SEND and all of the services provided by Worcestershire Children’s First.
Campaigners from SEND National Crisis Worcestershire were spurred on by written responses dubbed ‘rhetotic and insulting’ following an unprecedented number of parent-carers attending and asking questions at the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee last month.
A number of concerned parents posed questions to the cabinet and repeated their desire to continue with their efforts until they saw ‘real change’ at Worcestershire Children First.
“Worcestershire Children First have produced what they term an ’Accelerated Progress Plan’ to address the remaining four areas of significant weakness identified at the Ofsted/Care Quality Commission (CQC) revisit,” a spokesperson said.
Campaigners sent a response to the plans to Worcestershire Children First’s chief executive, every county councillor and county MP which expressed ‘significant concerns’ about the quality of the plan.
“We once again seek Worcestershire County Council/Worcestershire Children First to evidence their commitment in ‘open and accountable government.
“Collaboration and co-production should be the dominant driving force in delivering service but it is usually given ‘lip-service’ at best. SEND National Crisis Worcestershire are ready and willing to engage in true co-production and have constructive measures and ideas to contribute.
“To do this we need a ‘seat at the table’ which currently is not being given. Whilst the parent-carer forum, Families In Partnership (FiP), will have a ‘seat’ automatically, all stakeholder groups should be included in the co-production processes.
“We represent real voices of Worcestershire parent-carers and we demand to be heard,” the group added.