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Progress being made to improve Nottinghamshire’s services for children with special educational needs and disabilities

Thursday, 28 March 2024

Nottinghamshire’s local area partnership continues to make progress to improve services and support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

This recognition comes from the Department for Education and NHS England’s recent stocktake, which tests the strategic decision-making and oversight of the improvement programme. This follows the 2023 Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission’s inspection of SEND partnership services.

The partnership includes Nottinghamshire County Council, NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board and the Nottinghamshire parent carer forum (PCF), the voice of parent carers.

The DfE recognised that the partnership has matured, with stronger collective leadership of the improvements needed across the county. While there are still improvements required, the review highlighted a number of areas of improvement, including:

  • Clear senior corporate interest and engagement
  • the County Council’s changes to its cabinet to a specific member focused on education and SEND
  • A strong sense of partnership, and leaders working more collaboratively to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND.
  • Leaders investing in new roles focused on local area SEND transformation and improvement and restructured programme activity to enable a greater focus on the partnership’s six key co-produced outcomes.
  • Professionals remain dedicated and committed to improving provision and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.
  • Improved 20-week timeliness through an increase in resource to support EHC needs assessments, on average families were waiting five weeks less to receive their EHC Plans in September 2023 than they were in January 2023 (36.8 weeks down to 28.3).
  • At the time of inspection, 4.5% of EHC Plans were issued within 20 weeks. This has increased to 28% in line with planned improvements, and the leadership ambition is to exceed the national average, currently at 49%.
  • Co-production with families and young people has improved with effective working relationships with the parent carer forum (PCF) and Young Pioneers.


Rosa Waddingham, Chief Nurse at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, said: “I’m pleased to see that the stocktake has recognised the strong sense of partnership and collaboration we have developed as we work together to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND. We have been focusing on the specific areas we need to improve on following last year’s inspection which was recognised. We also welcome that the feedback noted our work to improve the wider SEND system. 

“There are still areas for improvement, but I feel positive that we are moving as a partnership towards providing the higher quality services and support that families, young people and children in Nottinghamshire deserve.”

Colin Pettigrew, Corporate Director, Children and Families, at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Working in partnership to improve SEND services is absolutely the right thing for young people and families and I am pleased that some positive progress has been recognised in the latest feedback, including improvements in the timeliness of education, health and care needs assessments which is important to families. We know that there continue to be areas for improvement and acknowledge that there is more to do in order for positive change to be experienced by children, young people and their families. This is system-wide change and it takes time but we are determined and committed to making the changes that families so need.

Councillor Sam Smith, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), said: “I am delighted that the Department for Education has acknowledged that we are making progress towards improving SEND services across Nottinghamshire.

“My role has been specifically set up because SEND is a key area for attention and demonstrates this council’s commitment to improving the experiences of children and young people with special needs, and their families, in Nottinghamshire, and engaging more positively with them so that we can both listen to them and take their views and lived experiences on board in our improvement efforts. The partnership is working hard to ensure we have the right foundations in place to deliver real and lasting improved outcomes for children, young people and families in Nottinghamshire and the Department for Education’s stocktake has recognised this.”

Georgina Palmer from the Nottinghamshire Parent Carer Forum commented: “We are encouraged by the acknowledged improvements and are hopeful that they will now generate the momentum necessary to truly impact and benefit families. While progress is evident, it is crucial that the voices and involvement of more parent carers and young people drive and shape more positive change.”

The partnership will continue to be monitored against progress.

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