New report states urgent action is needed to assist SEND parents in Bucks

“It’s always so challenging trying to get help,” said one Bucks parent
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A new report has shown that many parents in Buckinghamshire with SEND children are having difficulties finding the right help.

Findings detailed in the report suggest that urgent action is needed to support families with children coping with ADHD, autism, anxiety or depression.

Ofsted’s most recent inspection into its services for children with special education needs or disabilities, required improvement.

Education and Children's Services Committee Chair Julie Ward and Councillor Diana BlamiresEducation and Children's Services Committee Chair Julie Ward and Councillor Diana Blamires
Education and Children's Services Committee Chair Julie Ward and Councillor Diana Blamires

Bucks Council states that a huge programme has been set up to help upgrade the service.

One family said that when they first suspect their child has ADHD, autism, anxiety or depression that getting the right help was “very stressful”.

One parent, who believed her child had autism, said: “It’s always so challenging trying to get help.” Another, whose child has ADHD, added: “It feels like we are having to fight for the right to support our child.”

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The report, Review of Pathways for Children with Send, was presented at Education and Children’s Services Committee on Thursday (15 June) by Wing ward Councillor Diana Blamires.

Four schools, six independent organisations, scores of parents and Bucks Council officers were questioned about issues for parents when they first think their child has a problem. The research revealed 90 per cent of parents who flag that they think their child has ADHD, autism, anxiety or depression turn out to be right.

Councillor Blamires, who has a severely dyslexic teenage son, said: “It’s vital we give parents much better support when they first think there’s an issue. I am one of many parents who was slapped down and told they were wrong when flagging a concern only to find out I was right when there was an official diagnosis two years down the line. If your child has a problem you're anxious and your self-esteem can be affected as you think it’s your fault. The last thing you need is to be patronised and ignored.”

In total, 10 recommendations were included in the report, including more training in schools so parents’ concerns are validated. Another area of concern was the difficulty of obtaining the right information. Many said the section of the council’s website called The Local Offer, which offers Send advice, was hard to navigate.

Other findings included a shortage of educational psychologists. Also, the report recommended calling for more training places.

Councillor Anita Cranmer added: “We all really appreciate this report. I think what you're talking about is pretty simple to put in place.”

Children’s Social Care service director, Richard Nash, added: “As a service we really appreciate the work you’ve done. It will add value to the work we’ve done and what our ambitions are.” Mr Nash also agreed more information was needed for parents who flag an issue.

Among the areas which Ofsted stated needed significant improvement, in its report into the council’s services, was the time people had to wait for SEND diagnoses.

Bucks Council submitted a statement of action to Ofsted in the wake of the disappointing report.

The Review of Pathways for Children with Send report will go to a future Cabinet committee for approval.

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