Yet another great post from Dunstable Independents… Cllr John Gurney wrote –
Last week, at the Central Bedfordshire Council’s (CBC) annual budget meeting, Independent Cllr John Baker (Aspley & Woburn) raised concerns regarding a million pounds of “efficiencies” pencilled in for Children’s Services.
During this important meeting, whilst opposition Councillors raised questions, the Portfolio Holders did not respond.
A few days later, Cllr Baker now understands why the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services remained quiet: OFSTED has produced a catastrophic report  regarding the Council’s woeful Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) provision. The report is dated 12th February, and the budget meeting was held on the 20th of February.
Cllr Baker is now asking why this report was not shared with all CBC Councillors before the budget meeting?
He said: “It’s difficult to know where to start given the failings are so numerous. The report notes:”
* A Written Statement is required because of significant areas of weakness, and both the Council and the area’s Clinical Commissioning Group must submit a joint response.
* Leaders are not meeting their duties in the Children and Families Act 2014 for children and young people with SEND.
* Leaders’ planning lacks meaningful, measurable and precise targets, whilst Stakeholders do not fully understand the rationale behind decision making.
* Despite creating new staffing positions to work faster, the time taken has a had a negative impact on outcomes for children and young people.
* The Council has many experienced, passionate and committed professionals who work creatively to try and support families, and waiting times are being reduced. However, too many families feel like they are bounced around services with little meaningful help.
* The views of young people and their families are not influencing joint strategic planning and joint commissioning sufficiently.
* Most parents and carers who gave their views to inspectors do not feel listened to. Too many feel that they have to fight to get what their children need; most professionals from services that directly work with families agree.
* Many school staff feel that they wait too long for responses from specialist teams in the local authority and health services and that they are left in limbo with families in crisis.
Cllr Baker also said, “Having met passionate Council Officers and support staff who do a fabulous job, I’m clear that the problem is with the Council’s Leadership.”
Independent Councillors are demanding that this report is allocated time for discussion at the relevant Scrutiny Committee to ensure those responsible can explain what went wrong, and what actions are being taken to improve.
The Central Beds Council Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Overview and Scrutiny is the process whereby Executive decision-makers are held to account by non-Executive Councillors. The Committee has an important role to play in ensuring the safeguarding of vulnerable children and young people, the role as corporate parent, the assessment of education provision in the region, including early years and the support offered to children and families of children with disabilities and special educational needs.
Councillor members of this committee are:
Chair / Vice-Chair
- Chair: Councillor David Shelvey
- Vice-Chair: Councillor Mark Liddiard
- Councillor Ray Berry (C)
- Councillor David Bowater (C)
- Councillor Mark Foster (C)
- Councillor Antonia Ryan (L)
- Councillor David Shelvey (C)
- Councillor Mark Smith (IN)
- Councillor Johnson Tamara (C)
- Councillor Mark Liddiard (C)
- Councillor Mark Versallion (C)
- Councillor Ewan Wallace (C)
- Councillor John Chatterley (C)
- Councillor Silvia Collins (IN)
- Councillor Yvonne Farrell (LD) *
- Councillor Frank Firth (C)
- Councillor Charles Gomm (C)
I wonder how many of these Councillors have published this OFSED report on their own website, Facebook page or other social media, giving their constituents the opportunity to read it for themselves?
Cllr John Gurney
Reference: Cllr John Baker, In Touch with Aspley & Woburn. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2571057339876612&id=1716456778670010