Council’s statement following SEND improvement notice

15 May 2024
blue background with the words council update in white text, the wirral logo underneath
Officers have already set up an improvement board which met for the first time recently.

The Department for Education (DfE) has today (15 May) published an improvement notice to Wirral Council, as a result of poor progress across the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) sector in the borough, following an OFSTED and CQC inspection in September 2021.

The notice sets out areas of significant concern identified across SEND services in Wirral and advises the Council and members of Wirral SEND Partnership on specific improvements which must be made by October 2025.

The DfE informed the Council of this notice via a letter to the Council Leader, Chief Executive, the Director of Children’s Services, and colleagues in April.

Cllr Paul Stuart, Leader of Wirral Council, said: 

I accept and acknowledge this move from the Department for Education to issue Wirral with an improvement notice. Since the inspection in 2021 where several failings were noted, our work to improve these areas has been slow and we need to do much, much more.

While I am disappointed in the lack of progress, I welcome the notice and as a result officers have already set up an improvement board, which had their first meeting recently. The board will meet regularly, chaired by the Chief Executive of the Council. Membership of the board will include myself as well as Chief Executives from Education, Health and Care services and other key institutions in the SEND sector.

It will provide regular updates to appointed DfE and NHS advisors who will monitor improvements, as well as ensuring all reports board reports are published on the SENDLO website so that parents, carers, and other stakeholders can track the progress of its work.

The board has an important job to do and will remain focused on delivering the best provision for children and young people with SEND.

Paul Satoor, Chief Executive of Wirral Council said: 

Supporting our children and families with SEND is a responsibility held by organisations across our local partnerships.

I’m grateful to the DfE for their support and guidance as we embark on this transformation journey, and I can assure our communities that we can and will turn things around.

Elizabeth Hartley, Director for Children, Families and Education at Wirral Council said:

Since the 2021 inspection we have made lots of changes in SEND support and started many new projects as a direct result. But these changes, while not insignificant, have not been enough and we’re still not in the place we need to be with our SEND offer for families.

As a recently appointed director, I take this notice extremely seriously and, along with my colleagues across the partnership, am committed to turning things around as quickly as possible.

I meet regularly with the parent carer forum and have sat with many families who feel let down by our existing system. Those parents and families have helped me to have a good understanding of what needs to change in Wirral.

Chair of the Parent Carer Forum (PCPW) said:

We’re pleased to hear that this has been taken seriously by the council and other partners and we continue to work alongside the Local Area in its improvement journey.