Calls have been made for an Independent Inquiry into Suffolk County Council’s SEND services, following a damning report earlier in the year.
In a cross-party letter, Nicola Beach, Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council, has been urged to take immediate action by establishing an Independent Inquiry into a service that has left hundreds of children without adequate support and provision.
The letter, signed by twenty councillors from across the political spectrum, says that an ‘objective, transparent and frank evaluation’ needs to take place, in order to provide ‘a clear direction of travel that the council must take to deliver quality SEND services and improve the lives of hundreds of families living in our county.’
Cllr Jack Abbott, Labour spokesman for Children’s Services, Education and Skills at Suffolk County Council said that SEND services in Suffolk were in a state of crisis, with hundreds of children and families paying the price.
Cllr Abbott said; "For too long, Suffolk County Council has marked its own homework, but the lived experiences for hundreds of children and families remain desperate. Things are simply not getting better and that was borne out by the dreadful SEND inspection revisit earlier in the year."
He continued: "The fact that councillors from across the political spectrum joined me in signing this letter, demonstrates the strength of feeling on this. The defensive, bunker mentality on this issue needs to end – this is about children and families, not the council’s reputation."
Cllr Penny Otton, Leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group at Suffolk County Council: "It’s clear that families of children with SEND are being failed in Suffolk, which is why we are once again requesting an independent inquiry. We need a fresh set of eyes to look at what is going so badly wrong. That is the only way to help Suffolk County Council improve the service it provides to these vulnerable children."
"The current SEND Oversight Board, which the LDGI Group has been excluded from and which is being managed by the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, is not the solution," continued Cllr Otton. "The Board isn’t objective, it isn’t able to scrutinise, and it won’t uncover the solutions. Suffolk County Council can’t afford to waste any more time – we urgently need to transform our SEND services."
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