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Local Area Inspections – how are the NNPCF representing Parent Carer Forums?

March 22, 2019

Local area inspections are at a critical stage: more and more local areas inspected are receiving a written statement of action (WSOA) – in 2018, 58% of inspections resulted in a WSOA. In addition, the programme of revisits for those areas having received a WSOA has just started. As of March 2019, three local area revisits have taken place. In one area, Rochdale, the inspectorate judged that the local area had made sufficient progress. Two areas, Suffolk and Hartlepool, have been told that they have not made sufficient progress.

Based on feedback from our member forums, the NNPCF steering group have made some key representations to officials at the Department for Education (DfE):

  • We told the DfE how forums are telling us there is a danger that local area inspections are losing their impact. We are hearing reports that some areas have responded to a WSOA with complacency. These inspections are a cornerstone of the regime of accountability for the SEND system and we must not allow their significance to be eroded.
  • Some forums in areas issued with a WSOA have commented the role of DfE and NHSE advisers in the wake of the WSOA needs to be stronger. Forums have reported whilst local areas with a WSOA have received support, they would like to see more challenge from DfE and NHSE advisers. The proof of the effectiveness of the work of the DfE and NHSE advisers will be in how many local areas have their WSOA lifted.
  • We told the DfE they must be willing to take severe action in response to those areas where they have failed their WSOA revisit. Moreover, they must also be seen to take severe action. The credibility of the whole inspection regime is at risk if they do not.
  • Parent carer forums have asked they be included in meetings with DfE and NHSE officials and the local area after a WSOA. The NNPCF have supported these requests but they have so far been declined by the DfE. This is on the grounds that the meetings are to hold the responsible authorities (councils and CCGs) to account, not to hold parent carer forums to account.

We have revised our local area inspections talking point to reflect on these developments. It includes a summary of our position with regard to local area inspections and some guidance to forums ahead of, and during, inspections. Please see our Talking Points documents for more information.