The council cabinet meeting at the Town Hall on Monday saw Alisa Flemming present the council’s draft strategy for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – SEND.
Councillor Fleming is the council’s cabinet member for inadequate children’s services and failing schools.
It is perhaps a measure of the impact that Flemming has made since being put in charge of the borough’s education programmes five years ago that the official agenda item for Monday’s cabinet meeting managed to misspell her name.
If you were expecting to be amazed by the outcome of the council’s work and public consultation on its SEND strategy, then stand by for disappointment.
The most amazing part of the document is probably the fact that they have produced an easy read version of it, too.
Starting with their vision, “Children and young people in Croydon will be safe, healthy, and happy and will aspire to be the best they can be. The future is theirs.”
The council had arranged consultations with children, young people and their parents and carers, as well as hearing views from professionals in Croydon, such as health care.
There appears to be little from social care in the strategy, but that unfortunately is an age old problem, especially with the council still scraping its way slowly out of an inadequate rating from the Ofsted inspection of childrens’ services.
Young people and some parents were invited along to the cabinet meeting to offer their views and answer questions.
The young people spoke well and pointed out the things that matter to them. The parents had mixed views regarding the strategy, some being more positive than others.
It will be interesting to see if their views are the same when Tony Newman, the council leader, invites them back to council in six months’ time, as promised on Monday, to see how, or if, Croydon is delivering on its promises.
Click here to read the strategy report.
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I wish that every SEND tribunal was attended by local Councillors. That those Councillors had to publicly take responsibility for the endless administrative delays and obstruction that are heaped upon family after family. That those Councillors had to take responsibility for the money that is spent on lawyers in the Royal Courts in order to block children getting support for basic needs. The system is broken and brutal, with low expectations and no real leadership and no strategy in place to minimise need and maximise child development. It is a national problem, but our Council can choose to be part of it or choose to proactively move away from it. Here we are in 2019 coming towards our 8th anniversary of the 2011 riots which we knew centred around disaffected youth, many excluded from the then new academies (because the youngsters struggled to learn & behave calmly) and we still have no really effective long-term strategies.