Michael often receives casework from the parents of children with Special Education Needs & Disabilities regarding their schools placements and further provisions required from the Local Authority, including home to school transport. The issue has become more prominent in the wake of the pandemic.
Michael has experienced a noticeable increase in the amount of correspondence received from parents who had been having difficulty navigating the Local Authority’s SEND provision service. A number of parents reported delays in securing the appropriate EHCPs for their children, as well as further delays when subsequently approaching the tribunal service. Michael has, therefore, been working with Surrey MP colleagues and Surrey County Council to improves services.
*LATEST UPDATE* September 2023 - Further to Michael’s meeting last December with his fellow Surrey MPs and representatives from the Education and Learning Department at Surrey County Council (SCC), he convened a virtual follow-up meeting to discuss the progress being made with improvements to Special Educational Needs services across Surrey.
Michael has continued to receive correspondence from understandably concerned parents who are experiencing difficulties securing Education & Health Care Plans for their children, and he was grateful for the opportunity to raise this issue again directly with SCC.
Michael was pleased to learn that SCC have initiated a significant recruitment boost in order to help cut the backlog of cases, but there is still more to be done to ensure Surrey’s children are able to access the right level of support. Whilst it will take time to overcome the issue of ongoing delays, Michael is confident that SCC has been working very hard to improve its service, and that timeliness and communication will be better going forwards.
July 2023 – Following the December meeting, Michael continued to receive a large number of cases from constituents with new and ongoing concerns about the quality and timeliness of SEND services in Surrey.
Whilst Michael understood from the December meeting that the Council needed time to finetune the process by which parents secure the support they need for their children, he had hoped for a significantly more rapid rate of improvement. Michael was, therefore, in touch with Surrey MP colleagues to ask if they too were still experiencing a large number of SEND cases, and following their response, has asked Clare Curran and her colleagues at Surrey County Council for a further meeting. He will share any updates in due course.
June 2023 – Michael was informed by the Council that it was releasing a new set of Key Performance Indicators in the coming weeks, which would assist with the monitoring of progress, and allow the Council to be held accountable to more rigid standards.
December 2022 – Michael convened a meeting with Cllr Clare Curran, Liz Mills (Director of Education & Lifelong Learning) & Tracey Sanders (Assistant Director), together with several other Surrey MPs, in Parliament. A number of issues were raised in the meeting, such as the shift in demand following the pandemic, tribunal delays, home to school transport, and the particular areas of provision in EHCPs that the Council and schools were having difficult providing. Regarding the uplift in demand, the County Council subsequently produced an information sheet outlining the extent to which the landscape has changed in recent years, and you can find it at the bottom of this page. Michael and his colleagues were reassured to hear about all the work that the County Council is doing to overcome the challenges it has been facing in order to ensure that access to these vital SEND services is readily available for families in need of support.
October 2022 – As levels of emails from concerned parents continued to increase since his April meeting, Michael contacted his fellow Surrey MPs to ask if they too had recognised a similar upward trend in correspondence. Upon learning that many of his Surrey colleagues’ had been experiencing a similar shift, Michael contacted Surrey County Council to invite the All Age Learning team to Parliament for a meeting to discuss the matter.
April 2022 – Michael held the above meeting in which the Council explained that services were being stretched as unprecedented amount of families were seeking support, and that they were working on ways to improve the service for families.
March 2022 – Michael wrote to Surrey County Council to raise the issue and ask what is being done to cater for the increased demand for the service, and requested a meeting with the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning so that the matter could be discussed in full.