PROBLEMS at Solihull schools for disabled children and those with special needs have been highlighted by inspectors.
The include high absence and exclusion rates, despite improvements in educational attainment.
A joint inspection team from Ofsted and health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) concludes too many do not attend school on a full-time basis and exclusion levels “are too high”.
While the report also contains a positive assessment of many SEND (Special Edicational Needs and Disabilities) services, it states “Academic outcomes are improving but pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities make slower progress from their starting points than all pupils nationally and other pupils in Solihull.
“Too many pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities do not attend school on a full-time basis. Levels of absence, persistent absence and exclusions are too high. A high proportion of (these) pupils are excluded from school.
“Although improving, there is a lack of suitable local education provision for pupils who have an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
“Progress in identifying and meeting the speech, language and communication needs of children and young people in education settings is slow.
“Too many children are also waiting for assessment by an occupational therapist in Solihull.
“Not enough young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities are benefiting from the GP-led annual health check when they reach the age of 14. “This hinders their transition into adult health care services.”
The way in which SEND children’s needs are assessed in the borough fares better.
A letter from the inspectorates to Solihull council’s children’s services and Solhull Clinical Commissioning Group, states: “Children and young people who are looked-after in Solihull receive timely, comprehensive and meaningful initial and review health assessments.”
But there is criticism of that links between parents and the authorities have broken down since a previous parent and carer forum disbanded.
The letter states: “Systems for consulting with parents and strategic co-production of plans to improve local services are underdeveloped.
“Professionals from the local area have tried to keep parents involved in planning provision in Solihull.
“However, the previous parent carer forum disbanded and this has hindered communication.
“Parents can raise concerns and, at times, they are communicated with effectively.
“However, a number of parents told inspectors that they are unable to influence improvements and some believe that their concerns have not been addressed.”
A spokesman for Solihull council said: “We were pleased the inspectors recognised how good our services are to these vulnerable children and families.
“We know there is more work we need to do in the future to continue to offer the services these children, young people and families need.
“In particular we know we need to further engage more effectively with parents to ensure the services we offer to them and their children meet their needs, now and in the future.”