Services for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Worcestershire has been severely criticised by the governments inspectors at OFSTED.

After an inspection in March which found “significant areas of weakness” Worcestershire County Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) have been told to come up with a proper action plan.

Ofsted's letter says: "Children and young people who have SEN and/or disabilities are not provided with the quality of support and service to which they are entitled." The letter says authorities in Worcester have "a concerted drive and commitment to make improvements but the impact of these actions is yet to be seen."

It later adds that Worcestershire authorities have only recently developed a SEND strategy but it was at an early stage. “There has been limited engagement with parents and professionals in devising the strategy. Parents and professionals talked of their frustration in not being consulted.”

“Relationships with parents and carers are fragile. [They] are overwhelmingly negative about their experiences and involvement with the local area. Many feel they are not listened to and frequently said they had to ‘fight’ to get the right support for their child.”

Other criticisms include that too few education health and care (EHC) plans have been issued in time and the quality of those done is ‘poor’. Exclusions from school are rising for children who receive support for their needs but don’t have an EHC plan.

Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member at County Hall for education said: “We are disappointed by the findings but we accept them and we are determined to improve the local area offer for children and their parents and carers. Working with our health partners and schools we have made huge strides forward in recent months but there is much more still to do."

Simon Trickett, accountable officer of Worcestershire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups, added: “We accept the findings of the report and agree the critical importance of working with others to provide the joined-up services that children and young people deserve. We acknowledge that more needs to be done and remain committed to working with our partners to ensure that the special health needs of children and young people are more adequately met in the future.”

The action plan will be discussed at a meeting of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Panel in July.