A NEW report into education provision for children with special needs in Worcestershire has found "sufficient progress" and improvements, though serious issues still remain.

The report, carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Ofsted, assessed Worcestershire County Council for its SEND provision.

It said the council is making "sufficient progress" in eight out of 12 areas identified as "significant weaknesses" when it was initially inspected back in 2018.

Following the three-day inspection, which took place between November 1 and 3 last year, inspectors said systems had been put in place to effectively monitor vulnerable children and young people.

It also noted that the NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had shown "increased commitment and focus on children and young people with SEND" and that the development of Worcestershire Children First had resulting in a "cohesive structure in partnership with the health service."

Despite this progress, inspectors said there remain "significant concerns" about the how inclusive some mainstream schools are across the area.

However, they noted that since the last inspection, school leaders are providing mainstream schools with the support needed to train staff in working with SEND children in-school.

Despite some positive views expressed by parents, inspectors found that "fragile relationships" still exist with parents and carers expressing "overwhelming negativity" about SEND services and provision in the area and concerns remain of lack of engagement and co-production.

At the 2018 inspection, education and health care plans (EHC) were said to be of a "poor quality".

Inspectors said there continues to be a lack of oversight in the quality of EHC plans but that leaders were taking action to address the concerns raised.

Cllr Marcus Hart, cabinet member for education said: "On behalf of Worcestershire County Council, I fully accept the findings of the report and am pleased that inspectors recognised the improvements that have been put in place to address the weaknesses identified in the previous inspection in 2018.

"I would like to personally thank all the children and young people with SEND and the parents and carers who shared their experiences with inspectors."

The full report is due to be published by Ofsted next week.