Statement from Cllr Marian James, Chair of Sutton Council People Committee

Published Thursday, 4th July 2019

Statement from Cllr Marian James regarding recent public discussion about SEND in the borough.

“There has been a lot of recent public discussion about SEND in the borough. It is all covered in detail in the reports of the People Committee meeting of 4 July, particularly the update on our Written Statement Of Action and the High Needs Block Review. I want to be clear that our service in Sutton is an improving service and not a failing service. I also want to be clear that we take every concern and every child seriously. We support almost 1,700 children in this borough with EHCPs, and many others benefit from informal support. In the interest of every one of those children, I am determined that we maintain the momentum of our improvement and the confidence of all our families and partners.

“I am clear that our focus will continue to be on improvement and on moving faster.

“I have today asked officers to look directly at our relationship with our outsourced provider. To this end, Nick Ireland, interim Strategic Director of People will be taking on a new role as a director of Cognus. He will be supported by other council officers to lead a review into the relationship between the council and Cognus. 

“Further, following our offer to parents of access to an independent expert, I have decided to take my own advice and have asked that an independent expert be sourced to answer the following three questions:

  1. Are our improvement plans progressing?

  2. Is practice in Cognus aligned with our statutory duties?

  3. Is the division of responsibilities between the council and Cognus the best operating model to deliver education services?

“These actions will bring Cognus in the short term more directly under the control of the council and allow us to ensure that in future the service will be seamless. They will support our existing programmes of change with the addition of independent expertise.

“I encourage residents to look at the reports of People Committee to learn more about our improvement programme. I believe that what we have announced today will mean that we continue to make progress.”