Children’s expert brought in to strengthen council’s focus on real-life experiences of children with special educational needs
An independent special advisor has been commissioned to further strengthen reform of special educational needs and disabilities services (SEND) at Suffolk County Council.
Well-respected senior leader in children’s services, consultant Anthony Douglas CBE, will work with SEND system leaders and the SEND networks to support the reforms already underway. He will draw on his years of experience to focus on how services are impacting upon the everyday experience of children and young people with SEND.
Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, SEND and Skills, at Suffolk County Council said:
“The challenge of transforming the way we deliver SEND services is extremely complex. We can all agree that effective improvement is being felt in parts of the system – and it is reassuring that the Department for Education confirms that progress is being made.
“However, we also recognise that there are some areas, especially those lived experiences of families, where improvement is not being clearly felt.
“This is where Mr Douglas, an experienced and much respected professional in children’s services, will add significant value and strengthen the existing work of the SEND team. My thanks goes to staff who work tirelessly to improve our SEND services.
“We welcome Mr Douglas’s guidance in strengthening the impact of our continued improvement.”
In chief executive and director roles for the last 20 years, Anthony Douglas has supported children and young people with SEND and their families, across health, care and education. He also carried out a major inquiry in 2020 within a local authority about inclusive education practices in schools and colleges. He works with organisations internationally about the service developments needed for children with special needs of all types, with a view to improving those services. Anthony has chaired the Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership since 2019.
Mr Douglas said: “I will be offering local SEND leaders a continuous second opinion about the quality of SEND services across Suffolk.
“I will be using co-production principles in my work and will be judged on whether - by the end of this project - I have added value for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in Suffolk and for their families who need and deserve the very best support possible within the resources available.
“SEND services nationally are under phenomenal pressure and Suffolk is no exception. That is why I will only be looking at what can be done better.”
Mr Douglas will work with the council initially for six months beginning in April 2023.
You can read more about our work to improve SEND Services in Suffolk here.