Bishop of St Albans asks about delivery of special educational needs policy

The Bishop of St Albans asked about government support for health, social care, and CAMHS services in response to the announcement of a new special educational needs plan on 9th March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too thank His Majesty’s Government for the improvement plan. I commend what they are doing to try to get a much more integrated approach and some of the resources mentioned in the plan. However, I share the concern raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Twycross, about implementation. The stories I pick up from grass-roots situations in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, where I serve, show that there are still some very serious problems, and some children are now being failed immediately.

I will ask a couple of questions. First, having a specialised workforce in place will be crucial, so can the Minister tell us what support they expect to receive from the DHSC, especially as such a great strain is placed on the health and social care workforce? The second question is about diagnosis, so that children can have access to the support mentioned in the content of the plan. What support is the DHSC able to provide to CAMHS to ensure that there is support to deliver this plan?

Baroness Barran (Con): As the right reverend Prelate said, that co-operation between health, education and children’s social care is absolutely critical, so that they are closely joined together. We will bring more clarity and clearer accountability through new inspections conducted jointly by Ofsted and the CQC, which will focus very much on outcomes and experiences for children, young people and their families. In turn, that will feed into and reflect the local inclusion plans, where health is a critical partner.

On issues around the mental health workforce, the right reverend Prelate will be aware that we are doing a lot of work to ensure that we have direct support in schools, so that, wherever possible, mental health issues do not need to escalate to CAMHS.


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