A MUM has echoed the criticism government inspectors gave Worcestershire’s provision for children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

An Ofsted report said services provided by Worcestershire County Council and the three Clinical Commissioning Groups needed improvement, and highlighted that many parents and carers felt they weren’t listened to by professionals.

Karen Parker, whose seven-year old son Adam is profoundly deaf, is a member of the county’s Deaf Children’s Society parents’ group, and said: “I am saddened but not surprised to read that once again our local authorities have been shown to be failing vulnerable children.

“In recent years Worcestershire County Council has implemented funding cuts, some openly and some by stealth – this compounded by past poor strategic management means that the services that deaf children receive have been affected.

“The funding responsibility for specialist Hearing Impairment Teaching Assistant support, and for some pupils to receive Teacher of the Deaf support has been passed on to schools, and schools are struggling to afford these, with some children now not being provided for.

“We no longer have a Deaf Role Model service despite authority promises.”

As her son moves through the school system Ms Parker is worried that his education could suffer, and added: “Although my son has thrived in a mainstream first school, four middle schools when approached have said that they cannot meet his needs and would struggle to provide a specialist hearing impairment teaching assistant due to the change in funding structure imposed by the local authority.

“I would encourage the local authorities to listen more to families’ experiences and take on board their suggestions for improvement.

“We welcome the recent changes in management in education at the county council, we now hope that they will be supported by their management and councillors in turning things around for the approximately 12,000 children in the county with additional needs and disabilities.”

David Heap, West Midlands Regional Director of the National Deaf Children’s Society added: "There are 400 deaf children living in Worcestershire, and with the right support they can achieve just as well as every child. Worcestershire County Council will urgently need to act on this report’s findings and make sure vital changes are made so that children in our area no longer fall behind.”

Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire's three Clinical Commissioning Groups are responsible for SEND provision. A spokesman said: "We want to work with young people, parents, carers, healthcare partners and organisations such as the National Deaf Children's Society to make sure that children in Worcestershire with special educational needs and/or disabilities are supported and encouraged to reach their full potential.

"We are determined to improve the local area offer and the recent progress that we have made has been recognised by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission. But there is a lot more that we still have to do. We will work closely with a wide range of people, partners and organisations in Worcestershire as we produce our action plan to drive improvement."

For more on this issue and other Ofsted reports, see worcesternews.co.uk