More progress still needs to be made by the Royal Borough in the way it cares for people with special needs, writes James Bagley.

An article in the Schools Week website lists 11 councils, including the Royal Borough, still at risk of having the Department of Education take over their SEND (special educational needs and disability) services if significant progress is not demonstrated.

A recent report by the Government's Ofsted inspectors discussed by councillors at January’s overview and scrutiny meeting found two out of eight areas in the borough’s SEND provisions needed to improve.

The areas requiring more improvement included services for 18 to 25 year olds, people needing occupational therapy, or who are living with autism and attention deficit disorders.

Cllr Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill), the Royal Borough's cabinet member for health and social services, said this week that the council had already outlined a plan of action in a letter sent to the relevant minister and was awaiting feedback.

He said the areas of concern were mainly the responsibility of the council's National Health Service partner bodies - including the area's Clinical Commissioning Group.

He said: "Takeover from the DfE is a last resort and very unlikely.

“Our progress has been recognised and positive discussions are being had with the DfE on the remaining two areas and I will continue to constructively but firmly challenge health partners and our CCG to ensure speed of improved delivery in their areas of responsibility.”