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Council closer to taking control of children's special educational needs and disability services

James Hockaday

Plans to move Slough’s children's special educational needs and disability (SEND) back under the control of Slough Borough Council (SBC) took a step closer at a council meeting last night (Tuesday).

The services are currently run by Slough Children's Services Trust (SCST), which took over the borough's children's services in 2015 after SBC received an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in July 2014.

At a cabinet meeting yesterday, councillors approved plans to seek permission from the Secretary of State for Education for SEND services to return to the council as early as possible this year.

Both SBC and SCST believe the time is right for the services to change hands because they say the council has strengthened its leadership of the town's education services.

The council argues that SEND is better fitted with the council's education services rather than the trust, which focuses more on children in the social care system.

SBC's deputy leader and commissioner for education and children's services, Cllr Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central), said the proposal is a 'well considered move'.

She said the services could change hands thanks to the improved relationship between the council and the trust.

"This is about making sure to do what's best for the children of our borough," she added.

At the meeting, councillors welcomed Cate Duffy, SBC's new director of children, learning and skills.

She said the proposal still needs approval from the Department for Education but said it 'shouldn't be an issue'.

Councillors also approved plans to bring the town's waste collection service in house.

Previously the council planned on setting up a 'teckal' company of which SBC would be the majority shareholder.

Waste contractors have requested that the managing director of Slough Amey, the borough's current waste collectors, should not be involved with the new project.

This curveball led the council proposing a directly insourced service in order to establish a fully operational service by December 1, when Amey's current contract expires.

SBC says that 'income opportunities' from the teckal company were lower than expected but it may set it up at a later date.

Councillors also approved Slough's housing strategy following a public consultation and heard an update on plans to build flats, shops and leisure facilities on the old Thames Valley University site.

The meeting took place at St Martins Place in Bath Road.

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