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Suffolk County Council announces Kathryn Boulton as new independent chair of Local Area Partnership’s SEND Improvement Board





A new independent chair has been appointed to drive forward the reform of Suffolk SEND provision.

Suffolk County Council has today announced that Kathryn Boulton is the new independent chair of the Local Area Partnership’s SEND Improvement Board.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision is delivered by the Local Area Partnership in Suffolk, which includes Suffolk County Council, NHS Suffolk and North-East Essex Integrated Care Board and NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board.

Kathryn Boulton has been appointed as the new independent chair of the Local Area Partnership’s SEND Improvement Board. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Kathryn Boulton has been appointed as the new independent chair of the Local Area Partnership’s SEND Improvement Board. Picture: Suffolk County Council

The SEND Improvement Board was set up in response to the inspection of SEND services in Suffolk in November last year by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – which found ‘widespread and/or systematic failings’ - and is a requirement of the Improvement Notice that will be issued to Suffolk by the Department for Education.

Made up of senior leaders from the council and NHS, board members will oversee the implementation and review of plans and services aimed at improving the way SEND services are delivered in Suffolk.

It will also ensure the successful delivery of the Priority Action Plan, which was co-produced following the inspection and has been agreed by the Department for Education.

Endeavour House, Suffolk County Council HQ
Endeavour House, Suffolk County Council HQ

The new chair of the board, Kathryn, has 37 years of experience across children’s services.

With an education background and success in several senior leadership roles, she has significant experience of transforming SEND services in local authorities and ensuring the voices and experiences of children and young people with SEND and their families are central to the design and delivery of SEND services, said the county council.

Kathryn, who will chair her first meeting on June 7, said: “I feel privileged to be appointed as independent chair and am committed to working with the Local Area Partnership to ensure the improvements needed are delivered at pace.

“For me, it’s important that we listen and learn from children and their families and that they are at the heart of all our thinking, planning and ambitions for the future.

“I don’t underestimate the challenge ahead. However, I am confident that by working together effectively, we can bring about positive change that achieves positive outcomes for children and young people with SEND across Suffolk. I am very much looking forward to getting started.”

Andrew Reid, cabinet member for education and SEND at Suffolk County Council, said: “An independent chair is crucial in ensuring we stay on track and improve outcomes for our children and young people with SEND and their families. Kathryn will hold the partnership to account and will act as both a critical friend and a sounding board.

“The Improvement Board has an important job to do and we remain focused on providing the best provision for children and young people with SEND.”

Cllr Andrew Reid, cabinet member for education and SEND at Suffolk County Council
Cllr Andrew Reid, cabinet member for education and SEND at Suffolk County Council

In addition to Kathryn’s appointment, the Local Area Partnership will receive an Improvement Notice from the Department for Education.

A county council spokesperson said this was an expected outcome after the Ofsted and CQC inspection. It means that advisors from the Department for Education and NHS England will work with the Local Area Partnership to support and monitor improvement plans until further notice.

Cllr Reid added: “We welcome this. We already have a good relationship with the Department for Education, and the additional expertise and guidance of specialist advisors will further strengthen our improvement work.”