Sutton Council says it will soon appoint an independent expert to review the provision of special needs services in the borough.

Earlier this month, Sutton's people committee debated a petition signed more than 500 times calling for an independent assessment of Cognus, the largely Council owned company in charge of school support services in the borough.

Critics say service provision fails to meet statutory requirements and have accused the Council of caring more about politics than vulnerable children.

Issuing an update yesterday, Cllr Marian James said: "As Chair of Sutton Council’s People Committee I want to keep residents and families updated on our commitment to improve our services to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

"Following my commitment made at People Committee on July 4, last week Mr Nick Ireland, acting Strategic Director of People at Sutton Council, was appointed as a non executive director to the board of Cognus.

"He is now agreeing our plan of action to more closely direct their work.

"We will soon also be able to announce the appointment of the independent expert to review the practice of Cognus and our working arrangements.

"I want to restate that we are absolutely committed to continue our improvement journey.

"Our plans to improve have been endorsed by the Department for Education and NHS England and they are satisfied with the progress we are making.

"I will continue to keep residents and families updated on the achievements as part of our drive to improve."

In March 2018, a joint letter from the CQC (Care Quality Commission) and Ofsted raised ‘significant concerns’ about special needs services in the borough.

Hayley Harding set up Sutton EHCP Crisis, which presented the petition, when her autistic son Matthew was refused an assessment. He is set to start school in September.

The family now plans to take the decision to tribunal and hopes it will be overturned.

Nick Ireland, strategic director of people at Sutton Council, has now been appointed director of Cognus and is supported by other council officers on the board.