Sutton Council has appointed an independent expert to advise on improvements to its under pressure special needs services.

Sharon Scott will oversee changes to the delivery of services, reviewing practice within Cognus, the largely Council owned company in charge of school support, and whether the current split between two organisations is the best model for provision.

Mrs Scott worked most recently on SEND services in Birmingham, and has experience in other London boroughs.

Councillor Marian James, Chair of Sutton Council's People Committee, said: "We have chosen Mrs Scott because her expertise gained both in other London boroughs, and most recently in Birmingham, gives the council and me assurance that she will provide independent high quality advice.

"This is an important next step in our improvement journey and I look forward to receiving her advice and input.

"I have asked her to talk to parents and carers, as well as council officers and our statutory partners.

"With over 1700 young people receiving support through Education, Health and Care Plans and informal support, it is of the utmost importance that we provide the best possible service."

Last month, Sutton's people committee debated a petition signed more than 500 times calling for an independent assessment of Cognus.

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

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