Education service provider Cognus is set to move into Sutton Council ownership following a vote last month. 

Cognus shareholders (including Sutton schools) voted to move ahead with the arrangements to bring the company into Council ownership on September 29.

Councillor Marian James says the new arrangement will ensure the community "has a strong voice in the future development" of Sutton's educational services.

Cognus provides 27 services to children, young people, families, schools and specialist education providers. 

The news follows years of concerns into the company's ability to provide support to children with special needs and learning disabilities.

Most recently, concerns were highlighted on BBC Panorama in an episode called 'Fighting for an Education'.

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Following the investigation MPs and councillors raised their concerns over the 'Catastrophic' and 'incompetent' SEND services. 

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In 2018, parent campaign group Sutton EHCP found that Cognus denied around 700 children for an assessment for extra support.

However, in the past year, the partnership has received positive endorsements from Ofsted, the CQC and Children's Minister Vicky Ford.

Sutton Council says the change in ownership will "strengthen the partnership further" and give families, schools and education settings a "greater voice" in the direction of the company.

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The proposed changes will enable Cognus to focus on service delivery, while the Council will support the management of the company and continue to provide strategic oversight through the appointment of three Council officers to the Cognus Board.

This outcome responds to recommendations made by the independent expert Sharon Scott, who reviewed Sutton’s education services practice and governance in 2019 and the Ofsted and CQC report, by including representatives from the special, primary and secondary education sectors.

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Councillor Marian James, Chair of the People Committee at Sutton Council, said: "This is good news that we have been able to secure a strong future for Cognus and therefore for the children and young people of our borough.

"Cognus provides high-quality services in Sutton and beyond, generating an important resource that we reinvest into children’s services locally.

"We are committed to working closely with our partners in the education sector, parents and families and our wider community, as we all strive to deliver the best possible outcomes for our children and young people.”

The Council will recommend to the People Committee on October 15, that Cognus be recommissioned as the education services provider for Sutton for a further three years, once the existing contract expires in November 2021.

Sutton Council says the recommendation is based on the "quality of service provided already by Cognus" and reinforced by the opportunities to "further build on these under the new arrangements."