SEND improvement action plan published

Published: 11 January 2024

The Hertfordshire Local Area Partnership, led by the NHS Integrated Care Board and Hertfordshire County Council, has set out how it will make improvements to SEND services across the county.

The partnership’s official response to the Hertfordshire Area Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) inspection report, which was published in November last year identifying widespread and / or systemic failings across the local area partnership, has been accepted by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and the Department for Education (DfE).

Hertfordshire’s Local Area Partnership Priority Action and Improvement Programme sets out how the partnership will deliver improvements in the two priority action areas and the five areas of improvement identified in the inspection report.

The DfE will also be issuing us with an improvement notice in the next few days. This is standard practice in these circumstances and the measures set out in our Priority Action Plan and Improvement Plan will ensure we meet the requirements of the notice.

Through enhanced governance and monitoring, working in partnership and sustained investment in SEND services, the Local Area Partnership will drive forward the improvements which are urgently needed.

The action plan was co-produced with professionals from across health, education and social care in Hertfordshire, parents and carers, and children and young people with SEND. There will continue to be collaboration with these partners as the plan is delivered over the coming months.

It identifies actions the partnership will take to address the most urgent areas of improvement, how the partnership will measure success and what difference this will make to Hertfordshire children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers.

As part of our plan to drive forward improvements in the SEND service we are:

  • Proposing to commit an extra £2m per annum in the county council’s budget proposal for 2024/25 – taking ongoing additional investment in the council’s statutory SEND service to £7m a year.
  • Continuing the council’s sustained investment in expanding special school and mainstream SEND provision, with current investment totalling at £91m to create 1,000 new SEND school places by 2025/26
  • Training new recruits, made possible through the previously announced additional £5m funding for the statutory SEND service, through the new SEND Academy which is also providing a framework for training and professional development for all staff to ensure quality and consistency of service.
  • Redesigning the way children and young people are assessed for autism and ADHD and improving the support children and their families get while awaiting assessment.
  • Strengthening data monitoring and governance, including independent expertise and challenge from Dame Christine Lenehan as chair of the Hertfordshire SEND Priority Executive, to drive positive change and accountability across council and NHS partners.

Cllr Caroline Clapper, Executive Member for Education, Libraries and Lifelong Learning, said:

“We are continuing to prioritise investment in improving our SEND service and strengthening our workforce to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND in Hertfordshire.

“This includes the launch of our new SEND academy, delivering training to new recruits and existing staff working within the SEND service, our £91m investment into special school expansion and our innovative approaches to identifying and providing support for pupils with SEND in mainstream settings.

“We are committed to working in partnership with our colleagues in health, social care, education, schools and parents and carers to urgently deliver the improvements that children and young people have told us they want to see.”

Dr Jane Halpin, Chief Executive, NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB, said:

“Patients are at the heart of everything we do in the NHS and we always want to ensure the best quality care and support. This includes ensuring we are doing everything we can do to support living an ordinary life for children and young people with SEND. Our joint partnership improvement plan demonstrates our commitment to deliver a further significant shift in the way children and young people who have additional needs are supported.”

Dame Christine Lenehan, said:

“I am really pleased to see that the Hertfordshire partnership is already making progress on their commitments to drive through improvements needed. I am delighted to be playing a part in supporting and challenging partners to deliver better outcomes for children and families.”