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Parents rate local SEND services in Hertfordshire

Parents of children with special educational needs disabilities (SEND) rated services in Hertfordshire 3 out of 10 on average, according to a recent statisfaction survey.

The Herts Parent Carer Involvement (HPCI) has published the results of its 2023 questionnaire to find out what families in Hertfordshire think of SEND services.

The questions are in line with the Ofsted / CQC Inspection framework to help inform future inspection and monitoring, and to help track year-on-year changes.

A total of 931 responses were received from across Hertfordshire, covering all age groups.

When asked about the service most in need of improvement, over half of respondents (58 per cent) highlighted support with education, health and care plans (EHCP).

The report noted: “A third of respondents reported annual reviews for EHCP not being carried out within statutory deadlines (very similar to last year).

“Where amendments to the plan were needed, 75 per cent reported the deadline for a final version was missed. Well over half of those people then waited over six months for the final version (47 of the 225 respondents to this question waited over a year).

“Comments suggest it’s often the next annual review that prompts the previous year’s EHCP to be issued.”

Four other problem areas selected by carers included mental health services for children and young people (31 per cent), waiting times for education psychologists (28 per cent), NHS services such as physiotherapy (27 per cent) and support from community paediatricians (25 per cent).

HPCI noted: “There are clear levels of dissatisfaction with many services and concerns about the outcomes that are delivered for children and young people.

“In most cases, parent carers’ views and experiences of SEND services in Hertfordshire have not improved in the last year.

“EHC Coordinators and/or EHCP administration continue to be the area of most concern for families, followed by Children and Young People’s Mental Health services and the Educational Psychology service.

“Many families continue to struggle to find information and support.”

The survey did shore up some positive results, as 54 per cent of respondents gave ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ ratings to schools in identifying SEND needs, while 53 per cent gave the same ratings to teachers.

It also found some geographical differences in satisfaction levels, with the highest approval ratings in Hitchin, Letchworth, Royston and Stevenage areas, and the lowest ratings in and around St Albans, Harpenden, Potter’s Bar and Borehamwood.

Hertfordshire County Council hosted a webinar on Thursday for parents to learn about SEND services available to them. The webinar advertised the facilities offered through the council’s Local Offer website.

Herts County Council stated: “The Local Offer website lets parents, young people and professionals know what special educational needs and disabilities services are available in Hertfordshire, and who can access them. There is so much more than that, too.”

Services on offer include education support, courses and activities in Hertfordshire, help for children and young people up to the age of 25, and assistance for parents, carers and families.

Further services include advice around finances, support with education health and care plans (EHCP), help with early years children and mentoring older teens in preparation for adulthood.

For more information, visit https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/microsites/local-offer/the-hertfordshire-local-offer.aspx

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