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The SEND inspection report for the Hertfordshire area partnership (covering the council and health services) gave us 2 "priority" areas we need to urgently fix, and 5 other areas where we must also show improvement. We have a detailed plan to make things better.

The plan was reviewed and approved by Ofsted/ CQC. The DfE have also issued an improvement notice to us. This is standard practice in these circumstances and our Priority Action and Improvement Plan will ensure we meet the requirements of the notice. 

Or, read our page below - where we have outlined the plan in much simpler terms.

If you would like a copy of the full document in another format, or a version that will be accessible to screenreaders, please email

The plan:

The timeframe for this work is around 18 months, as we will be reinspected some time in summer 2025. We will need to show that improvements are being felt by families.

Priority actions

These are the most important things the report told us to focus on.

1: Improve the way we share SEND data and information across organisations, so everyone understands where to focus improvements.

We will use the data we have in a more intelligent way, to decide where improvements in services are needed. We will make data easier to use and learn from by making a new “dashboard”. This is one spreadsheet that everyone can view, where we will keep all of the key service information and numbers. We must work quickly to get this new reporting in place. 

We are putting things into place to make sure that the people in positions of leadership have the best ways to find out about what is happening in their services, so they can make the right decisions. We are changing the way our meetings work to improve this. This is known as our 'governance'. 

We are putting methods in place to make sure we listen and record what children and young people tell us about their lives and services they use or need, and use this information to make improvements.

2: Leaders from all organisations need to work together better. They need to make sure that the work done by their services is high quality.

This "priority action" is about leaders in the council and health services working together effectively, with delivering this improvement plan as the key focus. Leaders will set this priority across all services, so we can achieve the aims of the improvement plan as quickly as possible.

We will give children and young people opportunities to feed into this work and make sure leaders can listen and respond to what they tell us, through their decision making.

We will create guidelines that set out the expected quality of work that services should provide. We will develop ways to check that services are working to these guidelines.

Improvement areas

The SEND Inspection report also gave us some important areas we need to improve on.

1: Make sure all children and young people can get the same support from health services, no matter where they live in the county.

We need to redesign the way we assess children and young people for autism and ADHD so it is less confusing and the process is the same across Hertfordshire. We will improve the support children and their families get while they wait for assessment and make sure everyone can find excellent support no matter which area they live in.

We also aim to more get young people aged 14+ with learning disabilities attending the annual health checks they are entitled to.

2: Improve the quality of Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) documents.

EHCPs need to have really good information from professionals in them about the child’s needs and how to support them. The plan must also include the wishes and views of the child.

We are employing more professionals to work on EHCPs, aross a wider range of teams with specialised experience. They will have excellent training and support in the "SEND Academy". We are calling this programme, which has a £5million per year investment, "Making SEND everyone's business".

We will improve our guidelines that set out the expected quality of EHCPs. This will cover guidance for the annual review process too.

3: Make sure that children who have EHCPs are attending the right type of school for them.

If a child's EHCP says they need a place at a special school or other type of setting, we need to make sure the right places are available for them.

We continue to create new special school places and specialist resource provisions. We keep you up to date on this work on our page: Increasing specialist provision and school places in Hertfordshire.

We will also focus more on helping children who are out of school or with low attendance because of social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

We will improve the way we make decisions about placements for children with EHCPs, so they have the right type of school identified for them in the first place.

We will do more to track how well the existing schools and education settings we have (including alternative provision) are doing, so we know that they are effective in meeting their pupils' needs.  

4: Stop waiting times for services from getting longer.

We will stop waiting times from getting any longer, and make sure services exist for the things our families need help with. Over time, we will make waiting times for services shorter, but within our 18 month plan, we will "stabilise" the waiting times. Some particular things that families need more help with, and faster, are:

  • mental health
  • speech and language
  • ADHD and autism
  • audiology (hearing).

We will also make sure that when families do have to wait, they know where to get support in the mean time.

We are also helping schools to use a new tool (called Valuing SEND), which helps education staff to identify a child's needs. This can be useful as evidence when getting the right support from colleagues in health and social care, and helps the school to provide the right support to the child.

5: Make more families aware of what support exists at an earlier stage, so they can get help before they are in crisis.

We need to make sure all families in Hertfordshire can find information about SEND support and services when they need it.

We also need to communicate better with families who are receiving a service. This means making sure we actively provide updates, and answer calls and emails more promptly. We want to build trusted relationships with our families to help them feel confident in the service they are receiving.

We will make a formal process for communications that all organisations must follow, and create new staff training on the importance of communicating well with families.

In particular, we want to improve parent communication, experience and expectations around the EHCP process. One way we will do this is to increase the number of staff in the EHCP team as a whole. The Making SEND Everyone's Business work (as outlined in improvement area 2) will have a huge impact on improving communication.

We will commit ourselves to learning from previous complaints, by reviewing them and addressing patterns and themes in feedback.


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