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Our Children, Our Area


8 February 2022

In our SEND Strategy, we promise to provide high quality provision locally so we have been carrying out a review of local SEND services and how these are delivered to families of children with SEND across the county.  In this blog, we will explain how we are using what we have learnt from this review to create new and improved ways to support children and their families closer to their home - Our Children, Our Area.

Some of the local services provided to children and families are delivered through DSPLs (Delivering Special Provision Locally) and LSPs (Local School Partnerships).  DSPLs and LSPs  are similar in many ways - both have specific funding and decision-making arrangements, and both offer different support in different parts of the county as they aim to meet very local needs.  But there are also key differences between them.   

What is DSPL?

There are 9 Delivering Special Provision Locally (DSPL) groups across the county.  These groups are made up of staff from Early Years settings, schools and colleges, parent and carer representatives, and people from other SEND organisations.  They work together to provide support for children and young people with SEND in their area and make decisions about the type of support most needed in their local area.

What are LSPs?

Local School Partnerships (LSPs) are groups of primary and secondary schools who work together to help improve the lives of families living within their area.  Each group has a family support team, who work with families in need of help from any school in the group.  If a family is just coping, or struggling to cope, a school Family Support Worker could help prevent a situation becoming a crisis. Not all Hertfordshire schools are part of an LSP.

What did we learn? 

We talked to many parents and carers who have used the services from the DSPLs and LSPs,  as well as hundreds of schools and other professionals who work with the DSPLs and LSPs.

Some of the key findings were:

  • DSPLs and LSPs understand what families, who live and go to school in their local area, need and where they can get help.  However, many parents and carers don’t understand what support the DSPLs and LSPs can provide and are confused as to how they can access this support.
  • Decision-making is inconsistent in the different DSPLs and LSPs across the county - meaning that there are differences in how funding is spent locally.
  • DSPLs and LSPs are valued by professionals because of the local knowledge they have, as well as the direct support they provide to families.  However, there is currently a lack of evidence of the impact that DSPLs and LSPs are making in their local area.

So, what happens next?

Following the review, we intend to continue to support DSPLs and LSPs for the next few years and identify longer term funding solutions where needed.

Based on the findings, we came up with a number of recommendations to improve DSPLs and LSPs; we will be aiming to put in place as many of these recommendations as possible by September 2022. We are working with representatives from the DSPLs and LSPs and Herts Parent Carers Involvement. Some of the recommended actions include:

  • We want to make sure that there is a consistent way of measuring the difference this support is making for children and young people and their families.  We are creating a new way of doing this which we're calling a 'shared DSPL and LSP outcomes framework'.  
  • We want to make sure that there is a consistent approach to decision-making across the different DSPLs and LSPs based on evidence of what is needed locallyTo help this we will improve the way data is shared and used between Hertfordshire County Council, LSPs and DSPLs. By doing so we will be better able to ensure accountability and equity across the county.  
  • We will continue to identify and develop learning opportunities for the staff in DSPLs and LSPs to better support them in delivering early intervention to children with SEND with emerging needs and their families.  We will promote supportive environments for professionals working within these areas, so that those working in similar roles in different parts of the county have access to peer support, and share good practice.
  • DSPLs and LSPs will work on improving the way they promote their purpose.  They will raise awareness to parents of what SEND services are available in their local area, and make it clearer to  families how they can access these services.

By making these improvements, we expect local groups of schools and partners to work even more closely to adopt one of the core principles of our SEND Strategy - “Our children, our area” - ensuring high quality provision for children and young people with SEND, which they can access close to home.


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