Do you have D/deaf, vision impaired or multisensory impaired children and live in Hertfordshire? Are you a local young person who is D/deaf, vision impaired or multisensory impaired? We want to hear from you, about your experiences in education.
We want all children and young people to reach their full potential.
We know it's impossible to design a successful service without the help of the people who use it. We regularly collect feedback from families who use our services through evaluation forms, but we want more! By learning from your real-life experiences, we can understand what we need to change to make things easier.
We're going to spend the autumn term analysing all the data we have available to us and collecting your views, in a number of different ways. Then, we'll analyse what we have learnt, make recommendations and then deliver improvements.
DSPLs and LSPs
We have completed a review of how we support schools and families in Hertfordshire through our Delivering Special Provision Locally (DSPL) and Local School Partnerships (LSP) provision. The review included feedback from a range of partners, including families who use the services. The review found that on the whole families and partners value these services. However, some families and some partners would like to there to be more consistency of services across the county and have a better understanding of which services are available to provide support early, when children and young people with SEND, and their families need it. A number of recommendations have been approved, which will now be implemented over the next 12 months, working very closely with HPCI. You can read more about the review of DSPLs and LSPs on our blog.
Specialist Provision Banding and Funding and Top-up High Needs Funding (HNF) in Mainstream Schools
Following on from the completion of the work on Top-up High Needs Funding (HNF) in Mainstream Schools, a new project was set up by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) to continue the work and apply it to Specialist Settings. An update on progress is set out below.
Top-Up High Needs Funding in Mainstream Schools (HNF)
This system has now been in place for over a year and is delivering £15m of funding to children and young people with High Needs in mainstream schools (a 50% increase from the start of this project). While this is a significant investment, there is still much work to do to ensure it reaches those with the greatest need in a timely manner. We have been working closely with schools and other partners to review services and see where we can achieve more value for money for services funded from the High Needs Funding, and better meet increasing demand. This has already led to improvements to the Education Support for Medical Absence (ESMA) Teaching Service, including creating clarity of provision, introducing a new governance model, developing more efficient structures and practices, and creating a vision to ensure we deliver the best teaching and reintegration service possible for our children. (Please note that the ESMA teaching service is open to all children absent from school on medical grounds, not just children with SEND).
The following challenges and solutions are being addressed:
- There is a backlog of unbanded Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) being addressed by a dedicated team and should be completed shortly.
- A new ‘front door’ for Annual Reviews (AR) is in place so the journey of the AR can be tracked and completed in a timely manner. The number of outstanding ARs is gradually reducing.
- For new EHC needs assessment, schools are being reminded to submit their banding tool outcome at week 15 to ensure there is no delay the banding process.
Additional Targeted Funding (ATF)
£3.4m of additional funding has been distributed to mainstream schools who have a higher than expected number of children and young people with an EHCP.
Additional Targeted Funding Plus (ATF+)
ATF is distributed to mainstream schools on a financial rather than academic year basis, so those schools whose number of EHCPs increases beyond the thresholds at the September transition points will receive additional funding for these pupils.
Local High Needs Funding (LHNF)
This system received an increase in funding for 2022 and is helping to address the needs of children and young people who have high needs but do not have an EHCP. Further work is being undertaken to ensure that this finite pot of funding reaches those who most need it.
The banding tool used for HNF/LHNF includes descriptions of children and young people's needs and these are used to identify the band relevant to the child or young person. Phase 2 of the work on Banding Descriptors is now underway and includes:
- A review of the existing banding descriptors to improve the specificity of the descriptors
- The addition of descriptors that reflect children and young people in our special schools and specialist provisions
- A provision tool that sits alongside the banding descriptors and identifies the features of the provision to meet the children and young people's needs
This is a significant piece of work and is taking some time to complete. A workshop to review all the work so far took place at the end of October and the new descriptors will be tested in the Spring term 2022.
Special School and Specialist Provision Admissions and Exit Guidance
Once the banding descriptor work is in place it will be used to review the existing Admissions and Exit Guidance with a view to ensuring clarity and specificity for children and young people who may need places at a special school or specialist provision.
Special School Funding
Once the banding descriptor work is complete, all children and young people in Hertfordshire mainstream and special schools will have a band that will reflect their needs. The banding will be used to identify the appropriate funding for special schools and specialist provisions. The banding will not change the needs or provision specified in a child or young person's EHCP. The work is in its very early stages and includes:
- Understanding and reviewing the existing funding mechanism
- Identifying principles for the new funding mechanism
- Modelling the impact of any proposals
- Setting up a consultant group of special school heads (one per sector) to ensure that the funding reflects the needs of the school
The work aims to maintain the existing amount of funding for Special Schools overall and to ensure special schools receive appropriate funding to meet the needs of their children and young people.