The last few years have seen a national increase in the volume of requests, plans and tribunals around EHCP assessment and this has also been reflected in Hertfordshire, where our previous ways of working were simply not coping with the additional pressure. We are working to introduce new systems which will better manage this increase in demand and help us to meet our statutory deadlines.
We have also listened to feedback from our service users and are finding new ways of working which will be much easier and clearer for parents.
Some of the improvements we are making include:
Making the decision-making process around who gets an assessment more transparent
We have reviewed the decision-making process around EHCPs and have identified ways to make this process quicker and more transparent. We are aiming to make improvements to panels with a view to achieving more efficient and child-centred decision-making. By doing so, we hope that professionals will then have more time to spend on delivering quality provision and directly supporting children and young people. We have piloted a new system and hope to roll it out in more areas over the coming year.
Where a decision is made not to go ahead with EHCP assessment, SENDIASS aim to help families with the next steps and support them in working closely with their child's school to deliver different support.
Exploring ways to help families and schools follow and contribute to the EHCP process
Our EHCP software supplier has been developing an online portal which will allow parents to log in to a website and see information about their assessments and reviews. In partnership with HPCI, we've been providing feedback to them to ensure that our priorities are part of their development process. We hope that this will be a useful tool for families for Hertfordshire in the future.
To help manage the annual review process, a dedicated team has been piloting a new computer software. It will enable schools to efficiently complete and return their annual review paperwork to us, thereby speeding up the process, reducing the time spent on administrative tasks and freeing up staff to focus on the provision and progress of their SEND pupils. We expect to roll out the new software over the next year.
Improving the quality and training around EHCPs
We are implementing a quality framework and mechanisms to ensure that EHC plans meet quality expectations Read about ways we're improving the quality of EHCPs.
We're reviewing the training that SENCOs get around annual reviews and assessment requests, to support them to be confident to hold reviews and provide good quality information to the SEND team after a review to help with EHCP amends.
We will ensure that SEND teams have regular refresher updates on the statutory requirements around EHCPs, including the requirement for co-production, and what a plan should include.