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We are continually looking to improve the services we deliver for the children and young people in Hertfordshire with SEND – our ‘Local Offer'.

The progress we have made, and the work we have carried out with parents and professionals on the SEND transformation programme over the last few years, have helped us to identify areas where we still feel there are improvements to be made.

These are the areas we will be focussing on next.

Specialist Provision

We know there is a need to create more specialist provision in Hertfordshire so that our children and young people can be educated within their own communities. In the past 2 years an additional 233 places have been created in Hertfordshire special schools but we know that the special schools in Hertfordshire are reaching capacity and that the demand for places continues to rise.

Here are some of the ways we plan to address the increased demand so that children with SEND have access to high quality local provision that meets their needs: 

Increasing spaces in Severe Learning Difficulties /Physical and NeurologicaI Impairment sector 

It is clear that there is sustained pressure for places in this sector. To ensure that we can meet the demand in Hertfordshire, around 200 places are planned for delivery from September 2023.

Maintaining and increasing places in the LD sector

Places in this sector will be maintained and marginally increased via the planned rebuilding of The Valley Special School, Stevenage, with 15 additional places, from January 2023.

Delivery of 2 new Communication and Autism schools to meet the needs of children whose needs fall between current special school sectors

It is a priority to focus on meeting the needs of those pupils for whom a traditional SEMH school would not be appropriate (often of a higher academic ability) with autism or a social communication difficulty; significant anxieties, mental health issues and sensory needs. These children have often experienced trauma and have developed negative views of school that mean they have been unable access learning, resulting in school refusal/ phobia. The needs of these pupils will be met through the development of :

  • a new approved 60 place Communication & Autism secondary special school in Welwyn Garden City, phased opening from 2022 at the earliest; and
  • the provision of a new 60 place Communication & Autism primary special school in the centre of the county, phased opening from 2023 at the earliest

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH)

There has been a steady increase in demand across the sector, Essex County Council are opening a new SEMH free school for 90 young people aged 7 - 19 in Harlow in 2022. As the school is close to the border of Hertfordshire, we are reviewing the work as part of an SEMH/ Behaviour review, and the recommendations of that review will be fed into future versions of the Special School Place Planning Strategy. 

Specialist Resource Provision (SRP)

Read more about the planned development of specialist resource provisions (SRPs) for young people with communication difficulties.

Early Years

Our Early Years team are currently working on making improvements to the Early Years offer for children with SEND/additional needs. They will be aiming to better support families of young children with emerging needs by exploring the demand for the creation of a specialist nursery-aged provision for children with complex SEND. Our research suggests that there is a need and we are currently considering suitable locations with the aim of opening the by September 2022

Improving EHCPs

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.

Autism and ADHD

Partners from across the system (Health, Education, Social Care and the Voluntary Sector) have recognised that the demand for services for children and young people with Autism and ADHD has increased significantly in recent years, and families are facing a long wait for diagnoses. They are looking for ways to manage this increased demand and are making changes to ensure that children and young people, parents and carers are getting the support they need in a timely way.  Through working together with different agencies, colleagues and parents, we have agreed the following priority areas for improvement :

  • We aim to increase the capacity of the number of ASD diagnostic assessments we are able to undertake across Hertfordshire, with the aim of reducing the numbers on the ASD waiting list.  We believe this in turn will reduce waiting times for diagnosis
  • We know that there is inconsistency in the ways families access support for ASD in different parts of the county, which leads to confusion for both professionals and parents . We aim to create a single way of working across the county
  • We aim to provide better pre-diagnostic support for families and focus on a needs-led service for children and young people with ASD,  ADHD and/or social communication difficulties


20% of children in the UK have a registered SEND, and so we believe that SEND is everybody’s business. A suite of iLearn training modules about SEND is being created with the aim that all professionals who work with children in any capacity may complete them, with the content available for partners working in health, social care and education. We are working closely with HPCI to create this training. We want to ensure the entire workforce has a basic understanding of SEND needs and services, and how to effectively communicate with and support families and young people with our Professional Promise (PDF 510kb) to families at the heart. 

Preparing for Adulthood

Through feedback from parents and carers we learnt that the post-16 offer for young people and their families has not been clear enough.  Young people and their families didn’t know what is on offer for them in their local areas, and were unsure how to access services.  We are improving the services currently on offer to these young people and are finding better ways of signposting families to them.


Colleagues in education, care and health services are working closely to create smoother transitions for young people from children’s services to adults. They have been identifying broken pathways or places where young people have previously fallen through the gaps and are working to identify and fix those.

Education and Employment  

Services for Young People are working closely with 'Work Solutions' in adult services to improve and increase work and volunteering opportunities, and support young people with SEND to gain employment and/or meaningful day opportunities.   As part of this, we will be identifying how we can support employers and help young people with SEND into employment. 

The 'My Future Coach' programme is currently being piloted in partnership with North Hertfordshire College. This programme involves providing careers information, advice and guidance support to high needs funded students, to enable them to produce a 'My Future ' transition plan. At least 25 of these young people will get either additional coaching or employment support to help them secure their post-college destination. 15-20 young people will join a 'My Future Job Club' where they will be supported to develop a Vocational Profile and/or CV and taught the skills and techniques needed to apply for and secure paid employment or volunteering.


We are working with partners to make sure that young people and their families have greater clarity of what the future looks like for them and know what their options are when it comes to accommodation (eg. what is available to them, and how they can access it). We are particularly looking at improving the offer of supported living in the county. We will help signpost families to organisations who can support them with these conversations and guide them through. 

Annual Health Checks 

We are working with health colleagues to find ways of increasing the uptake of young people going to their GPs for their annual health check.



DSPLs and LSPs

We have started a review of how we support schools and families in Hertfordshire through our Delivering Special Provision Locally (DSPL) and Local School Partnerships (LSP) provision. We are using data and feedback from a range of partners, including families who use the services, to understand how effective these organisations are in achieving their goals of providing early help support to children and young people with SEND, and their families in their local areas. Evidence is already telling us that we need to improve the consistency of the offer across the county to enable more children to remain in mainstream education where appropriate. Recommendations will be shared late Spring 2021.

High needs funding

We want children and young people with SEND to receive the right support at the right time and we know that this has become more difficult where demand on SEND specialist services is increasing. In the next 12 months we will be working closely with schools to see where we can achieve more value for money for services funded from the High Needs Funding arrangements to ultimately help young people achieve better outcomes.



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