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We want all SEND services, support and provision (sometimes called the Local Offer) to be as good as it possibly can and that’s why your feedback is so important to us.

On this page we regularly publish the comments we've received about the Local Offer and the actions we've taken in response. This feedback can help up improve and develop:

  • the accessibility of information on the Local Offer website
  • how local service offers have been developed or reviewed
  • the quality of existing provision and any gaps in the provision

How we are responding to the biggest challenges in SEND in Hertfordshire

We understand that not getting a response or having to wait a long time is frustrating. It’s not good enough and although we know there is a national resource issue, we’re sorry if we haven’t always been able to get this right for every family in Hertfordshire.

We want you to know that we are listening and we’re working hard to make improvements. We cannot make these changes overnight, we need time to recruit more EHC Coordinators, to catch up on outstanding enquires and to increase space at existing schools or even build new ones.

We want to say thank you to every child or young person with SEND and their families for your continued patience and understanding while we work towards making these improvements and especially to those who have taken the time to engage in this process with us and with HPCI.

You said

Young people with eligible social care needs do not always have the information and support that they need at the right time

We did 

Working with Herts Parent Carer Involvement (HPCI), 0-25 Together Service has produced new guidance for professionals to make sure they work together to provide the right information at the right time.  We have reviewed pathways within the 0-25 Together Service to ensure that more resources are available to help young people aged 14 plus, access support with their learning for living and work.  

Find out more about preparing for adulthood in Hertfordshire https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/microsites/local-offer/preparing-for-adulthood/preparing-for-adulthood.aspx


You Said

We are waiting for a diagnosis for autism/ADHD but we need help while we are waiting.

 

We Did

The SLCA team provide advice and support for children and young people with and without diagnosis. The service is needs led rather than reliant on diagnosis. We have also developed the Hertfordshire Autism Training package in order to support schools in developing their provision for children and young people with communication and autism needs. We are developing ADHD training in the coming year.

Since 2020 we have increased the number of workshops for parents/carers that offer advice and support.  We have put many of these online because parents told us that they would like to view them in their own time and share with members of their extended family, such as grandparents.


You Said

Schools need training with a greater focus on practical strategies and approaches for autism that can be implemented to improve provision.

 

We Did

The SLCA team have developed Hertfordshire Autism Training, in collaboration with stakeholders, to ensure a clearer focus on strategies and are establishing improved processes to support schools in embedding these approaches as part of whole-school provision.

 


You Said

We needed to adapt the HCC Chaperone licensing policy to enable urgent licenses to be awarded.

 

We did

The policy has been reviewed and updated and the Senior Manager will make a decision on fast tracking licences on an individual basis to support and ensure local residents are provided with the licence as quickly as possible.

 


You Said

We needed to provide more education through Education Support for Medical Absence Team.

 

We did

We restructured the service and introduced a graduated response. In 2020 children and young people accessing ESMA received on average 2 hours of education per week. In the 2022/23 academic year ESMA has provided an average of 11.2 hours of education per week.

 


You Said

Special schools did not have enough involvement in the process when children transition from primary to secondary school. 

 

We Did

We redesigned the process so that it starts with a joint meeting with special school headteachers in primary and secondary settings so that headteachers are able to share their experience of the children in their setting as a core part of the transition process.


You Said

That schools needed support to improve the communication with parents. 

 

We Did

We offer our SEND Implementation support officers to act as a bridge between school, family and local authority services. 

 


You Said

That schools had difficulties knowing the best way to communicate with us, and who to go to for advice. 

 

We Did

We put in place the ASK Sali support line to offer school SENCOs advice, support and a space to listen to issues and challenges.

 


You Said

That schools had difficulties with demonstrating 'Assess Plan Do Review'.

 

We Did

We introduced the VSEND tool that helps schools to baseline their SEND skills through setting readiness, and to understand children’s needs through child’s profile.

 


You said

It's hard to contact anyone from the SEND Team in relation to the EHCP process. You were getting through to voicemail boxes in statutory SEND which were full, and you couldn’t get through to the team.  You said you were waiting too long for callbacks.

We know that some parents and carers may be experiencing delays in getting through to our SEND team and we understand that can be frustrating. Unfortunately, we’ve got reduced resources right now but we’re working hard to try and get back to you as quickly as we can. 

We did 

Our Customer Service Centre (CSC) is now supporting the SEND Team with enquiries to their duty lines. We have trained our CSC staff to use our new EHCPs online system, meaning they will be able to answer most enquiries straight away, and advise who your named EHC Coordinator is.  The Customer Service Centre can also provide a callback service so that it is always possible to get a message to a member of the team.  We increased the number of callbacks in diaries for all members of the statutory SEND team so that you don't have to wait too long.

We've also introduced some new inboxes which should make it easier for families to contact us. To find out more, visit our Contacting the SEND Team webpage.


You said

What is being done about the lack of EHC Coordinators in Hertfordshire?

Nationally there is a shortage of EHC Coordinators and this makes it challenging to get specialist support to all of the families that need our help as quickly as we’d like to.

We did

We have been successful in getting some extra resource into the SEND service; however we need more and are continuing to actively recruit for EHC Coordinators. We’ve also recruited some support staff to help us to try and record incoming enquiries and help our EHC Coordinators to respond to families as quickly as possible. 


You said

What is being done about the backlog of annual reviews?

The number of EHCPs nationally has increased significantly over the last 2 years, and Hertfordshire is no exception to this. 

We did

We employed a new team dedicated to clearing our EHC review backlog earlier this year, and they have processed over 3000 reviews since February. We have also changed the way that EHCP reviews are received from September, and reviews now go first to this dedicated Review team. This team operates a triage system, processing any straight forward reviews swiftly when received, with more complex reviews escalated to EHC Coordinators. This new system will free up time for the EHC Coordinators to focus on the more in-depth casework with schools and families and will prevent a new backlog of reviews building up.

To help manage the annual review process in the future, we are rolling out a new online tool for schools to send to the SEND team following EHCP reviews. 20 special schools are currently using or being trained on the system. We have had great feedback from schools already using this tool. The new system saves lots of administrative time and supports officers to accurately process changes to EHCPs following review. We plan to roll this tool out to local colleges next, and then mainstream secondary schools. 


You said

There aren't enough special school places in Hertfordshire. What are you doing about this?

Hertfordshire, in common with many local authorities, is experiencing high demand for specialist provision. We have increased the number of special schools places by 383 in the last 5 years and there are further exciting developments on the way.

We did

Our Special School Place Strategy 2020-23 sets out our commitment and investment to create over 300 new permanent special school places, and the development of a countywide pattern of specialist resource provision in mainstream schools, in the next 5 years.

Find out about our priorities and how we're creating new special school places and provision in Hertfordshire.


You said

How are you supporting children with complex needs when there are no special school places?

There is no doubt that we need more special school places for some children with complex needs, including learning disabilities. We know that it will take time to achieve this, however we are committed to making sure that all children and young people with SEND in Hertfordshire have access to the right, nurturing environment to allow them to learn and to thrive.

We did

Where children cannot be placed in a special school, we work hard to find them a safe, suitable alternative in a local mainstream school. Most mainstream schools have excellent SEN support and promote inclusive learning for all of their students. Read more about how your child is supported in a mainstream setting.

We are working with special schools, specialist and alternative provision on plans to ensure that there are enough local places that meet pupils' needs in the short term, whilst we embed other initiatives.


Website feedback reports

In 2022/23 we gratefully received over 1252 pieces of feedback about the Local Offer website and suggestions from you about how we can continue to improve the information available. Over time we have been able to group these individual comments into wider themes and have been working on tackling some of these issues ever since.

Website feedback report 2022-2023

You said

In a peer review of the Local Offer with Hillingdon Council, they identified that we didn't have information on the Local Offer about provision out of county. 

We did

We have now added a new page to the Local Offer for parents and carers wanting information about schools in bordering counties


You said

You said you wanted more information about SEN funding in schools, including Top Up Higher Needs Funding (HNF). 

We did

We have updated our SEN funding webpage with clear and up-to-date information about the different types of additional funding available for schools and settings to support children and young people with SEND.


You said

You wanted better information around supporting and understanding behaviours that challenge, and a more sensitive approach when writing about this topic.

We did

We carried out lots of user research in this area, including several 1-1 meetings with parents, and re-wrote our Behaviours that Challenge page to include more advice and information for parents.  We took on board feedback around the use of language, and writing for a neuro-diverse audience and will use this when creating new content for the Local Offer. 

You can read more about how we worked with parents to re-write our content in our 'Talking about Behaviour' blog.


You said

You told us you were finding it difficult to contact the statutory SEND team.

We did

We created a new page with information on how to contact the statutory SEND team and what to do if you don't hear back from them.


You said

The Herts Parent Carers Involvement annual survey highlighted that not enough parents and carers know about the Local Offer website.

We did 

We held an evening webinar (promoted through SEND news and our social media channels, and partners) to explain what the Local Offer is and how it can be used to find support.  We will continue to find new ways to raise awareness of the website.

We now have an ongoing programme of webinars for all staff which we deliver termly.  By raising awareness of the Local Offer amongst professionals, we hope that they can support better the families they are working with.


You said

You said you wanted clearer information about the process of requesting a special school place and what to expect if a place isn't available. 

We did

We worked with colleagues from the specialist provision team to update our requesting a special school place webpage and included additional information on how your child will be supported in a mainstream school if they are waiting for a place to become available.

Website feedback report 2021-2022

You said

You needed clearer information on the different mental health services available for children and young people, and how to access them.

We did

 We worked with health colleagues, our SEND Online feedback group, and parent representatives, to improve the navigation of the Mental Health and Wellbeing page, and make the information on services clearer (including the eligibility criteria and how to refer to the services).


You said

Our information on the Early Years section of the website needed updating.

We did

We worked with our colleagues in the Early Years team, and with parents of young children, to refresh the content of the Early Years pages on the Local Offer.  We also created a brand new page for parents 'new to SEND' with information about the kind of support they can expect, and how to find it.


You said

You needed more information on how to support your child when starting a new school, or when moving from one phase of education to another.

We did

We worked with parents from our SEND Online Feedback group, and with our colleagues in education, to create a brand new page with information and advice on 'transitions'. 


You said

You were finding it hard to find contact details for the different services.

We did

 We created a dedicated 'Contact a SEND Service' page which has all the contact information for the different teams in one place.


You said

 You requested a template to use in the EHCP annual reviews.

We did

We worked with colleagues from the SEND department and have now included the EHC assessment form template and the annual review forms on the EHCP pages of our website.

Website feedback report 2020-2021


You said

When schools first closed due to Covid, you said you needed more online resources for home learning.

We did

We set up an enhanced resource area on our website and as a result we saw our web traffic increase significantly on these pages. You can read more about this on our 'resources area re-visited' blog.


You said

When people were asked to wear masks due to Covid, you said you needed more information on face-covering exemptions.

We did

We created a separate face-covering exemption webpage with information on who is considered exempt from these rules, and downloadable printable forms for you to use.


You said

You needed more information about the role of a SENCo in schools.

We did

We created a new webpage about getting help at school from your SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator), co-produced with 16 of our parents from our SEND Online Feedback Group.


You said

You were finding it hard to find contact details for the teams they needed.

We did

Services have created new duty lines during the pandemic and we are working to make these easily available to people by sharing the details on the website and on social media. We are building a ‘contact’ page so people can find everything in one place.


You said

You were finding it hard to keep up with the ever-changing situation in the coronavirus pandemic.

We did

We created a new coronavirus section of the website, which evolved throughout the changing pandemic to disseminate messages, and which we also shared via social media.



You said

You thought the Preparing for Adulthood section of the website was not detailed enough and information was missing.

We did

We conducted a full co-produced review of the Preparing for Adulthood webpages, adding brand new pages and topics and working with both parents and young people.  You can find out more about this on our blog post about improving our online content for PFA.


Website feedback report 2019-2020

You said

You told us that you want to see information that is relevant to specific educational needs such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia.

We did

In order to make sure that we are providing relevant information for everybody, with any kind of need, we constantly refer to our website analytics to make sure that we are picking up on specific search terms. We then make sure that those search terms will take a person straight to the correct support pages.


You said

You told us that you needed more clarity around Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

We did

Last year we only had one webpage dedicated to EHCPs. After listening to your comments, we have gone on to publish information about the entire EHCP process and the support available to you, resulting in an additional 5 webpages of information.


You said

You told us that you would like to see some sentences reworded or rephrased in order to make them more factual.

We did

We have reconsidered our language and word choices in situations where an action is compulsory to reflect our legal obligations.


You said

You told us that you wanted to see all the different services, organisations and support groups listed on webpages that are relevant to your child or young person.

We did

We are currently working with the Hertfordshire Directory team to ensure the quality and maintenance of organisation and service information and shall continue to link to this information from our webpages wherever possible.


You said

You told us that contact details for services or teams are not always obvious.

We did

We will continue to ensure that relevant contact details on individual service pages are presented clearly, and during times of disruption we make sure to display any details of advice lines or other temporary support networks that can help with quick queries and concerns. Where it’s not possible to provide specific contact details, we have our general Local Offer email address, where there will always be someone who can help with your query.


You said

You told us that you wanted to see more information about helping your child or young person prepare for the next stages in their life.

We did

We are constantly working with relevant teams and individuals to ensure that the information on our Preparing for Adulthood pages is up-to-date and accurate. We also have two ‘Experts by Experience’ on our team who are the voice of young adults with SEND, reviewing first-hand the accuracy of the information in this area of the Local Offer.


You said

You told us that you needed resources to help you support your child or young person with their learning from home.

You told us that you wanted to be able to have the option to leave more detailed feedback.

We did

We published our Resources Area which is full to the brim with usable documents, websites, apps and printable materials for families and professionals.


You said

You told us that you wanted to be able to have the option to leave more detailed feedback.

We did

We have a pop-up feedback poll on all webpages that allows you to both rate the webpage and add additional details. We also have our own online research group composed of parents and carers of children or young people with SEND and young people with SEND aged 16 – 25.


You said

 You told us that you needed to know whether you could get childcare help.

We did

 We know that it is vital that parents of children with SEND are able to access regular childcare and wraparound care options and so we have a webpage specifically dedicated to this information.

UPDATE: in 2021 we have refreshed and expanded our early years area, which has included updating the way we share childcare information


You said

You told us that you needed more information and looking and specific definitions of types of special schools.

We did

We are constantly updating our information on special schools. You can view our updated special schools information here.


Responding to feedback in other services


Children and Young Person's Therapy Services

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) provides services like Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Physiotherapy to children and young people in Hertfordshire.  Responding to feedback they have received about the service, they have made the following improvements:

  • There is now a single point for referrals to the Therapy Service making it easier for parents, carers and professionals and allowing a quicker response to queries. This also allows for services to work to statutory timeframes and improved monitoring systems
  • They have made improvements in the quality of the service, including increasing the number of appointments available
  • They have introduced an Integrated Advice Line for parents and professionals for all 3 therapy disciplines with a message facility available 24/7, and with daily call back from therapists  
  • Universal Sensory Information sessions are now available for parents and carers without the need for a referral to the OT service. This will give parents a greater understanding and confidence to support their child earlier in their journey, minimising risk of longer term impacts.
  • Various training sessions and workshops have been developed for parents, carers and professionals that can be accessed virtually 
  • You said: you wanted more multi-disciplinary working and better access to follow-up therapies.
    We did: we piloted a new integrated therapy clinic for children with Down's Syndrome
  • You said: you wanted an easier way to book into virtual screening clinics
    We did: we replaced eventbrite with a new process where families can contact us directly.
  • You said: our website is too wordy and difficult to navigate
    We did: we streamlined the information on our webpages and are engaging users to redesign our pages to make them more user friendly.
  • You said: you wanted school staff training to include specific info about your children's sensory needs 
    We did: we created a new sensory training package for school staff to be delivered this summer
  • You said: the provision in EHCP reports was sometimes not clear enough
    We did: we have updated our EHCP reports to improve the specificity in the health provision 
  • You said: you sometimes have to wait too long at the SLT drop in clinics
    We did: we now offer bookable virtual screening clinics for SLT and OT
  • You Said: it takes a long time to get the letters from the therapist which set out the support needed, and the school doesn’t know how to help my child.
    We did: Since 2022 we have emailed the assessment letter to schools so that they have our report more quickly.
  • You said: you wanted more information and support about how to access our centres.
    We did: We created a CYP Therapies video to help guide families and CYP around the Peace Children's Centre
  • You said: you wanted an initial telephone consultation to reduce the amount of time for home visits and to clarify what to expect in an assessment
    We did: we now use initial telephone consulations before planned social care home visit assessment
  • You said: you wanted to understand the Speech and Language Therapy service referral criteria and pathway for all school aged children and young people.
    We did: we now offer bookable virtual SENCo refresher training sessions across the locality.
  • You said: The model of Speech and Language Therapy ‘episodes of care’ mean my child is discharged when their needs have not been completely met.
  • We did: In 2022 we changed the pathway and now after a period of support, the therapist discusses with the parent/carers if the need has been met.  Where a parent agrees that the support needs time to embed, we will watch and wait for an agreed period before re-assessing.  If the need has not been met support will continue.

Educational Psychology

You said: that you were waiting too long for autism diagnoses.
We did: The Educational Psychology service, in partnership with West Herts Health Service, has trained EPs to undertake autism assessments to address some of the backlog.

You said: Schools/parents were finding it difficult to address some of the presentations with ADHD.
We did: As an EP service, we designed and delivered to schools, training on executive functioning difficulties and provided resources for schools to use.

You said: that schools and parents needed more support around Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA)
We did: The EP Service piloted workshops in the West, for parents and schools regarding EBSA

Early Years

In response to feedback from their service users, our Early Years team have been making improvements to the Early Years offer for children with SEND and/or additional needs.  Here are some improvements they have recently made to better support families of young children with emerging needs:

You said: You don’t understand the processes for support and referral routes in to the SEND system.

We Did: 

  • Family Centres introduced SEND Champions in 2018 to support families and signpost parents to access better information and advice.The SEND Champions have all received training from HPCI into how to signpost parents to access better information and advice and have also received training from our Specialist Advisory Teachers in autism awareness and basic awareness of SEND.
  • Set up SEND drop ins in Family Centres where parents have an opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have, find out information about local support groups and meet other families.
  • Started Early Support Sessions. A multi-agency initiative which brings together Public Health Nursing, Integrated Services for Learning (ISL) and the Family Support Service in one place to provide support for children with an identified or emerging need who are not accessing free or privately funded early years education. 

You Said: My child isn’t ready to access early years education or groups

We Did:

  • We started Early Adventurers in 2022, an 8 week course for children with either a diagnosed or emerging SEND. The course aims to promote parent confidence and the children’s basic skills to help them become ready for the next stage of education.

Short Breaks  

SEND Commissioning continue to develop the Short Breaks services listening to families feedback.

You said: There aren't enough short breaks on the Local Offer, or the right kind of activities my child enjoys.

We Did: We set up a group to work with parents/carers to work out how we can better allocate the funding that is available.  We have developed  a new model and secured 37% additional funding from April 2023 to ensure we can provide more accessible community activities and better support children and their families.   

In 2021, we launched a survey with HPCI that was open to parent carers of children and young people (CYP) with SEND in Hertfordshire. 91 parent carers completed the survey from across the county.  60% said that the type of short break service that would add more value to their child and family was sporting and exercise activities, and Hemel Hempstead came up as one of the preferred locations. SEND Commissioning work closely with our providers to ensure the programmes delivered continue to meet the demands of families and in 2021 this has included working with a new provider - Sport Works - to offer sporting activities in Hemel Hempstead.


Ask, Listen, Do

Ask, Listen, Do is a project led by NHS England that aims to make it easier for people with SEND and their families to issue feedback, voice their concerns or make a complaint. The initiative aims to support organisations to learn from and develop better ways of using feedback to help improve services across education, health and social care.

We (Hertfordshire County Council) are working in partnership with NHS England on the Ask, Listen, Do project. 

For more information visit the Ask, Listen, Do page of the NHS England website or you can view the easy read leaflet (pdf 543kb).

Page was last updated on: 19/01/2024 13:56:40

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