Liberal Democrats have condemned the Conservatives who are in charge at Herts County Council for their complacent response to the damning OFSTED report on the council’s services for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. The report, published on 10th November, said that there were “widespread and/or systemic failings” and that the council had “not acted with the necessary urgency to address long-standing, systemic and significant weaknesses”.
Liberal Democrat education spokesperson County Councillor Mark Watkin said, “OFSTED has confirmed what many parents have known for a long time that Hertfordshire’s SEND services have been failing local children. The report makes it clear that the council has persistently under estimated the scale of the challenges and that the actions that they have taken to address the concerns of parents have been too little and much too late.“The Council’s inadequate response has been to list the changes that they have already made and claim that they have ‘already put in place strong improvement plans’. That really does not give much confidence that things are really going to change in the way that OFSTED makes clear is necessary, or explain why it took such a critical report before the council admitted to its failings.”
A major plank of the Conservatives’ response – increasing the number of staff dealing with Education, Health and Care Plans – which was announced in the summer has still not resulted in any improvements. Liberal Democrats are calling for this to be accelerated to deliver improvements faster as part of the changes required by OFSTED’s report.