Like many people in Hertfordshire we were shocked, but unfortunately not surprised, by Ofsted’s assessment that Hertfordshire’s SEND service has been rated as inadequate, its lowest grading. It found that there are widespread failures in Herts County Council’s services for children with special educational needs and disabilities, with many children waiting too long to have their needs assessed let alone addressed and too few specialist school places to meet their needs. There is also inadequate joint working with the Health Service who have also failed to provide the therapists this service requires.
Mark Watkin, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education commented “The government failed to realise the impact that the changes they made to the SEND system in 2015 would have and have failed to provide Herts and other councils with the resources to meet the reasonable expectations of parents and families, but Herts County Council’s Conservative administration has been complacent about the impact of increasing numbers of children with SEND and have failed to take the necessary steps to deal with this. As recently as February they rejected a Liberal Democrat proposal to put additional funding into the processing of Education and Health Care Plans which are a key part of addressing these children’s needs. They have subsequently realised that this was a mistake and have provided extra funding to improve the handling of EHCPs and started to increase the number of specialist school places, but we are yet to see any of the benefits from this.
Although we recognise that there is a problem that the government refuses to provide sufficient SEND funding to both councils and schools it is vital that the Conservatives running Herts County Council take the sweeping actions that the Ofsted report confirms are necessary to ensure that all children in the county get the help that they need and deserve.”