Council officials in Hertfordshire draft new special educational needs and disabilities strategy

The refreshed SEND Strategy is based around five ambitions

Children's services bosses are to consult on a new strategy that makes special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) ‘everybody’s business’.

The refreshed SEND Strategy is based around five ambitions – and at its heart is the idea that SEND is ‘everybody’s business’.

It includes an ambition to provide ‘flexible’ services that ‘respect individual wishes and meet individual needs’, as well as a further ambition to ensure provision within the county is ‘sufficient and appropriate’.

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There is the ambition to develop ‘a skilled, learning workforce that strives for excellence, as well as to work in partnership with other organisations to ‘to deliver the right services at the right time to prevent problems arising’.

And there is a final ambition to support all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities ‘to achieve success in all areas of life’ and to understand the impact of the pandemic.

Against each ambition are details about the actions that will be taken – and how progress will be measured.

The new draft strategy is said to reflect the ‘significant increase in demand, activity and improvements’ already undertaken.

And last week it was outlined to councillors at three cabinet panel meetings.

In September children’s services officials are planning to consult with the public and professionals on the strategy, with a range of in-person and online meetings.

And in October a meeting of the county council’s cabinet will be asked to approve the strategy, subject to any amendments – before a formal launch in January 2022 .

As part of the consultation, there will also be a school drawing competition.

The number of Hertfordshire children and young people with an ‘education health and care plan’ (EHCP) has more than doubled over the past six years.

An EHCP is now available for children and young people up to the age of 25, who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.

And the plan is used to identify the additional support needed – often in an educational setting – in order to meet those needs.

Data presented to a meeting of the county council’s children, young people and families cabinet panel on Wednesday, July 14, shows that in 2015 there were 3,682 EHCPs in Hertfordshire.

But by this year (2021) that figure had more than doubled to 8,338.

In terms of the overall number of EHCPs, Hertfordshire rates as the sixth highest in the country.

However, the rate per 10,000 of 0-25 population is just 223.9 – which is below the national average of 246.

At the meeting it was reported that the county council received around 139 requests for EHCPs per month.