SEND news

Latest news and updates

Updates Transforming SEND services in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire County Council is investing in a significant programme of change over the next two years to transform support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families.

The programme aims to deliver services faster and more effectively as well as meeting the needs of more families in Hertfordshire.

The programme is focusing on three key areas in particular:

(1) Enhancing local delivery networks

Parents, schools and SEND professionals have said they would like local networks of joined-up support with clearer pathways to effective help when needed. The specialist provision working group (see article in this newsletter) has been busy focusing on plans to use funding from our SEND Capital Programme to deliver an additional 80-100 places for next academic year have been identified and are beginning to move through the necessary decision making and implementation stages. Potential sponsors for the new free special school for 60 secondary age pupils with very complex needs In Hertfordshire submitted bids at the end of September. These will now be evaluated by the Department for Education, HCC and HPCI with the successful bidder expected to be announced early in 2020. We’re also developing more specialist provision across the county in mainstream schools for Social and Communication needs and will be sharing more about this during the next few weeks.

Many parents – along with schools – contributed over the summer to the review of Hertfordshire’s Exceptional Needs Funding which is now nearing completion. Since April, an evaluation and review has taken place of the current arrangements for schools and settings to access top-up funding for children and young people with complex needs and will now identify recommendations and options to better support them to achieve successful outcomes in mainstream schools and settings. We’ve also been exploring how to better coordinate the way services from across social care, education and health work together locally. After half-term, we’ll be looking to test some of this out focused in the Stevenage area in particular.

Transforming SEND continued on next page ."Enabling parents and  families . . ."

 (Updates on all Transforming SEND work will be available in each edition of SEND news)


Transforming SEND services continued- "Enabling parents and families . . ."

2) Enabling Parents and Families through the use of digital technology

We’re working hard with families to co-produce a brilliant new Local Offer website and improve our digital SEND Services. This website needs to be as friendly and welcoming as possible for parents who are often stressed, time-poor and looking for a sense of community – along with getting the right information. In other words, we’re not just focussed on making a website that looks pretty – we’re focussing on a design that’s really usable too. We’re now starting to plan for the launch of our new website in January 2020.

You can follow regular updates on this work by reading our blog on the Local Offer.

We’ve also been working closely with Hertfordshire’s SEND IASS service which is a free service that provides confidential and impartial information, advice and support on issues related to SEND for parents of children and young people up to the age of 25. They’re currently developing some new ways of working including developing a new website, introducing a triage service to ensure your queries get answered quickly and appropriately. Alongside this, the SENDIASS team are  strengthening their partnerships with local voluntary organisations such as Families in Focus, who have agreed to work with with SENDIASS  in trialling some 1:1 advice sessions at different venues across Hertfordshire. We will be seeking your views too so please look out for their survey in the near future.

If you would like to meet with members of the SENDIASS team to discuss your individual concerns you can come along to the following sessions.Times and venues are:


7th November (7pm- 9pm)
Oxlease House, Travellers Lane, Hatfield, AL10 8TJ


9th January (7pm- 9pm)
The Harpenden Trust Centre, 90 Southdown Road, Harpenden, AL5 1PS


3rd February (7pm- 9pm)
Stanborough Centre, Armstrong Room, 609 St Albans Road, Watford, WD25 9JL


5th March (9:30am- 11:30am)
Stevenage Phoenix Centre, The Hyde, Stevenage SG2 9SE

Booking for these 1:1 sessions  is essential, and you can do this by emailing 

Transforming SEND continued on next page  - "Better preparation for adulthood"

Transforming SEND services continued . . ."Better preparation for adulthood"

We want to improve access to independent living, employment and training opportunities for young people with SEND so that more young people are able to achieve their ambitions within their local community.

During the summer, nearly 150 parents, professionals and young people attended a series of focus groups helping us to establish our approach in this workstream and we’ll be consulting more widely during the autumn on our plans in this area.

How you can help!

We’re keen to hear a wide range of views to support the programme:  our services are for you and we need your help to make sure they do what you need them to do. One way we’re doing this is through our SEND online feedback group: we particularly want to hear from young people aged 16-25 with SEND and parents / carers of children who have SEND (it doesn't matter if they have a diagnosis or not). We send out regular activities and you can choose how many you want to take part in – you can do as little or as much as you want to. These tests are never a test of your abilities but they help us to make our services better.

You can sign up by following this link here

Equally, we’re always keen to have other feedback and input and you can get in touch by emailing the team:

Tell us what you think about your new HAND eCard

We'd like to hear what you think of the new electronic HAND Card.

If you have logged into your HAND account since 6 August and used your new HAND e-card, can you spare a minute of your time to let us know what you think about it?

This short survey wont take more than a minute and your views are valuable to us. Please follow this link to the survey.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Good news for children and young people’s therapies

From the 1 September this year, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Speech & Language Therapy services for children and young people in Hertfordshire will be joining up, bringing together these therapies under one service.

Jointly funded by health and county council, the new service will be provided by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and will support children and young people aged 0-18 years of age or up to 25 years if therapy is specified in their Education Health and Care Plan. (This excludes physiotherapy which is only to age 18).

The teams are based across the county in

  • North Hertfordshire and Stevenage
  • East Hertfordshire
  • St Albans and Dacorum
  • Watford and Three Rivers

What are the changes in service provision? 

If your child/young person is already known to any of the therapy services they will still receive the support they require and over the next 12 months the existing universal and targeted support offered by the Speech & Language Therapy service (SaLT) will be broadened to include Occupational Therapy (OT).

There will also be increased opportunities for parents and carers to access advice, information and workshops/training.  There is an Advice Line for any queries from parents/carers and professionals. Phone 01992 823093 leaving a message explaining your query and a therapist will contact you.

How to access the service

Sencos, health professionals or another educational professionals can make a referral into the service and if requested as part of an EHCP assessment or plan, SEND Officers will submit the necessary paperwork to the Therapies Service. Any physiotherapy referral must be made by a health professional.

For pre-school children where there are queries regarding speech, language or communication development, families can attend a drop-in screening clinic. Dates for these can be found here on the children’s speech and language service website

There are a number of ways in which you can contact the service or find out more information.




Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy : 01923 470680

Speech and Language Therapy:                  01992 823193  

Hertfordshire's SEND Toolkit for schools

Herts for Learning are pleased to announce the launch of Hertfordshire's first SEND toolkit on special educational needs or disabilities for schools.

SEND advisers from Herts for Learning in partnership with parents from HPCI, have been travelling around the county this October to deliver a series of launch workshops to schools to introduce a new SEND toolkit.

Louise Barrell (HfL) and Gillian Warwick-Thomson show off the toolkit

One of the key drivers of the toolkit is to help professionals deliver the the culture change required by the 2014 SEND reforms. It is based on the SEND reforms but adds the Hertfordshire flavour around what we want to see delivered for our children and young people.  A vast array of resources accompany the toolkit, and include a SEND Benchmark & Planning Tool that helps guide schools to provide and manage quality SEND support.

The suite of SEND materials developed over time provides schools with a vision, a self-evaluation framework and now a toolkit to provide a range of resources, tools and guidance to support the onward journey in supporting children and young people with SEND.

You can see the digital version of the Hertfordshire SEND Toolkit 2019-20 in the SEND documents and guidance page on the Local Offer.

Hungry Little Minds - supporting communication in early years

Improving early communication, language and literacy development is a key priority for the government - children with poor vocabulary skills at age five may be up to twice as likely to be unemployed in their 30s.

In July 2018, the Department for Education (DfE) announced the government’s ambition to halve in ten years the proportion of children who finish reception year without the communication, language and literacy skills they need to thrive. As part of this aim,  DfE has launched Hungry Little Minds – a new three-year campaign to encourage parents and carers to engage in activities that support their child’s early learning and help set them up for school and beyond.

A child’s development begins the moment they are born. Simple activities at home or out and about really help set them up nicely for school. Children soak up every little bit of stimulation you give them. All the little things make a big difference to the development of their speech and understanding of words. Everyday moments can be used to boost your child’s learning, as they are interested in all sorts of things.

The Hungry Little Minds campaign provides lots of simple tips and activities that you can slot into your routine and that children love.

Such as:

• Play ‘I spy’ on the bus with them and you can see their imaginations light up

• Talk to your child about what has happened so far in the day – for example, “We went to the shops this morning, didn’t we? We bought some apples.” And talk about what is going to happen next – “After lunch we’ll do the washing up”

• Look at picture books together. With each new page, give your child time to point out things to you and talk about what they can see. Search Hungry Little Minds for simple tips and activities, or to find out what’s available where you live and help set them up nicely for school.

If you are interested in finding out more, or you would like to be involved, please get in touch with us at

If you are interested in finding out more visit

Identifying speech, language and communication needs

The most recent statistics from the Department for Education reveal that speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) is now the most common primary type of need reported in schools, at 22% of pupils with special educational needs.

Yet this is only half the picture. In a classroom setting, bad behaviour, poor attention and low grades can disguise an underlying difficulty in speaking and understanding. Many children with SLCN get by unnoticed and undiagnosed.    

While awareness of SLCN is on the rise, too many children continue to be unheard. Getting better at identifying problems is the first step to achieving change. Read more about this from 'I CAN Communicate'

Find out what the government is doing through their Hungry Little Minds campaign, featured earlier in this newsletter.

Give a child a #ChanceToThrive

What is the #ChanceToThrive campaign?

Approximately 70% of looked after children have some form of additional need, compared to almost 20% of all children. If you have experience of working with children with additional needs, you'll have the skills to be an amazing foster carer.

That’s why Hertfordshire County Council’s Fostering & Adoption team is launching a new campaign to encourage people with the skills and experience of working with children and young people with additional needs, to consider becoming a foster carer.

The campaign is specifically targeted at people working in health, social care and other similar careers who may have experience of working with this group and the realistic expectations of the level of the care and attention their foster child may need. If you have experience and would like to support a child or young person,  please contact the Fostering team on 0800 917 0925 or visit

Guidance on Dyslexia

Currently there is no universally accepted definition of dyslexia that is based on scientific findings.

Hertfordshire's Integrated Services for Learning team (ISL) has agreed to define dyslexia based on three widely recognised definitions; namely:

  • the Rose Reportiii(2009)
  • the British Psychological Societyiv(2005) and
  • the current British Dyslexia Association definitions.

Dyslexia is a term used to describe difficulties with developing and acquiring accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling, which is severe and persistent in nature despite personalised learning opportunities(ie differentiated learning based on identified strengths and difficulties) and evidenced-based intervention, (ie there is strong research to suggest that the interventions produce the expected and desired outcomes).

Dyslexia is underpinned by difficulties in some or all of the following:

  1. Phonological awareness: the ability to identify, perceive and manipulate sounds in words
  2. Verbal memory: the ability to store, process and manipulate verbal information
  3. Verbal processing speed: the ability to retrieve familiar words quickly and accurately
  4. Visual processing speed: the ability to visually recognise familiar words/symbols/patterns quickly and accurately.

Dyslexia should be recognised as a continuum (from mild to severe) across a range of abilities rather than a discrepancy between intelligence and literacy skills. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor coordination and personal organisation, but these are not by themselves markers of dyslexia. An assessment of dyslexia is a process not an event and should happen over time, taking into account a child/young person’s patterns of strength and needs.

The Educational Psychology and Specific Learning Difficulties teams have been working together to develop guidelines for schools to support work with literacy difficulties including dyslexia.

Primary and Secondary Head Teachers and parents have helped to shape the final document.

It is intended that these guidelines will support Hertfordshire schools with identifying and responding to difficulties through the 'assess – plan – do'  review cycle, which is in line with the current SEN code of practice.

You can find the full guidance documentat

Planning specialist provision for the future

Hertfordshire County Council has set up a Specialist Provsion working group – their purpose is to plan and improve how the county’s specialist provision can cater for the future needs of the majority of the county’s children and young people with complex special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

 This work has to date included:

  • A comprehensive analysis of pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans
  • HPCI obtaining feedback from families with a child in an out of area placement and forming recommendations to address the issues raised. This data was also used in the application for the successful Special Free School Bid (see more about this here)
  • A more rigorous process for identifying pupils with high needs who are at risk of out of county specialist placements has been put in place
  • Admissions Guidance for specialist provision has been refreshed and published here on the Local Offer.

We will bring you a workstream update in the November issue of SEND news.

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