Local Area SEND Inspection report published today (10 Nov 2023)

Ofsted and CQC have today published their Local Area SEND Inspection report for Hertfordshire.

The full 11-page report is available here, but we’ve included below some key points and what this means for improving services going forward.


The inspection found that “There are widespread and/or systemic failings leading to significant concerns about the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), which the local area partnership must address urgently.”

This is the lowest of the three possible judgements that Ofsted / CQC could have made.

The local partnership (HCC and health) has accepted the findings and apologised to families.  They have committed to urgently step up their improvement plans.

What does the report say?

The report summarises the inspectors’ findings on

  • what it is like to be a child or young person with SEND in Hertfordshire
  • where the local partnership is working effectively
  • where it needs to do better

It also sets out

  • areas for priority action:
    • better data to improve understanding of provision
    • joint working, to deliver the SEND Strategy
  • areas for improvement:
    • addressing variability of access to health services
    • EHCP quality
    • accessing agreed provision and appropriate use of part-time timetables
    • wait times and gaps in services provision for Autism, ADHD, mental heath, audiology and speech and language
    • addressing parents’ and carers’ concerns at an early stage to reduce dissatisfaction.

What does HPCI think about the report?

During the inspection, we were pleased that the inspection team took the time to listen to feedback from families – both with HPCI and directly with families who asked to speak to them.  There was a fantastic response to the Ofsted survey and it was clear that the inspectors had also taken into consideration the results of our 2022 HPCI survey.  As a result, we feel that the inspection has reached the right outcome.

While there are a few areas where findings may not reflect the experience of every family, we are pleased to see the clear recognition that services need to improve to meet children’s needs.  Inspectors report that too many children and young people with SEND have to wait for assessments, for suitable provision/support, and often do not feel that they are listened to.  We know that families are struggling and are frustrated with the current situation, but we hope that this inspection will mark a turning point in effective service delivery.

We were also pleased to see that the hard work put in to keep the voice of parent carers in discussions about services was recognised – work with HPCI was highlighted as a strength.

We welcome the urgency with which the local partnership is looking to address the issues raised. It is vital that plans for improvement are delivered quickly and effectively. HPCI will continue to challenge and support the partnership, to drive change and ensure that work remains focused on how these changes will improve the lives of children and young people.

What has the local partnership said?

The local partnership has published their response to the report on the main council and ICB websites and on the Local Offer.  We are pleased that the findings and recommendations of the inspection have been fully accepted and leaders have apologised to families – you can read the full press release here.

Officers from HCC and health have also agreed to come to the next meeting of the HPCI Involvement Partners, which is a group that brings together advice, support, and campaign organisations from across the county. This will be an opportunity for a fuller discussion about the issues identified and the plans for improvement.

What happens now?

The local partnership now needs to prepare a Priority Action Plan that must be submitted to Ofsted within 35 days. This will set out what they plan to do to address the priority actions within the report.

A monitoring inspection will be carried out within 18 months and there will be a full reinspection within three years.

How will parents and carers be involved in driving change?

HPCI will be involved in the improvement work that is coming out of the inspection process, to keep focus on the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND and their families.  We will continue to feed in your views and work to find solutions that will have a positive impact on the lives of our children.

How can you share my thoughts on the report?

If you have any thoughts on the report’s findings or how improvements can be delivered, we would love to hear from you. We will collate these comments and feed them back to the local authority and health.  Please email any feedback to contact@hertsparentcarers.org.uk