New Specialist Resource Provisions – HPCI’s response
HPCI has been made aware of an online petition against the setting up of specialist resource provisions in Hertfordshire. We are concerned that parents may sign this petition not knowing that the contents of the petition are potentially both misleading and inaccurate. HPCI has had parent reps closely involved in all stages of this new development and as an organisation we are supportive of it. The petition has been set up by speech and language therapists who do not have recent relevant experience in Hertfordshire.
The petition states that the new bases are only for pupils with autism. It is our clear understanding that the proposed specialist resource provisions will not only be available to pupils with autism they will continue to provide provision for pupils with severe speech and language difficulties including those with severe DLD. Secondary provision will actually increase from two bases currently to four.
The petition also describes the bases as often being full or oversubscribed. This is also inaccurate as the current data shows that for several years the speech and language bases have been undersubscribed with many empty places which is not an effective use of resources.
ALSO for your information Hertfordshire County Council’s response to the petition
The SLCN workstream 2015 – 2018, identified the lack of take up of places and recommended a review of the admissions criteria. At the same time the autism workstream identified a gap in provision in Hertfordshire for children with communication and autism.
Currently we have commissioned 124 places and 71 have been taken up leaving 53 places at a cost of £53,000 to local authority unused. The proposal for SRPs seeks to expand the offer with 80 places in secondary schools and a further 96 places for primary schools a total of 176 places in the first instance.
Hertfordshire invited schools to express an interest in the SRPs and shared a specification. The commitment was to ensure that current bases if they wished continued to offer. Four existing bases had already expressed a desire to cease their offer and have stepped out of the process. Their SLCN offer will continue and children placed with them will be secure and transition to the new SRP if they need this.
We have been clear that we are not ‘closing’ a provision but extending the offer and meeting the needs of children in Hertfordshire. Children with Developmental Language Delay who meet the admissions criteria will continue to access provisions.
Each child is unique and has their own individual educational needs. Children with language and communication difficulties have to wait for a diagnosis of DLD and this has meant intervention is often delayed. The SRPs will ensure early intervention based on a child’s presenting educational needs and will not rely on a medical model of diagnosis for appropriate support.