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MIXED OPINION: Councillors dismiss damning report on county special needs system despite ‘appalling’ service

 Published on: 23rd November 2021   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

A damning survey of parents whose children are being supported by a county resource connecting them to special needs and disability services has been dismissed by Herts County Council.

SEND National Crisis Hertfordshire ran a survey in October of 170 parents asking how they’ve been impacted by the lack of SEN officers in the last six months, nearly a quarter of whom are categorised under ‘St Albans and Dacorum’.

88 per cent of all respondents said they had been impacted by the lack of officers. 

89 per cent said they’d had problems contacting their officer by email and over a third (out of 131) said they never got a response to emails.

One parent said: “I feel sorry for the SEN officers, but the system is awful at the moment. Something needs to change.”

Another said of the system: “It is absolutely impossible to get hold of anyone to help. We named a new school, but we have no idea if he got in or not putting a smooth transition in jeopardy.”

Liberal Democrat County Councillor Mark Watkins said: “It is all very well having a good strategy, but it counts for nothing if the County does not provide sufficient officers to support and advise families. 

In response to the criticisms, council Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families Teresa Heritage stated: “We understand the strength of feeling from families on these issues and that there is more work to be done. 

“Many of the concerns raised in the survey are addressed in the latest ‘you said, we did’ article on the SEND local offer website.

“The demand for SEND support continues to increase, and it’s no secret that this raises its challenges both nationally and here in Hertfordshire. 

“However, we are committed to making sure that every child has the right opportunities and support in place to meet their needs.”

Picture credit Shutterstock 

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