Parents of children with special educational needs disabilities (SEND) rated services in Hertfordshire three out of 10 on average, according to a recent satisfaction survey.

The results come from a 2023 questionnaire of Hertfordshire parents on special educational needs disabilities service (SEND), recently published by the Herts Parent Carer Involvement forum (HPCI).

It is part of a Ofsted and CQC framework to help inform future inspections and monitoring of SEND schools, and to help track year-on-year changes.

A total of 931 responses were received from across Hertfordshire, covering all age groups.

Over half of respondents (58 per cent) said support with education, health and care plans (EHCP) were the services most in need of improvement.

The report noted: “A third of respondents reported annual reviews for EHCP not being carried out within statutory deadlines (very similar to last year).

“Where amendments to the plan were needed, 75 per cent reported the deadline for a final version was missed. Well over half of those people then waited over six months for the final version (47 of the 225 respondents to this question waited over a year).

“Comments suggest it’s often the next annual review that prompts the previous year’s EHCP to be issued.”

Four other problem areas selected by carers included mental health services for children and young people (31 per cent), waiting times for education psychologists (28 per cent), NHS services such as physiotherapy (27 per cent) and support from community paediatricians (25 per cent).

HPCI noted: “There are clear levels of dissatisfaction with many services and concerns about the outcomes that are delivered for children and young people.

“In most cases, parent carers’ views and experiences of SEND services in Hertfordshire have not improved in the last year.

“EHC Coordinators and/or EHCP administration continue to be the area of most concern for families, followed by Children and Young People’s Mental Health services and the Educational Psychology service.

It warned: “Many families continue to struggle to find information and support”.

The survey did shore up some positive results, as 54 per cent of respondents gave ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ ratings to schools in identifying SEND needs, while 53 per cent gave the same ratings to teachers.

It also found some geographical differences in satisfaction levels, with the highest approval ratings in Hitchin, Letchworth, Royston and Stevenage areas, and the lowest ratings in and around St Albans, Harpenden, Potter’s Bar and Borehamwood.

Hertfordshire County Council hosted a webinar on Thursday, April 25, for parents to learn about SEND services available to them through its Local Offer website.

The county council stated: “The Local Offer website lets parents, young people and professionals know what special educational needs and disabilities services are available in Hertfordshire, and who can access them. There is so much more than that, too.”

Services on offer include education support, courses and activities in Hertfordshire, help for children and young people up to the age of 25, and assistance for parents, carers and families.

Further services include advice around finances, support with education health and care plans (EHCP), help with early years children and mentoring older teens in preparation for adulthood.