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The state of play: SEND provision in Hertfordshire

With the demand for SEND provision greater than ever, the Roots Federation proposal couldn’t come at a better time. 


The number of young people on Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in England currently stands at 517,026, more than double the number in 2015.


This trend is reflected locally. Hertfordshire has seen a 37% increase in pupils with EHCPs over the past three years and a 156% increase in requests for assessments since 2015.


The Council has taken steps to accommodate the increased need, but the situation for many families remains desperate.


In Hertfordshire, 800 children are still waiting to obtain EHCPs. Many of those with a plan will fail to secure a place in a special needs school.


A recent report by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission revealed that the pandemic deeply disrupted the education of many of our most vulnerable children, increasing the need for support.


Families are often left relying on charities. But the rising cost of rent and service level agreements make it hard for charities to find affordable spaces where they can deliver their critical services.


A SEND hub on Church Street would make significant headway in addressing the unmet need for SEND support.

Meeting a critical need: an early years hub for joined-up care

By bringing together charities and service providers in health care, social care and SEND specialities, the hub would become a community of support for children with speech and language difficulties, autism, Down’s syndrome, deafness and other complex needs.


The fully accessible building would provide office space, clinical rooms, specially adapted playrooms, meeting rooms, classrooms and more. With a kitchen, disabled toilets and outdoor areas, there would be huge scope to support complex and interdisciplinary care.


When a child has complex needs, families often seek help from a wide range of providers, with time and travel demands that can take a huge toll.


Elouise Caisley, whose son Henry is waiting for an assessment for ASD and ADHD, is one such parent:

“We often struggle to find services locally that cater to children with SEN. Having something like this in St Albans or a communal space where clubs or classes could be held would be invaluable to us and my son.”

The Church Street hub would have on-site parking, good bus and train links, and would give all providers a shared location, making it easier for families to find and attend the services they need.

Financing the project: a five-year plan

To provide vital long-term support for children with special educational needs and disabilities requires Hertfordshire County Council to buy the property from the NHS for £3.75m.


A detailed financial plan shows that the Council would recoup the cost of the purchase within five years.


By giving children support at the most important developmental stage of their lives, the hub will help them access mainstream services and alleviate demand for more critical interventions later in life relieving pressure on other services.

The long-term vision: a thriving community of SEND excellence

The hub will become Hertfordshire’s keystone community for SEND early years education. Working together from a single location, providers will deliver an integrated service and joined-up care – the gold standard of SEND provision.


Not only will it be a ‘one-stop shop’ for families who need a range of specialists, it will also become an invaluable community space where they can connect, share experiences and find emotional support from others who understand the unique difficulties they face.


As well as community and connection, the hub would provide families with workshops and training sessions on supporting their child; much-needed information about services, legal rights, and best practices; and resource pools for specialist technology, material, and equipment which would otherwise be costly or challenging to access.

The long-term vision: a thriving community of SEND excellence

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper has spoken out on the quality of SEND provision in Hertfordshire and supports the purchase of the nursery building:


“Families in Hertfordshire are already being short-changed by the Government, as SEND funding in Buckinghamshire was £823 per head for 2021-2022, while for Hertfordshire it was only £549.


“While I continue my campaign to call on the Conservative government to provide fair SEND funding, I’m also backing Chris White’s calls for the Conservative-led county council to start prioritising SEND, and to buy the Muriel Green nursery building.”

Help us make this a reality 

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