SEN Information Report
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Update to SEN Information Report in the light of COVID-19
This is an update to the SEND Information Report, setting out the arrangements in place to support our children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities during the COVID-19 related partial school closure starting from 20th March 2020.
Since the situation in which we find ourselves is fast-moving; this report is based on current information available and is subject to change.
What are the entitlements of children and young people with SEN when schools are closed to Coronavirus?
From 20th March 2020 All schools were ordered to effectively close, retaining a skeleton staff to provide education for the children of key workers, and some ‘vulnerable children’.
Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC). The majority of children with SEND, who receive SEN Support at school but do not have an EHC plan, are expected to stay home unless they have a social worker or a parent or carer who is a critical worker.
From 11 May 2020 new guidance was issued, which stated:
“Now that we have made progress in reducing the transmission of coronavirus we are encouraging all eligible children to attend – it is no longer necessary for parents of eligible children to keep them at home if they can.”
Do schools have to allow all children with EHC plans to attend?
No – it will depend on whether they would be as safe or safer attending school rather staying home.
For children with complex needs, Local Authorities and schools have been advised to carry out a risk assessment to determine whether “their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment”
Not all children with EHC plans will have ‘complex needs’ (and equally some children without EHC plans may have complex needs); whether or not a risk assessment was necessary has been determined by the school and the Local Authority.
All children with an EHCP at Blackheath Primary School have had a risk assessment undertaken.
These risk assessments take into account:
- the potential health risks to the individual from COVID-19, bearing in mind any underlying health conditions. This will be on an individual basis and with advice from an appropriate health professional where required
- the risk to the individual if some or all elements of their EHC plan cannot be delivered at all, and the risk if they cannot be delivered in the normal manner or in the usual setting
- the ability of the individual’s parents or home to ensure their health and care needs can be met safely
- the potential impact to the individual’s wellbeing of changes to routine or the way in which provision is delivered
- the availability of appropriately trained staff (school will liaise with the local authority if a place is needed for an eligible child, but the school is unable to provide the specialist staffing for it)
- the views of parents and children will be considered in determining whether children with EHC plans take up an eligible place in school
Government guidance enables schools, in collaboration with parents, assess the risks of both options. Where a child with an EHC plan will be safer at home, the DfE recommends they stay at home. Where they will be as safe or safer at an education setting, the DfE recommends they attend the education setting. (Therefore, the advice that all eligible children should attend “if they can” would be superseded by a risk assessment concluding that the child in question is safer at home.)
For children with EHC plans who do not fall into the ‘complex needs’ category, and for whom no formal risk assessment has been carried out, the current government position is that education at school should be available and they should be “encouraged” to attend.
Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Secretary of State has temporarily disapplied the criminal penalty for parents failing to send their children to school for a specified period (currently 1 May – 30 June). This is reflected in the guidance for parents. While emphasising that parents of eligible children are “strongly encouraged” to send their children to school, the guidance states, “Parents will not be penalised for non-attendance at this time”.
In addition to these risk assessments, all families with children who attend Blackheath Primary School and have an EHC plan receive weekly well-being phone calls by a member of staff. These phone calls are to check that families can access appropriate help and advice during the COVID-19 situation and to ensure that any risks to a child or young person’s health, well-being or safety if they do not receive a particular provision or intervention, are addressed.
How long are schools likely be closed?
Schools should currently be providing support to some vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Children and young people – regardless of year group – with EHC plans who have not been attending their setting in the recent period are “expected” to return if their risk assessment determines it is appropriate for them to.
The government has begun a partial re-opening of schools from 1 June 2020.
The first phase of wider re-opening in mainstream schools will apply to: Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools.
It is not yet clear when further year groups will be asked to attend.
My child has an EHC plan – does the Local Authority still have a legal duty to deliver provision?
Yes – however, given the significant disruption to staffing, it may be very difficult for schools or Local Authorities to deliver the precise provision in the EHC plan over the next few weeks.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 has temporarily amended the absolute duty to make the provision in an EHC plan (section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014) to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty. This means that Local Authorities need to do whatever they reasonably can to put provision in place, but if they cannot do so they would not necessarily be breaching the law.
The guidance on EHC needs assessments and plans during the COVID-19 crisis explains that LAs and health commissioning bodies “must consider for each child and young person with an EHC plan what they can reasonably provide in the circumstances”. This includes considering the individual child/young person’s needs, as well as their and their parents’ views, and keeping arrangements for provision under review.
As a school we will continue to keep in touch with you. In the meantime, as parents/carers please contact us if you have any enquiries about the provision for your child including how we can help with any provision.
Please ring the school on 0121 559 1033 or email the SENCo, Jo Morgan, direct at email@example.com
If there could be a risk to your child’s health, well-being or safety if they do not receive a particular provision or intervention, please raise this with us an without delay.
My child has an EHCP plan and was due to have an Annual Review. What will happen now?
Blackheath Primary School will continue to hold Annual Reviews if at all possible. This will, of course, need to be carried out remotely and when the time comes we will speak to you first about how this will be managed to ensure that the contribution of parents and children continue to be at the heart of the process.
A request for statutory assessment for my child has been sent to the Local Authority – will they still carry out an assessment?
The Local Authority will continue to carry out EHC assessments. The Authority’s ability to comply with deadlines may be hampered by staff absence; and the way EHC assessments are usually conducted may be affected by the availability of staff and restrictions on face to face contact and working from home. The Local Authority will endeavour to continue to fulfil statutory duties within a reasonable time frame.
My child has an EHCP plan and is still attending school – how will my child’s learning be supported at school?
It is important to note that school will endeavour to provide as a full a curriculum as possible. The emphasis will be upon children’s well-being and learning in maths and English. The range of activities on offer may not be fully in line with a child’s EHC provision.
- Due to staffing issues there may need to be alterations to the frequency and timing of the delivery of provision in school, e.g. moving to a part-time timetable
- If the school is closed, there may need to be a temporary placement in another school.
How can I support my child’s learning at home?
On closure of school, all children were given a pack of work to complete at home. Children with Identified Special Needs such as Speech and Language or support from Inclusion Support will have been given additional resource packs to support their needs at home.
Home learning is accessible via the school website where work is provided weekly via a Padlet link. Please use the Home Learning Resources link on the website. In addition:
- Y2, Y3, Y4,Y5 parents/children can comment on their work/contact their teacher via the backpack Padlet at certain times of the day.
- Y5 children have received an additional pack of work to help them with their transition into Y6, Completed work can be dropped off at school
The school website also has a number of bespoke resources available to help support your Special Needs child at home during this period. In addition the SENCo has sent home resources to support different areas of SEND need and key websites to support the needs of each child.
If your child has an identified Special Educational Need and is on the register the class teacher will have taken account of their needs when planning for and providing for work to be completed at home. However, if your child is working below age related expectations or has specific SEN needs that means they access the curriculum at a different level, please use information and links from earlier year groups.
If your child is staying at home and it is not possible for direct therapy to be delivered in the home setting, it may be possible for:
- A speech and language therapist to deliver sessions via video link or phone call
- An occupational therapist or a physiotherapist video linking to a child’s home and modelling exercises that the parents could do with their child
- Advisory teachers from Inclusion support to hold a consultation with you via phone call
Please contact us if you have any enquiries about accessing any additional provision for your child or if you have any general queries about delivering home learning to your SEN child.
Please ring the school on 0121 559 1033 or email the SENCo, Jo Morgan, direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
What if I cannot afford equipment to support my child at home?
If your child has an EHC plan the Local Authority currently (1 May – 30 June 2020) needs to do whatever it reasonably can to put their provision in place.
If your child does not have an EHC plan the government guidance on preparing for wider opening from 1 June 2020 says schools should use their best endeavours to support pupils remaining at home, making use of the available remote education support. It may also be appropriate to consider making an EHC needs assessment request to secure provision called for by your child’s needs in the long term. Local Autnoritie’s are required to consider such requests at this time.
In the shorter term, if you are a low-income family and your child or young person (up to the age of 17) is “disabled or seriously ill” you may be able to access support from the Family Fund: The DfE has announced that Family Fund will receive a multi-million pound grant to assist it in providing vital equipment to make low-income families’ lives easier while implementing social distancing measure, including the families of children or young people with special educational needs and disabilities, lives easier while implementing social distancing measures. This could include computers, specialist equipment and educational toys. Families in England can find out more about this, including the eligibility criteria, and apply for grants from Family Fund directly at:
Other charitable organisations may also be able to assist.
How can I help my child cope with the changes?
We understand that this is a significant change for many families. Please try to establish a home routine and give yourself and your children time to adjust to this new routine. Do not place too much pressure on yourself or your child to complete school work. Maintaining positive mental health and emotional well-being is very important.
What plans will be made for my child to re-integrate back into school or make transition to new classes?
We know that any transitions for many of our children with SEN can be stressful and needs to be well planned, in advance, and should not be introduced abruptly. We understand that reintegration back in to school and/or transition to a new class or school is going to be made even more challenging following the current situation. Furthermore, we know that children’s reactions to returning to school will vary greatly and some children will need much more additional support.
As such, our aim will be to support transition and re-integration by working closely with you as parents/carers to help prepare your child and guide them through these transitions carefully. The usual transition booklets highlighting classes, teachers and key workers will be sent home and access to social stories preparing for school return will be available if needed. Please contact school to discuss any additional measures that may need to be put in place.
For children due to move between phases of education at the end of this academic year, Blackheath Primary School will continue to make contact with the new settings to share necessary information to make children’s transitions as smooth as possible.
Further useful information
The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) has launched two new email inboxes aimed to answer questions, collate resources and share information on Coronavirus and the impact on children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). They are designed to be used by professionals, practitioners, parent carers and families of children and young people with SEND.
The new ‘CDC questions’ inbox, CDCquestions@ncb.org.uk, provides the opportunity to ask questions about how coronavirus will impact on children and young people with SEND as well as other questions relating to the impact on families; the education, health, social care sectors; and the voluntary and community sector. The CDC will collate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and share them with the Department for Education and Ministers as appropriate, in order to publish an FAQs newsflash each Friday.
The ‘CDC resources’ inbox, CDCresources@ncb.org.uk, is designed to enable parent carers, sector professionals and practitioners to share resources, to support families of children and young people with SEND and practitioners across the disabled children’s sector. The CDC will add these resources to their COVID-19 Support and Guidance webpage:
Additionally the government has issued:
- adviceto help adults with caring responsibilities look after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people, including those with additional needs and disabilities, during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance includes contact details for a number of organisations offering advice and information.
- a list of education resources for home education during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes links to SEND and disability and mental wellbeing-specific resources.
- case studies to share examples of remote education practice for schools during coronavirus following consultation with schools and academies across England. One of them focuses on supporting the wellbeing of primary pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
This addendum to the SEN information report will be reviewed in light of new government guidance, and significant changes, as and when published.