COVID-19 Updated Advice
These are difficult times for everyone, especially so for those families with children with SEND. There are different arrangements in place for the education and other provision for these children and young people.
The Government published guidance about supporting vulnerable children on 22 March. It included a number of frequently asked questions.
On 24 March a letter from the Minister with responsibility for SEND was issued. This highlighted the Guidance but also explained that the Coronavirus Act 2020 included temporary emergency powers to enable the Government, where appropriate and proportionate, to disapply or modify legal requirements under the Children and Families Act 2014
Schools, and all childcare providers, are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response
While it is expected that as many schools as possible should try to stay open for eligible pupils, this will not be possible for all settings, and the local authority should oversee arrangements so that pupils are able to access provision elsewhere.
Vulnerable children and young people are defined as those who:
- have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked after child
- have an EHCP and whose needs cannot be met safely in the home environment
- have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities, and who are therefore in need of continued education provision
Risk assessments should consider which children and young people with EHC plans may benefit more from remaining at school or college than at home.
Some children and young people with EHC plans can safely be supported at home. This could be for various reasons, including because:
- they do not need irreplaceable care or health provision
- the services they most need can be moved from their educational setting into their home
- their parents can meet their needs full-time
- they are able to follow hygiene and social distancing practices at home
- due to their health vulnerabilities, they are safer in the more stringent social distancing environment of their home
In Birmingham there are over 9000 pupils and students with EHCPs, and there are a wide range of needs and family circumstances. Not all families will want their children to attend an educational placement at this time, and schools and colleges will obviously be affected by a number of factors.
If you have concerns about your child’s educational placement at this time you can contact the school directly or ask SENDIASS to make enquiries.
There is a Department for Education (DfE) Coronavirus Helpline, offering guidance for anyone with education related questions. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).
These resources provide guidance for parents and carers to keep children safe online. They will, amongst other things, support you to talk to your child about a range of online safety issues, set up home filtering in a child-friendly way and set up age-appropriate parental controls on digital devices.
There has been a recent amendment to the guidance on outdoor activities and social distancing. The Government guidance now states:
“If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can do so. This could, for example, include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day – ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.”