- Restricting attendance during the national lockdown: schools
Updates for the current lockdown – January 2021
It is important to note that SEN legislation requirements have remained unchanged during this time, unlike the last lockdown. Children and young people with EHC Plans are expected to be in school unless parents request and it is agreed that they are not, and in those cases ‘reasonable endeavours’ must be employed to ensure provision in EHCPs continues to be delivered for these children. Legislation in relation to statutory timescales for EHC needs assessment remains unaltered.
Statutory EHC Needs Assessments and delivery of provision in EHC Plans
SEN Legislation remains unchanged for this lockdown. It is emphasised in the government guidance, and further highlighted in the briefing presentation attached from the DfE that children with EHCPs need to be either in school or with appropriate provision in place, in agreement with families. This is echoed by the support / provision from specialist teachers and educational psychologists directly with children and young people being directly delivered for those children in school and ‘reasonable endeavours’ employed for those that aren’t. Our training offer, network sessions for SENCos and accessibility of staff remains in place during this lockdown.
“Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual.”
Support for remote learning for children with particular needs can also be accessed on schoolsweb under our ‘Help with Home Learning’ which can be found here:
Supporting children with SEND
“For pupils with SEND, their teachers are best-placed to know how the pupil’s needs can be most effectively met to ensure they continue to make progress even if they are not able to be in school due to self-isolating. The requirement for schools to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision called for by the pupils’ special educational needs remains in place.
Schools should work collaboratively with families, putting in place reasonable adjustments as necessary, so that pupils with SEND can successfully access remote education alongside their peers.
Where a pupil has provision specified within their EHC plan, it remains the duty of the local authority and any health bodies to secure or arrange the delivery of this in the setting that the plan names. However, there may be times when it becomes very difficult to do so, for example, if they are self-isolating. In this situation, decisions on how provision can be delivered should be informed by relevant considerations including, for example, the types of services that the pupil can access remotely, for example, online teaching and remote sessions with different types of therapists. These decisions should be considered on a case by case basis, avoiding a one size fits all approach.”
It is really important that specific consideration is given to the provision being made available for children and young people with EHC Plans, as well as those in receipt of SEND Support, to ensure that work is appropriately differentiated and provision in EHC Plans delivered wherever possible, following the government guidance as highlighted above. We must do all we can to ensure our children and young people are not disadvantaged by the current lockdown.
Special Schools and Alternative Provision
“We want CYP in special schools, including residential special schools, and special post-16 institutions to continue to receive high-quality teaching and specialist professional support. This is because we know that CYP with SEND, and their families, can be disproportionately impacted by being out of education.
Special schools should continue to welcome and encourage pupils to attend full-time where the parent/carer wishes for their child to be able to attend. Special post-16 settings should continue to welcome and encourage students to attend as per their usual timetable where the YP wishes to attend.
On occasion special schools may encounter circumstances where they cannot provide their usual interventions and provision at adequate staffing ratios, or with staff with vital specialist training. In these circumstances they should seek to resume as close as possible to the child of young person’s specified provision as soon as possible. Pupil level risk assessments, which were used last spring, should not be used to filter CYP in or out of attendance, but could be helpful to prioritise the provision a CYP can get if full time provision for all is not possible.”
Weekly meetings are currently in place with our special schools to enable provision to be provided through adequate staffing ratios where possible, utilising reasonable endeavours and creative options to deliver provision in EHCPs.
Please find below a presentation that we hope you will find useful when planning for the return for children and young people with SEND in your schools. This information is closely linked to the published guidance as well as to specific advice from the DfE.
The topics covered include:
- full return - The key messages
- guidance for reopening of schools
- teaching, curriculum delivery and behaviour
- risk assessments and those that are vulnerable
- early years
- further education
- temporary legislative changes
- key government guidance documents
For all children and young people, the return to school could potentially be a daunting one and preparation will be key. However, for children and young people with SEN, particularly those who have not had their provision in their EHCPs delivered in the way they are usually used to, this could be even more significant. It is critical that the advice in this presentation is noted and followed. For specific support with transition, I reference the transitions document already developed by the Educational Psychology team during the pandemic, which provides specific guidance to aid you during this time:
- COVID-19 Transition Support | SchoolsWeb
- Transition and the return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic- Educational Psychology Team
In addition, also attached above is a guidance document focused specifically on transition support for children and young people with SEND, which has been co-produced across services related to SEND.
Send legislative changes - expiry of s42 modification notice
Section 42 of the Children and Families Act relates to the help for Children and Young People set out in Section F of their EHC Plans. For those in Bucks, the Act places on Buckinghamshire Council and Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group an absolute duty to provide the help as set out in that Section. This means that help described in Section F must be provided, and if it is not, this law can be used to ensure it is provided.
From 1st May until 3rd August, the Section 42 duty had been altered to reflect the reality of measures required to keep young people, their families and staff saf. This meant that there was no absolute duty to provide the help in Section F. Instead, education providers under the direction of Buckinghamshire Council, had to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to provide the help. ‘Reasonable endeavours’ meant they had to do what they reasonably could do to provide the help – it might not be possible to provide it exactly as written in Section F. For example, specialist teachers had been delivering Braille teaching through online means, and schools were sending specific work home for completion.
This notice modifying the duty on local authorities to secure or arrange the special educational and health care provision specified in children and young people’s EHC plans expired on 3rd August 2020. This followed the Secretary of State’s announcement on 2nd July that, unless the evidence changes, they will not be issuing further national notices to modify this duty. Government focus will increasingly be on supporting local authorities, health commissioning bodies and education settings as they work towards full provision being restored for all children and young people with EHC plans
Some changes made during the period 1st May until 3rd August using inventive and creative uses of technology and staff resources, may continue, if they provide a better way of delivering provision in EHCPs. However, it is now the case that delivery of the provision is a statutory duty, and the use of reasonable endeavours to do this is no longer an option. This is in line with children and young people making a full return to school in September which is the expectation nationally and in Buckinghamshire.