COVID 19 Updates

COVID 19 Updates

NHS - A Special COVID-19 Message for Parents

Returning to School - Guide for Families

29th April - Parents / Carers

With reference to the current concerns regarding Covid-19 and the impact on education settings and our colleagues in health and social care Services, I am writing to provide an update on our SEND Services given the current concerns regards Covid-19 and the impact on education settings and health and social care provision.

Whilst the guidance is that the education settings will continue to provide learning for children and young people with EHC plans and High Needs Funding in Newham, there is still an impact on statutory processes due to restrictions imposed on all services.

The SEND team members are all working remotely and are continuing to support the education settings, parents and carers, as well as the professionals supporting children and young people.

The current restrictions though mean that we are unable to carry out face to face meetings for assessments, advice for education, health and care assessments or annual reviews of education, health and care plans.

To ensure continuity we are introducing a range of virtual methods to carry out discussions and meetings including teleconferencing, Skype and emails as well as using the most recent information and reports to aid decision making.

During this time the SEN teams and your allocated SEN Officers continue to work remotely and can be contacted to provide support and advice. You can also email us at

Please be assured that we will continue to progress cases and support to the best of our ability. These are clearly unprecedented times and your patience and understanding is appreciated.

Yours faithfully

Simon Mckenzie
Interim Head of Service
Special Educational Needs and Disability

3rd April - Parents / Carers

Dear Parent Carers – 3rd April 2020

Please find enclosed an update.


The number of schools open this week has increased with only 9 schools closed on Wednesday. The majority of resource provisions are open and our special schools are both open, albeit JFK for a limited number of pupils. The take up of school places has increased as the week has progressed.

As a Council we are working to increase the availability of places anticipating an increase in the number of parents wishing to send their children with Education, Health and Care Plans and/ or High Needs funding to school after Easter.

Deciding whether to send your child to school is  hard with the need to balance the potential risk of infection against the inevitable increasing pressure of having children at home 24/7. There is no clear answer to this question and depends on individual circumstances. Schools and professionals involved with families, I am sure, will be happy to talk this through and in certain circumstances there is an obvious need for a child to come to school. However, for many I can understand how difficult this decision will be.

For those families wishing their child, where eligible, to return to school, can I ask that you please contact your school in advance so they are able to plan. It is worth noting many schools are not able to offer a full week with some schools only able to offer a couple of days per week due to their staffing capacity.

If your school is unable to provide for your child with High Needs funding please contact your SEN Officer or email so we can see how we can support the respective school.

 Care support

As mentioned last week we are monitoring the level of agency support available to identify any capacity. For those families with direct payments or care packages your social worker will be happy to look flexibly at how we support you where there are issues, such as carers not being able to attend. This will vary from family to family and any change will need to have a clear purpose and reason to support the respective family.

Distribution Hubs - #HelpNewham

The distribution hubs have now started. Their initial focus has been on the elderly, but there should be the capacity next week to be more broadly available to children and their families in need. Further details can be found on

For those families with a child receiving high needs funding you should, over the next week or so, receive a call from someone in my service to check how things are. This will be part of the #HelpNewham initiative to support local residents. If you have a social worker they will have been in touch already and this will continue over the following weeks.

Local Offer

We are continuing to update the Local Offer with key documents and this complements the Council’s website.

Recent updates include details of service changes such as in CAMHS and SENDIASS, key contact numbers and government advice and guidance. So please do take the time to look.

Council Services

Whilst the way the Council operates has changed significantly in recent weeks, key services are all still in operation. The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (front door to children’s services), the out of hours Emergency Duty Team, my SEND service and other services are available and can be contacted as usual.

Within my SEND service the Travel Assistance Team and Disabled Children and Young People’s Service continue to have workers based in their respective offices.

Disabled Children and Young People’s Service

The service can be contacted on their usual emails and on 0203 373 3280. This number is also being used to pass messages to staff in other areas of my service. However, wherever possible please contact staff on their email and they will contact you back.

School Transport

Tel: 0203 373 3325

SEN Team

The team can be contacted on their usual telephone and email numbers or by emailing:


We are continuing to speak with parent representatives from Let US Communicate and Newham Parent Forum. This is helping in identifying issues and health representatives are now joining this teleconference once a week.

Planning Ahead

As well as responding to many issues this week we have been focussing on planning for the next few months looking at ways we can support schools and ensuring care support is available

I wish you all the best this weekend.

With best regards

Simon McKenzie

Head of Service

Special Educational Needs and Disability

25th March - Parents / Carers

Dear Parent Carers - 25th March 2020

In this ever changing situation providing an update is challenging. I will endeavour to be in contact as often as possible.

We have now in place conference calls with Newham Parents Forum and LetUsCommunicate parents group twice a week to gather parent care views and provide updates.

Office Arrangements
As of 25th March 2020 only essential staff will be based in the office – that is the Travel Assistance Team and Disabled Children and Young People’s Team.

All other staff will be based at home but available by their work emails or work mobiles. We will put these details on the Local Offer


SEND 0-25 Service Number
We have set a SEND 0-25 Service contact number (0203 373 3280) where families can ring in. Staff answering will take a message and then pass on to the relevant member of staff within my service or signpost to other services.

Wherever possible please contact staff by email and they will get back to you.

SEN Team
The team can be contacted on their usual telephone and email numbers or by emailing:

School Transport
Tel: 0203 373 3325


Wherever possible we are supporting schools to keep open. Both JFK and EKO Pathways, our Special Schools are open today. We are in contact with schools regularly to see how we can support them.

If you want your child to attend school please liaise with your school to see what arrangements are in place.


We are working closely with care agencies to maintain the support they are providing. For those families with direct payments or care packages please talk to your social workers if there are issues and we will be happy to look flexibly at how we support you where there are issues such as carers not being able to attend.


As indicated we are in contact with Let Us Communicate and Newham Forum twice a week and there are regular conference calls with health and head teachers to adapt to the changing situation.


We are aware that some families are struggling with regards accessing certain items. Corporately the Council is putting in place distribution hubs and more information can be found on the Council website

I wish you all the best.

Simon McKenzie
Head of Service
Special Educational Needs and Disability

20th March - Parents / Carers

Dear Parent/Carers,

Please find below the latest update for your information.


You will be aware that on Wednesday evening the Government announced the decision to keep schools open for key groups. This presents a significant challenge for schools in relation to school staff capacity issues.

Schools have been or are in the process of contacting parents to identify which children will be attending school.

In terms of putting this in place there are many issues to consider as it is not just about staff numbers, but also about having the right skilled staff, especially for your children with special educational needs and disability.

Schools will be in touch with parents to provide further details today and at the start of next week.

Care Support

We have contacted the majority of care support agencies over the last 24 hours to check that they are able to meet their commitments. We will need to continue to monitor the position closely and assess the impact following schools closing next week for the majority of children.


We continue to work closely with health, especially in relation to children with complex health needs to try and pre-empt any issues.

SEN Team

The team can be contacted on their usual telephone and email numbers or by emailing:

School Transport

Tel: 0203 373 3325

Social Care and Disabled Children and Young People’s Team

Social Care will continue to operate and can be contacted on their usual numbers and by email.


I will provide a further update on Monday. I wish you all the best for the weekend.

With best wishes


Simon McKenzie

Head of Service

Special Educational Needs and Disability

19th March - Parents / Carers

Dear Parent / Carers

Please accept my apologies for the delay in emailing you. As I am sure you are aware this is a rapidly changing situation making it difficult to be up to date. My intention is to send an email to Newham Parent Forum, Let Us Communicate Parent Group and put this update on the Local Offer every day by midday (Monday to Saturday).


As you will have heard and seen yesterday the government announced the closure of schools with some exceptions most notably for us those children with an Education, Health and Care Plans or open to a social worker. Details of this will be worked on over the next two days and we have a conference call with the Chair of Primary and Secondary Headteachers this afternoon to discuss further.

Within our schools over the last week unfortunately a couple of resource provisions have closed due to staffing capacity. We anticipate this will continue to be an issue next week and are working to find a solution to enable as many pupils in this categories announced by the Government yesterday to access education if they wish.

Free School Meals

We have been working with parents over the last week or so pre-empting the closure of schools to identify ways we can continue to provide free school meals. Further details will be provided in the next day or so.

SEN Team

With the direction from the Government with regards social distancing and self-isolation, a number of the team will be working from home. We will continue to have a core team in the office. The team can be contacted on their usual telephone and email numbers or by emailing:

School Transport

Within this service with a number of staff needing to self-isolate due to existing medical conditions this has been a challenging week. The Transport team will be looking at how to provide a continuing service from next week. We will endeavour to transport as many pupils as we can. For those eligible to attend school it will help us greatly if you can advise us if you are not intending to send your child to school.

Tel: 0203 373 3325

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