SEND Updates - Frequently Asked Questions
Q. My child has Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND). What can I expect the school to provide during lockdown?
During this third national lockdown parents of children and young people with SEND face some challenges faced by all parents but some which pose additional ones supporting their children. Below we set out a few things that parents can expect during lockdown.
- Nationally the government has set out guidance to support schools in determining which vulnerable children and young people should be offered a place during this period. They have published guidance for parents what parents need to know about early year’s providers, schools and colleges.
- Schools have also been encouraged to offer face to face teaching for children who have Education, Health & Care Plans (EHCPs). Newham schools are offering places to children who access high needs funding but may not have EHCPs on a case by case basis.
- Early years Private, Voluntary and Independent settings (PVIs) are open for all children and not just vulnerable children as required by the government.
- All schools are required to provide a remote offer for all pupils not in school including those children who are shielding for particular medical and health related conditions
- Many parents will have had or will be having regular communication with their schools about what their children are expected to do, whether face to face or remotely, daily and weekly. School websites will alert parents to the school offer for their child including what support is in place for those with additional needs, including SEND.
- Many children with SEND will need differentiation and a greater degree of personalisation to access remote learning or have physical resources and modelling to support learning. Parents should feel confident in asking for this if their child or children are not able to engage in most of the learning offered.
- The Local Offer has additional resources and schools can access support services to support their remote learning offer. Web address: https://Families.newham.gov.uk
- Many parents will also be able to access some form of alternative support and/therapy from health professionals if they are undergoing assessment or have interventions specified in EHCPs and reports. Please contact your school SENCO to discuss.
- Those who have allocated social workers and are disabled will continue to have support from the Disabled Children’s Team
- Support services which come under the Specialist Education Support Service (i.e. Complex Needs & Dyslexia Service, Language Commination and Interaction Service, and Sensory Service) will be continuing to provide essential visits to schools and support schools with their remote learning offers especially with the children known to them.
- Regular updated videos on Newham’s Support for SEND YouTube channel are available giving useful strategies and activities for your child at home.
Q. Can I access a computer and internet access to support home learning for my child with SEND’? (I know many families will not be eligible for equipment, but it would be good to share criteria or other information in answer to parent’s questions).
The government expects that vulnerable children will attend school during this period of lockdown this will include many children with SEND. Please contact your child’s school to discuss your child’s access to education. For those children who are unable to attend school for example children who have been advised to shield the DfE has been providing laptops, tablets and where necessary support in accessing the internet. If you want to know if your child may be eligible for a computer or tablet, please talk to your child’s school; each school has a lead person who has been liaising with the DfE to get their laptop and hub allocations and that person can apply for additional laptops through the same mechanism – it has to be done on an individual basis but we know that some schools have been successful. However, there is a bit of a delay in the system so there might be a bit of a wait.
Please note that it is only schools, or trusts or LAs on behalf of their schools that can place orders. Parents, carers and pupils cannot order devices.
Q. Where can I access tuition support for my child?
Possible response - National Tutoring Programme: subsidised tutoring available
The National Tutoring Programme continues to support pupils through lockdown, with Tuition Partners offering online tutoring for disadvantaged pupils at home, as well as continuing to offer support to vulnerable pupils in schools.
Over 60,000 pupils have been enrolled so far and further places are available in all regions. Find tutoring for your school or book ahead for later in the year.
Q. Will my child’s school remain open during February half term?
No, schools close as usual during February half-term and are not expected to remain open to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers during that week.
Q. Do all children with education health and care plans need to continue to attend school?
Following the prime ministers announcement on 4th January 2021 only children and young people considered ‘vulnerable’ and children of critical workers should attend school or college. Further details of which children are defined as vulnerable can be found here.
Parents of children and young people who the government have defined as ‘vulnerable’ which includes those with an EHCP are ‘strongly encouraged’ to take up a place at school during the current restrictions. Where a parent does not want their child/ young person to attend school please speak with your child/ young person’s school. ‘If your child is not attending, their school or college will be able to put in place to keep in touch and make sure they are able to and do access remote education support. It is possible to revisit the decision not to send your child to school at any point’.
If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable they should not attend school or college, further guidance can be found here.
Q. How can I work and educate my child at the same time?
Please find information from CoursesOnline, which covers how to balance working from home whilst looking after kids. It touches on aspects such as how to plan your schedule, how to keep the kids active and engaged, and some resources which can be used to aid in their learning so that they miss out on as little as possible whilst things are still so up in the air.
Q. How can I keep my child and my family safe when they return to school?
Please find links to information about how to keep your family and yourself safe during COVID-19 below;
Social Care FAQ's
Q. Can I use my child’s direct payment to pay for an alternative service during the pandemic, if my child’s usual service is not available?
Yes you can use your direct payment for or towards the cost of another service you have identified if your usual support is not available. Please first discuss any changes you wish to make with your social worker. Any agreed alternative services would come out of your existing direct payment funding, this would not be additional funding. You would need to keep track of how you have used the money and retain all receipts or invoices
Q. I receive a direct payment through a pre-paid cards. Can I withdraw cash from a pre-paid cards?
No you cannot use you per paid care to withdraw cash. Prepaid cards were introduced to stop cash being used. Every service now accepts card payment (Uber, public transport, leisure services, online purchases, etc.) If you are paying a PA the wages must be paid through the card as a bank transfer. As the card is contactless there should be no reason to withdraw cash.
Bereavement Support FAQ's
Q. We have suffered a bereavement in the family, what support and financial assistance is available?
Bereavement is a difficult experience at any time and is made even more distressing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For local information and contact details of the support available please follow this link
You can find information of how to help your child/ren cope with grief here
The government has published a step by step guide what to do when someone dies; this guide includes information about the financial help available to pay for a funeral.
Testing and Vaccinations FAQ's
Q. When will parent/carers be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 Vaccine priority has been set out by the Joint Committee for Vaccines and immunisations -JCVI. The reasoning and priority list is found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-30-december-2020/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation-advice-on-priority-groups-for-covid-19-vaccination-30-december-2020
The first 4 Phase 1 priority groups are being vaccinated now hoping to complete by Feb 15th are:
- residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
- all those 75 years of age and over
- all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
The next 5 groups cover Clinical vulnerability and ages to 50 plus. If you fall in any of these age, occupational or clinical condition groups you will automatically be called now or over the next few weeks. In addition, JCVI has flagged that it may also advise that roles not specifically mentioned in the list but of comparable vulnerability or risk of exposure/ transmission may also be included in the top 9 priority groups. These would be: informal carers, people who are homeless, and some essential and frontline roles. In this case it is anticipated that parents of children with Special health and care needs would be have a priority as informal carers, again expected within the next 4-8 weeks.
Q. Can my child/ young person have the coronavirus vaccine?
A webinar is planned to share information on the vaccine available for children and parent /carer’s s as per Government guidance and how this will be managed in Newham. Currently this is priority group 4 and 6 which is;
- Young people aged 16-17 who have underlying health conditions
- Parent/carers of the above young people
- Children and young people aged 12-18 who are:
- Regularly in specialised residential care settings
- AND have neuro-disabilities
- AND tend to have recurrent respiratory tract infections.
- Young people aged 16-17 who work in frontline health and social care settings (or training in)
- Young people aged 16-17 who have underlying health conditions – chronic respiratory, cardiac, kidney or liver diseases, diabetes, morbid obesity, immunosuppression, asplenia or dysfunction of spleen
- Young people aged 16-17 with chronic neurological diseases – including severe/profound LD, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome
- Young people aged 16-17 with a serious mental illness (SMI) e.g. bipolar disorder
- Young carer’s aged 16+
Q. Do I need to provide consent for my child/ young person to be tested for COVID-19? If I do not consent to my child/young person being tested for Covid-19 will they be able to attend school?
In school testing is only scheduled for secondary school and parental consent is required. For children under 16 those over 16 can give their own consent.
Testing allows the young person and family to know early and quickly if there has been a COVID-19 exposure so that appropriate protective actions can be taken quickly.
Testing is not mandatory so students who do not test can still attend school.
Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) FAQ's
Q. What is happening with annual reviews for EHCPs?
Annual reviews for EHC plans is the process of looking at the needs and provision specified in an EHCP and deciding whether are still appropriate or if anything needs to change. In Newham we are committed to holding timely reviews for all children and young people with an EHCP. We recognise that not all reviews have been held within the specified timeframe and we are working to resolve this issue. If you want to find out about your child’s annual review please speak to your child’s school or contact your linked member of the SEND team.
SEND Services FAQ's
Q. How do I contact the SEND service now?
Please contact your linked officer, their email address and contact details should be on letters they have sent to you. If you don’t have a linked officer or you are unsure about their contact details please speak to your child’s school, they should be able to tell you who your linked officer is and can provide their email address.
Mental health and well-being FAQ's
Q. What can I do to support my child/ young person who is struggling with anxiety, challenging behaviour or with mental health needs?
Regular weekly/fortnightly workshops are held with young people that join the YHC programme, where we discuss various topics related to mental health, education, physical health etc . The programme is open for any young person aged 10-25 who live, study or work in Newham..
Parents can access support from several areas including:
Resources on Local Offer to download: https://families.newham.gov.uk/kb5/newham/directory/advice.page?localofferchannel=2&id=YpfOYfBKFPI
Newham SEND Support YouTube Channel:
Early Help Parental zoom sessions
Headstart parental support sessions
EPS Parent Phone in
Q. I am worried about my own mental health and well-being what support is available?
If you require urgent mental health assistance, the mental health crisis line number is: 0800 073 0066.
You can also contact your GP for further advice and support regarding your mental health.
To support family well-being during the pandemic Newham are providing a Parenting Befriending Service. This service provides;
- A bespoke parenting befriending service for parents / carers of children and young people aged 0-16 years who needs a space to talk and think through the ways that they are coping in the circumstances and practical suggestions to manage challenges such as their young person’s behaviour, anxiety and worries, family relationship challenges and a young person’s screen time.
- Befrienders are either trained children centre staff or Newham Parent Peer Facilitators
- 30 - 60 min’s session per week for 1 - 8 weeks with a clear transition process put in place for when the contact ends
- Group sessions – will be developed where this would be helpful and appropriate
- Virtual Coffee Mornings- Early Years / Primary and Secondary
- Signposting and referrals to other support and services as and when appropriate
- To refer yourself to the parenting befriending offer, email your name and contact details to: BSILFamilySupport@newham.gov.uk
Parents can also seek support from Newham Talking Therapies the service accepts self-referrals and run groups - https://newhamtalkingtherapies.nhs.uk/contact-us/ or 020 8475 8080
Health and well-being FAQ's
Q. My child/young person is aged 14+, how do I arrange for them to join the GPs Learning Disability Register and to receive an annual health check?
People aged 14+ who are on their GPs Learning Disability Register can have a free annual health check once a year. Check with your GP practice to see if you or someone you care for is on the register. For further information follow the link below.
Q. My family is experiencing financial hardship, what support may be available?
For impartial advice and information about the financial help and support available in Newham please see https://www.ournewhammoney.co.uk/
Short Break FAQ's
Q. What short breaks will be available during the Easter holidays?
A short break offer is in place for Easter, please see further details below. Please note that the services below offer families one day of respite per family.
Fairplay House, please note the following:
There is no charge to attend this service
For more information about Fairplay House, please visit www.fairplayhouse.org
To book please follow this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/easter-family-activity-days-tickets-145291586045
Who is the Service For?
It is for families of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) living in Newham. The service is available for children and young people from the ages of 0 – 25 and their families, however not all activities are suitable for younger children. Activities will be designed to meet the individual needs of families on the day.
This service has very limited capacity, therefore it is for families that were not able to attend Fairplay House in the October 2020 half term, and for families that do not receive any other form of additional support during the Easter break.
Given the need for social distancing, numbers are very limited, therefore it is available on a first come-first served basis and families will be able to book for one day only during the Easter break to ensure as many families as possible get the opportunity to attend.
Free minibus transport is available for families that do not have access to their own transport. The Newham Transport Service will pick families up in the morning and drop them off at their homes at the end of the day. More details will be provided when bookings are confirmed by Fairplay House.
Free parking is available if families wish to travel by car.
Short Breaks at Arc in the Park – Easter Weekend
What is Available?
LBN have teamed up with Ambition, Aspire, Achieve to offer families most in need of a short break, the opportunity to attend Arc in the Park. A family group from the same household will be able to attend a 2-hour session between Friday 2nd and Monday 5th April. There will be three sessions on each of the four days.
Arc in the Park is a self-contained and fully fenced indoor/outdoor activity centre based in Hermit Road Recreation Ground, Terence Brown Arc, Hermit Road Park, Bethell Avenue, and E16 4JT. Families will need to enter the Arc via the pedestrian gate next to the fenced games area.
Three sessions are available each day at the following times:
10:00 – 12:00
12:30 – 14:30
15:00 – 17:00
The service is available to families at no cost, on a first come-first served basis. Families wishing to access the service can do so by contacting Arc in the Park directly on the phone number below:
To book a space Call Arc in the Park on - 020 7511 4253
Who is the Service For?
It is for families of a child or children with SEND that do not have access to an outdoor space at this time. Some families of children with SEND have told the Council they are struggling to keep their children occupied during the lockdown period. This is particularly challenging because many community-based and outdoor activities are currently unavailable.
We recognise that not all families will want to access this service, but it is available to those families who are most concerned about the effect the lockdown is having on them during this challenging time. Given the need for social distancing, numbers are very limited; therefore, it is available on a first come-first served basis. Bookings will be managed by staff at Arc in the Park.
- giant Connect 4
- mini trampolines
- table tennis
- variety of bats and balls
- skipping ropes
- den building materials
- large climbing frame
- Multi-use games area
- Easter Egg Hunt
- stickle bricks
- cars and roadway mat
- wooden train set
- various musical instruments
- floor keyboard
- basic arts/crafts materials
- table football.
- Easter based craft session (decorating eggs, making an Easter chick)
Families will need to bring refreshments with them, as no food or drinks are available for purchase on-site.
Families are responsible for their own transport arrangements and there is free parking available nearby at the weekend if families wish to travel by car.
Health and Safety
Whilst we cannot fully remove the risk, we have taken the following steps to minimise the risk as far as is reasonably possible:
- All reachable surfaces at Arc in the Park are professionally disinfected in the morning.
- The appearance of symptoms is observed at all times.
- Hand washing facilities are available.
- PPE is available for on-site staff as required and appropriate
- Disinfectant spray and tissues are available for families to use on equipment at Arc in the Park
Additionally, we do a final check on Covid-19 symptoms and take temperatures on arrival - using a non-evasive distance thermometer.
Over and above the measures described above, the family remain fully responsible for the child/children in their care and any risk of infection whilst on-site.
To book a space Call Arc in the Park on - 020 7511 4253
Regarding Summer – we are working on a much wider offer that we hope will include opportunities with various ActiveNewham facilities. We are working with specialist training partners to upskill the coaches at ActiveNewham in order to provider parents the confidence they need in allowing their children to attend. More information to follow as the details are finalised.