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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Q. What can I do to support my child/ young person who is struggling with anxiety, challenging behaviour or with mental health needs?
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. 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.