- The Department for Education have published their response to the Education Select Committee’s SEND report, which was published on 23 October 2019. VIEW HERE. This report is therefore long-awaited. However, COVID-19 has had an impact on the response, along with many other matters, and therefore a further response is planned for later in the year. Overall, the report fails to address many of the issues raised by the Committee. The government are trying to argue that there is a robust statutory framework in place, which is true, but the difficulty is the persistent failure at every angle to adhere to these laws. The lack of funding is a further problem. We hope that the further response, due to be published later in the year, has a more detailed response to the problems raised by the Committee.
- Government guidance in relation to risk assessments and return to school has been updated. It includes balancing the risk posed from coronavirus, and the risk to parents and wider family members in relation to any behaviours, as well as access to respite (or the lack of it, as the case may be!). The guidance suggests that if children’s needs are going to be more safely met at home, equipment should be brought into the home. Importantly, the government guidance states that in-person services can be delivered from the home, where necessary. Therefore, it is entirely possible for children with SEND who are staying at home in September to have services (including therapies) delivered both online and in person, if that is what would be most suitable.
- If you have a SEND Tribunal coming up, keep an eye out on this page https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation for updates. Most SEND Tribunals have successfully been running virtually over the pandemic. If you do have an attended hearing coming up, remember that masks are being encouraged where possible, and cafes and water fountains are closed so make sure you take your own bottle of water (in a plastic bottle, not glass).
- Vicky Ford (the Minister for Children and Families) and Helen Whatley (the Care Minister) have written an open letter this week to children with SEND and their families VIEW HERE. It emphasises the importance for face to face education for as many children as possible, and the low risk that COVID-19 poses to children. Testing will be available across all schools for anyone that develops symptoms, and there are no current plans to modify the SEND legislation any further to weaken the rights in relation to s42 Children and Families Act 2014 which we have previously blogged about HERE. Guidance is also shortly due in relation to transport – watch this space.
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