- We wrote last week that a Notice had not been issued to modify the EHC duties. Almost immediately after our post went up, the Notice was issued and is therefore in force for July. This relates only to duties under s42 CFA 2014 (the duty to provide the provision in the Plan) and NOT to timescales, which continue to be relaxed until September under a separate piece of law
- In better news, the government have confirmed in (yet more) newly released guidance, that they are not planning to issue any further national Notices, although may issue more local ones if local lockdowns (such as the one currently in place in Leicester) come into force. The guidance can be seen here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings#temporary-changes-to-send-legislation
- The Education Committee has been hearing evidence from families and professionals about the impact that the school closures have had on children with SEND, with the overwhelming message being one of abandonment. There is a news article here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-53248609. We have certainly noticed a trend in press releases and government statements that do not appear to include disabled children in the planning process, which is concerning, not least they have missed out on so much provision during lockdown. All witnesses at the Committee agreed that there needs to be specific catch-up plans for SEND children, and an acknowledgement that school refusals and behavioural issues should not be treated as disciplinary matters, if these are a manifestation of need exacerbated by the trauma that lockdown will inevitably have caused.
- The Labour Party have appointed a new shadow education secretary, Kate Green, replacing Rebecca Long-Bailey. She hope that she will be a robust voice of opposition if the government continues to ignore the plight of children with SEND in our education system.
- The latest school census statistics have been released and can be seen here https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/special-educational-needs-in-england. Note that the census was undertaken in January 2020 (before most of us had ever heard of COVID-19!) so don’t take the lockdown into account. They show that 3.3% of children at school have EHC Plans, and a further 12.1% have SEN support (both showing slight increases from last year). 15% of all pupils have some form of SEND and yet the education of disabled children rarely factors into discourse about education – this needs to change.
- The Keep Safe website have been uploading easy to read posters throughout the pandemic. They have really useful cards available to download here - https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e74a4169b3712658a63f54f/t/5eeb87d9e8f478511e292ab8/1592494047048/Mask-Exemption-Cards-V2.pdf if you have concerns about travelling on public transport with your child, who might be exempt from wearing a face mask.
- Some concerning news from Norfolk this week – the Ombudsman again criticised the way in which Norfolk County Council discharged its SEND duties; to the same boy! This time it was to do with the failures of the Council to provide suitable education while “Y” was out of school. As well as the usual remedies the Ombudsman has recommended, they have also asked for more transparency from Norfolk by requiring it to report to its own Councillors regularly about performance updates. See the report here https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2020/jul/norfolk-council-agrees-to-rigorous-scrutiny-of-services-for-children-with-special-educational-needs
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