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School reopening: guidance for special schools and SENCOs
Get the latest advice and official guidance on supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) during the autumn term.
If we haven't covered something below, you may find it in our summary of what's changing in autumn.
Help pupils adjust to school life
Many pupils will have found lockdown very difficult, both socially and emotionally. Be mindful that you might need to offer additional support to help address any challenging behaviours or social and emotional struggles pupils may be facing.
Resources to help you:
- Our article on how to support pupils with SEND to transition back to school and adjust to new routines
- From the Whole School SEND Gateway:
- Review your approach to SEND during COVID-19 and take forward lessons learned (pages 6 and 7 of the 'COVID-19 SEND Review Guide')
- Develop an individual support plan (page 25 of the 'Recovery, Re-introduction and Renewal' resource)
- Share the 'Back to School' resources from The Salvesen Mindroom Centre with parents and carers to help ease this transition for pupils with learning difficulties
Some pupils may need to remain at home
This will be the case if they're complying with clinical and/or public health advice given to them.
If so, continue to take into account whether parents/carers have the support needed to care for the pupil at home, such as:
- Whether the parents/carers have access to:
- Respite care (short breaks)
- Support from extended family members
- The health risks to the parent/carer providing full-time care for a child with complex needs
Use your risk assessments to support pupils in autumn
The risk assessments you carried out for pupils with EHC plans during lockdown will still be useful during the autumn term to support pupils:
- Who may need to self-isolate
- If a local coronavirus outbreak means that your school needs to close or have limited attendance
You and your local authority (LA) should decide on a case-by-case basis who will carry out or update the risk assessment.
LAs must secure support in an EHC plan from 25 September
Before this date, local authorities were required to use their ‘reasonable endeavours’ to provide the support outlined in an EHC plan.
From 25 September, local authorities must fulfil their normal requirements, as noted in the full opening guidance for special schools.
Extend EHC plans only in exceptional cases
The DfE doesn't think it'll be necessary for pupils (including pupils with EHC plans) to repeat a school year because of coronavirus (see the section 'Extending provision set out in an EHC plan' here).
But in small number of cases it might make sense for pupils to have their EHC plan extended - this would consist of an individualised programme for a term or half term.
It's up to the LA to decide whether to extend a pupil's EHC plan, following an assessment of their needs and their EHC plan.
Ofsted visits will look at support for pupils with SEND
Ofsted will be carrying out non-judgmental 'visits' during the autumn term, rather than inspections.
During these visits, inspectors will be looking to understand:
- How are you supporting pupils with different needs or characteristics?
- How have you involved parents, carers or other professionals and specialist services to identify how best to support pupils with SEND?
Find out what else they'll focus on in our article on Ofsted visits in autumn 2020.
Remote learning resources for pupils with SEND
The full opening guidance for special schools explains that Oak National Academy will provide specialist content for pupils with SEND.
These are also still available:
- Coronavirus educational resources from The Sensory Projects
- SEND-specific resources for learning from home from Tech Ability
The DfE linked to the resources above in its now-withdrawn guidance but you may still find them useful.
Guidance on autumn assessments
Read this article for an overview of how pupils can retake VTQs in the autumn term.
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