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updated on 9 July 2020
Ref: 40117
School types: All · School phases: All

Get the latest advice and official guidance on supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as you prepare to welcome all pupils back to school in September.

9 July 2020:  we've updated this article to reflect that the government expects schools to reopen for all pupils in September

Read our summary of the Department for Education (DfE) guidance for the full reopening of schools - it also applies to special schools.  

Use your risk assessments to support pupils' return in September

The risk assessments you carried out for pupils with EHC plans during lockdown are still useful now and will still be useful in the autumn term when you welcome all pupils back to school.

You can use these risk assessments 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 whether risk assessments are still useful for each pupil after they return. 

Help pupils transition back to school

Pupils with education, health and care (EHC) plans: reach out to parents 

When preparing to welcome back pupils with EHC plans, you should involve the parents (and the pupil, if they are over 16) in the planning.

This might involve:

  • Parents and pupils visiting the school 
  • Social stories 
  • Anything else your school normally has in place to help pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who've been out of school make a full and successful return 

Help pupils adjust 

Many pupils will have found lockdown very difficult, both socially and emotionally. Be mindful that you might need to offer additional support and phased returns to help address any challenging behaviours or social and emotional struggles pupils may be facing. 

See guidance in our article on how to support pupils with SEND to transition back to school and adjust to new routines. 

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 this is the case, 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 

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 on '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 plans.

Remote learning resources for pupils with SEND 

The DfE has:

  • A list of online resources for parents and teachers
  • Guidance to help pupils with SEND learn from home 

Guidance on qualifications 

Read this article for an overview of Ofqual's proposed approach to awarding BTECs and other vocational and technical qualifications this summer.

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