Shropshire Council

SEND Update - September 2020

10 September 2020 Last updated at 10:56

Important SEND Information

We recently published the open letter from Vicky Ford MP, the Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, to children and young people with special education needs (SEND), their families and carers and those who work to support them.  

The letter outlines expectations with regard to the return to school/college in respect of children and young people with SEND. The letter acknowledges that for many children and their families the return to school will present difficulties however for those with SEND the return to school is likely to be even more challenging as children and young people will be coping with heightened levels of anxiety as well as significant gaps in learning and limited access to other support services and therapies which they may rely on. However, the expectation is that all children will return to school at the start of the Autumn term and the letter contains advice and links to further information to support this. The letter also contains important information relating to aerosol generating procedures.  Shropshire Community Trust will provide the relevant training and advice to schools on this procedure.

School's have been asked to share Vicky Ford’s letter with parents of children with SEN and also ensure that the content of the letter is shared with all staff. It is important that leaders review policies, protocols and procedures, as appropriate, to support a positive and safe return to school for children with SEND.  If you have any concerns with regard to ensuring the safety of children and young people with SEN or providing them with appropriate learning opportunities please raise these with your school leadership.

Changes to SEND legislation

You may be aware that in May the government made 2 temporary amendments to the legislation relating to SEND that made provision for:

  1. The relaxation of the requirement to put in place the provision as detailed in the EHCP and to replace this with the requirement for the LA to work with education settings and other providers to use their ‘best endeavours’.
  2. The relaxation of the 20 week timescale in respect of EHC needs assessments.

These temporary changes will not be extended and this means that from the start of the Autumn term schools/colleges must co-operate with the LA to ensure that provision within the EHCP is put in place and that other professionals are supported to work with children where this is a provision identified within the EHCP. From the 25 September LAs will be expected to complete EHC needs assessments within 20 weeks unless ordinary exemptions (pre-covid) apply.

Visiting professionals

Shropshire Council is expecting practitioners to resume face to face work with children and young people. 

Some practitioners may change the way that they work to support remote or blended working, that is continuing to offer support via online platforms. If this is the case this will be because experience from the last 6 months has demonstrated that a different approach may be more appropriate in some circumstances. The service should discuss any new ways of working and the reasons behind this with schools and families.

Visiting health professionals will be taking appropriate precautions to minimise the spread of Covid in accordance with guidance issued by the Department of Health. This may mean that they will be wearing specific PPE or requesting that adaptations are in place for them to undertake close work with children/young people where this work is on an ongoing or regular basis.  Where this is the case further information will be provided by the relevant service.

Risk assessments, prolonged absence and support to return to school

Where vulnerable children (this includes those with an EHCP and those with a social worker or others that are deemed vulnerable according to a schools own risk assessment process) do not return to school as expected schools will be required to work with the family to support a positive return to school. Schools should ensure that the Education Access Team is informed of any such absence and that an individual risk assessment is put in place in partnership with other professionals that may be involved and in collaboration with parents. The risk assessment should include a plan to support individual children to return to school as soon as possible. 

The Local Offer

The local offer continues to be updated regularly with information and advice for parents carers children and young people, please continue to signpost as appropriate.

Julia Dean 
SEND Service Manager, SEN Team, Shropshire Council