During these unprecedented times there have been many changes made to the way we go about our lives. We have collected a lot of this information in one place as an easy go-to for you.
This section has information and advice, as well as things for you to do with your family. We will be adding to it as and when we recieve or find any new information.
Guidance for special schools, specialist post-16 providers and alternative provision during the national lockdown January 2021
New guidance has been issued for full oopening of special schools and specialist settings. You can read the advice by downloading it from the download section on the right.
The beginning of term is always an exciting time for all children and young people although it can also bring anxieties about new schools, classes, friends, and routines. This can be especially relevant to children and young people with SEND and particularly this year, given we remain in a pandemic situation.
As all children and young people are individual, we appreciate that some will have found the recent period of change particularly difficult and others will have embraced new ways of learning. Equally, we recognise the impact the pandemic has had, and continues to have, on families and home life.
The whole of the children and young people’s sector, including early years, schools, colleges, health, and social care services, has had to adapt and respond to the pandemic. Over the last months, there has been a great deal of learning, as reflected in evolving delivery models for all services involved in supporting children and young people and their families.
Despite the difficulties, there have also been opportunities to re-evaluate what is important and how traditional ways of working can be adapted to meet the needs of children and young people in the current situation and in future.
As we are now entering a new period of schools and education settings re-opening, including working within a huge amount of rapidly changing Government guidance, the links below are particularly important for further advice and information.
For any specific information related to individual early years, school and college settings the best source of information will be their own websites. Many settings have also created Twitter and Facebook pages to give parents and carers the most up to date and accurate information too. Please access these pages (if they are available) as many schools and settings use alternative methods to provide information. On visiting some of these, it is clear there has been an enormous amount of planning for recovery, re-connection and safety as the re-opening of schools, colleges and early years settings begins. Much of this has taken place within the summer holidays and continues at pace.
We would like our colleagues in education settings to know that their contribution has been valued and appreciated and we recognise the work that this has entailed to ensure a smooth and safe transition back into education for the September start.
We would also like to thank children, young people and parents/carers for their continued efforts to access education, remain connected to their schools and education settings and for the way they have risen to the challenges of the last six months. We hope you have a successful and smooth return to education.
Useful links about schools and education settings re-opening
- You can Download: the open letter from Vicky Ford, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, to children and young people with special educational needs (SEND), their families and carers and those who work to support them. It is available in the downloads section of the page on the right.
- The letter provides advice and guidance on several issues, including behaviour, risk assessments, face coverings, specialist and visiting practitioners, mental health and wellbeing, aerosol generating procedures and hospital schools, as well as linking to some of the support available to help.
- Guidance: full re-opening of schools: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools
- Guidance: what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak?utm_source=f6ae3d26-3711-472c-b09f-9186e2b018de&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily
SEND Strategy & Service Manager
Barnsley Education Inclusion Services
The following links will be of particular interest for the families of children with SEND:
• The Department for Education has a Coronavirus helpline for education and children's social care related queries, which is available to anyone working in the sector, as well as parents. Their number is 0800 046 8687, there are advisers responding to questions between 8am-6pm Monday-Friday, and 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
• Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable can be found here:
and here is the link for special schools:
. • Frequently asked questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here:
• Public Health England (PHE) has published easy-read guidance on how to keep yourself safe during the pandemic. A copy of their guidance can be found here:
Other support includes:
• The charity Contact provide information and advice for families of disabled children, with support available via their Freephone Helpline (0800 808 3555) and website:
• The Information Advice and Support Services Network can provide further help:
Press release 19/05/20
£37 million to support children with complex needs
The multi-million-pound settlement will help low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with the cost of equipment, goods or services, read the full press release by clicking here
How to stay fit at home.
Click the following link to visit the Change for Life website for lots of information and tips on how to stay healthy https://www.nhs.uk/change4life?fbclid=IwAR2ZKlqb5PhHnrEnrtEKt8gQ--3TqCEyPZOP84NUKtUn2JrXHbDQRBypAD8
Some families may find this useful if you do need to visit hospital - important new clinical guidance for frontline staff has been published in relation to dealing with coronavirus in autistic people and people with learning disabilitiesl
How to use the Government WhatsApp chat bot
The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service is an automated ‘chatbot’ service which will allow the British public to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus direct from government.
The service will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth busting.
The service will also allow the government to send messages to all opted-in users if required.
To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.
A set of menu options is then presented which the user can choose from and then be sent relevant guidance from GOV.UK pages as well as links to GOV.UK for further information.
BMBC have provided advice and important information including emergency contacts here.
You will find information on how to protect yourself, health and well being, disruption to services, finance and housing, schools and travel.
There are many sites offering explanations of the virus In this section we focus on how to explain it to children or adults, in an easy accesible way. For a more detailed description try the WHO site.
Save the Children description and advice on explaining it.
Child mind site includes a video to help.
YouTube has many great videos to help describe and advise about Corona Virus. Just be aware that sites like youtube need careful scrutiny to make sure content is suitable.
The Special needs Jungle have lots of useful information here are some documents you may find useful :
IPSEA also have lots of information you may find the following document useful:
'Local authorities are asked to work with educational providers, families and the child or young person to carry out a risk assessment to judge whether the child or young person’s needs cannot be met safely at home.
Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be as safe or safer at an educational setting, it may be more appropriate for them to attend the educational setting.'
These are apps recommended by health professionals to support with mental health issues including low mood, anxiety, sleep issues etc. There are apps for children, teens and adults. We may be social distancing, but there is still support available; contact us, your GP, Barnsley’s mental health team / IAPT tel: 01226 644900 if you need someone to talk to.
Keep reading for more information about these apps:
Headspace is a meditation app to help even the most distracted minds relax. You can use Headspace any time of the day, but if you have trouble sleeping it can help you nod off if you use it at bedtime. You can get the first 10 sessions for free, but need to pay for the app once you’ve completed all 10. https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app
Calm is an app to help you manage anxiety, lower stress and sleep by:
•Meditate - Learn the life-changing skill of meditation
•Sleep - Get more restful sleep and wake up feeling refreshed
•Body - Video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching
•Music - Exclusive music to help you focus, relax, and sleep
Calm is the perfect mindfulness app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users. Following a free trial, you have to pay for the app. https://www.calm.com/…
Wysa is your private reflective space for when you need to get your head straight. Sometimes we get all tangled up inside our heads, unable to move on. Wysa is great at helping you get unstuck. Co-designed by therapists, coaches, users and AI folk, Wysa lets you set the pace, helps when it can, and never judges. Nothing can match the privacy of an anonymous conversation with an AI bot. Think of it as an interactive journal meets life coach. Wysa is good at asking the right probing questions, and helping you untangle and unwind after a hard day. It is free and anonymous. https://www.wysa.io/
Sleepio is a digital sleep-improvement program featuring cognitive behavioral therapy which delivers tailored and engaging advice, 24/7. It is clinically proven to improve sleep, mental wellbeing and productivity. Only available from the Apple Store. https://www.sleepio.com/work/nhs/#/welcome?_k=mse6c2
The Worrinots is an app which allows children to share their worries and fears in a fun, safe and controlled environment. The app features engaging characters, Rip, Stomp, Shakey and Chomp – who through fun and encouragement, enable children to share their worries and concerns. The Worrinots exist to urge children to speak out and manage their emotions and feelings whilst being exposed in a fun way to coping mechanisms.
The four fun characters, each with their own individual personalities and guidance styles, ‘respond’ to the children, with instructions of next steps or follow up whilst whilst ‘ripping up’, ‘chewing’ and ‘stomping on their worries!’. These character conversations are managed by a unique dual platform whereby the Worrinots App is downloaded in two parts – one which is managed by the parent / guardian and the other which is to be put in kids’ hands as a fun app. The app is free. https://www.worrinots.com/
The Zones of Regulation
The Zones of Regulation is a digital, interactive learning tool designed to help players successfully recognize and regulate their emotions and responses. The Zones of Regulation app categorizes emotions into four color-coded zones: the green zone (content, calm, focused); the red zone (anger, terror, “out of control”); the yellow zone (excited, anxious, silly); and the blue zone (sad, tired, bored). The app allows players to choose a character, and then sets them down in a town square, where they begin to learn about the four different zones. The app is heavily text-based, which means that it is not appropriate for pre-readers, and early level readers will at times struggle with the level of the language used. The app costs £5.49 on the Android Play Store.
Reach Out Worry Time
Everyone has worries pop into their head from time to time, but sometimes they won't go away and start to impact your everyday life. https://www.zonesofregulation.com/exploring-emotions-app.ht…
ReachOut WorryTime interrupts this repetitive thinking by setting aside your worries until later, so you don't get caught up in them and can get on with your day. This means you can deal with worries once a day, rather than carrying them around with you 24/7. The app is free. https://au.reachout.com/tools-and-apps/reachout-worrytime
Lincus allows you to track and improve your health and wellbeing, to get the most out of life. Lincus has been designed with you in mind, whether you are fit and healthy or have complex health needs. Lincus helps you track your life and learn what works for you (and what doesn’t) in an easy to use, accessible app. The app is free. https://lincus.rescontechnologies.com/
MeeTwo is a free fully moderated app for teenagers, which provides peer support, expert help, inbuilt educational and creative resources as well as in app links to UK charities and helplines. MeeTwo is a neutral space which allows young people to experiment with what it feels like to open up without drawing attention to themselves while positive feedback and social support builds confidence, increases wellbeing and promotes emotional resilience.
Why is it different? 100% Moderation: Every post and reply is checked before it reaches the app to eliminate all bullying, judgment or humiliation. Positive feedback and support is curated into the app. https://www.meetwo.co.uk/
Mindshift CBT Canada
Free Evidence-Based Mental Health Relief
MindShift™ CBT uses scientifically proven strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you to learn to relax and be mindful, develop more effective ways of thinking, and use active steps to take charge of your anxiety.
Get the tools to tackle:
• Social Anxiety
The app is free. https://www.anxietycanada.com/resources/mindshift-cbt/
The Stay Alive app is a suicide prevention resource for the UK, packed full of useful information and tools to help you stay safe in crisis. You can use it if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.
In addition to the resources, the app includes a safety plan, customisable reasons for living, and a LifeBox where you can store photos and memories that are important to you.
You can also read the strategies for staying safe, explore the tips on how to stay grounded when you’re feeling overwhelmed, try the guided-breathing exercises and support your own wellness by creating your own interactive Wellness Plan.
The app links you directly to local and national crisis resources, so you won't need to carry around slips of paper with contact details on, it's all stored there within the app. If the resource isn't listed, simply add in your own. The app is free. https://www.hpft.nhs.uk/information-and-r…/…/stay-alive-app/
Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
This initial list of SEND resources has been developed with a focus on accessibility and inclusivity and is based on the recommendations of:
- trusted organisations
- multi-academy trusts
- special education headteachers
We encourage parents, teachers and schools to explore beyond this list to identify what support is best for their children and pupils with SEND.
SEND: apps and games
(Apps must be downloaded onto a compatible device)
Description: a visual instruction app, including flash cards and picture-choosing games, for children with autism and special needs.
Description: a collection of games and resources designed for a range of educational needs and stages. It includes provision for school closure.
Sensory App House Ltd
Description: a range of apps are available for pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) or Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD). All are interactive and many do not require significant coordination abilities.
Description: an all-in-one app created to support people with communication and learning difficulties. For verbal and non-verbal learners.
SEND: resources for teachers
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
Description: a downloadable guide to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and students during periods of disruption.
Registration: not required
Description: a range of downloadable resources grouped by theme. Themes include: social skills, songs and games, and picture cards.
Registration: not required
Description: downloadable teaching resources to support pupils with SEND.
Registration: not required
PMLD thematic units – from the Northern Ireland Curriculum
Description: comprehensive guidance on themed activities for learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD). A full sensory curriculum is offered.
Registration: not required
Priory Woods School
Description: resources from an award-winning, innovative school, rated by Ofsted as outstanding and put together by SEND teachers. The resources include apps and programmes.
Registration: not required
Description: A range of SEND guidance videos created in collaboration with the Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY) in addition to many other experts within the sector. Aimed at Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).
Registration: not required
Description: downloadable activities aimed particularly at Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) and Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) learners.
Registration: not required
Description: downloadable resources that can be adapted to suit the needs of pupils. Resources are aimed at a range of abilities.
Registration: not required
Speech and Language Kids
Description: a range of education and therapy resources for speech and language problems. A podcast is also available on iTunes for verbal and non-verbal children.
Registration: not required
Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Description: a range of downloadable resources to support blind and visually impaired pupils.
Registration: is required
UCL Centre for Inclusive Education
Description: a guide to help parents adjust to remote learning by providing advice and links to resources.
Registration: not required
Open letter from Vicky Ford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families
Below Vicky Ford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families writes an open letter outlining how Government plan to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during this challenging time.
To all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and others who support them
I would like to express my sincere thanks for everything you are doing at this challenging time. I also wanted to explain how the wider opening of schools and other educational settings may affect your family. This letter has been distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could also circulate it widely.
I realise that this is a particularly difficult time for children and young people with SEND and their families, and I’m sure that you have lots of questions. As you will be aware, on 28 May the Prime Minister announced that the Government’s five tests had been met and, based on all the evidence, primary schools and early years’ settings will be opening to more children and young people from the week commencing the 1 June. Secondary schools and colleges will begin to offer some face-to-face support to Year 10 and 12 students and 16-19 learners taking key exams next year.
On 26 May, the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance to help colleagues working in local authorities and educational settings to support the needs of children and young people with SEND through the process of wider opening to more children and young people. The full guidance is available at this link.
We have produced this guidance with help from SEND sector organisations, including parent carer forums and representatives, to outline pragmatic approaches that local authorities, educational settings, and parents or carers may wish to take to support children and young people with SEND throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
This guidance updates our existing advice to local authorities on risk assessments to determine which children and young people should be attending their education setting. It now also includes advice on how to approach the phased return to face-to-face education for children and young people with SEND.
I want to assure you that safety will always be our primary concern. Local authorities and educational settings should work with families to bring children and young people back to face-to-face education to ensure they receive the support that every child or young person deserves.
This new guidance sets out that children and young people with SEND in mainstream and Alternative Provision settings who have not been attending and are in eligible year groups should experience the same return to their school/college or contact with their teachers as their peers without SEND in the same year group.
We recognise that each individual child with SEND has their own needs, so decisions should be based on each child’s risk assessment with families and schools working together.
Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools should work towards welcoming back as many children and young people as can be safely catered for in their setting based on risk assessments but not using their year group as a primary deciding factor. Educational settings and local authorities should keep risk assessments up to date, to ensure they are able to offer places to pupils and students, whatever year group they are in, where circumstances have changed.
I know that there has been a huge amount of change at this time, so if you want more details, you may also wish to read further guidance including:
- Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 and actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak, which sets out the overarching aims and principles of wider opening and the next steps for education and childcare providers.
- Guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings.
- Guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care, including the use of PPE in education, childcare and children’s social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Guidance on isolation in residential educational settings.
- Guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Guidance on the changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus.
I realise that whilst the coronavirus pandemic has affected us all, children and young people with SEND and their families have often faced particularly acute challenges. This is why I was happy to announce on 19 May that the Family Fund will receive funding of £37.3 million in 2020-21.
The Family Fund provides grants to families on low incomes who have children with disabilities or severe medical conditions, and this funding includes £10 million which has been allocated to help families in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. More details can be found here.
You can also keep up to date by regularly checking the gov.uk webpages and if you want to speak to an advisor from the DfE, please do call the DfE Coronavirus helpline which we have established for local authorities, providers and parents. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).
The Council for Disabled Children has also pulled together a wide set of resources to respond to frequently asked questions.
Finally, I would like to express my personal gratitude towards all those in the SEND sector for continuing to care for, teach and support vulnerable children and young people in these difficult times.
Vicky Ford MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
The government’s updated guidance can be viewed here:
The following statemnet was released on the 30th of April. The document can be downloaded in the downloads section.
To all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and others who support them
As Ministers responsible for children and young people with SEND and their health needs, we wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.
None of us have faced a challenge like this in our lifetimes. Our response to the pandemic has different impacts on different people, but we know that these have been particularly hard for those children and young people with complex health needs, learning disabilities, autism and behaviour that challenges, and their families.
Supporting the most vulnerable children, young people and adults is a priority for us at this time. We want to ensure that children and young people with SEND are supported as well as possible in these difficult circumstances and want to update you on some changes to the law and other actions we are taking in order to enable this.
Changes to the law We are temporarily changing the law regarding Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans in two key ways. Firstly, we have issued a notice under the Coronavirus Act 2020 confirming that local authorities and health commissioning bodies (e.g. Clinical Commissioning Groups) must now use their reasonable endeavours to secure the provision set out within a child or young person’s EHC plan. This means that local authorities and health bodies must consider, for each child and young person with an EHC plan, what they need to provide during the period of the notice. This may result in a child or young person’s provision being different from that which is set out in their EHC plan, but local authorities and health services will still seek to support the needs of the child or young person in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. For example, they may offer support virtually rather than face to face. This legal change will be in force from 1st to 31st May 2020 and may be extended.
Secondly, where a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus applies, the usual timescales in regulations for various EHC processes will be replaced by requirements on local authorities, health care professionals and others to act as soon as reasonably practicable (or in line with any other timing
requirement in the regulations being amended). These changes will be in force from 1st May to 25th September 2020 and we will be keeping this under review.
We have published detailed guidance alongside these temporary changes.
A link to this guidance can be found at:
We know that as parents and others involved in the care of this vulnerable group, your primary concern is their health and wellbeing. As the Ministers for SEND and Care, we share those concerns and want to reassure you that these changes are temporary and all other requirements of the EHC process remain unchanged. The changes are designed to balance the needs of children and young people with the ability of local authorities and health services to respond to the outbreak.
Our aim is that, as far as practicable during this difficult period, EHC processes continue so that children and young people still get help and support whilst accepting that this may have to be done differently. We expect commissioning bodies – and the services they commission – to maintain education, health and care provision for vulnerable children, and also to extend extra support, where possible, to families in most need – recognising that home isolation is extremely hard for many children and young people with SEND and their families.
In addition, we want to emphasise that co-production, partnership and communication remain critical.
Keeping children and young people with EHC plans in education For those with EHC plans, we are asking local authorities and educational providers to work with families and the child or young person to carry out an individual risk assessment to judge whether the child or young person’s needs can be more safely met at home or at their educational setting. We recognise that some children and young people may be better off with the greater continuity and structure that education brings and that some of those with the most complex needs may need access to support that cannot be provided at home.
We have provided new guidance to help with that risk assessment process:
For parents whose children are not in school, the Department for Education has published the guidance and an initial list of resources to support access to high quality remote education during school closures:
Funding Local authorities across England will receive a further £1.6 billion to help them to deal with the immediate impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to over £3.2 billion. Local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet service pressures in their local
area, including within SEND and children’s social care.
We have confirmed that schools and colleges will continue to receive their usual funding, including from the high needs block, to support them through this period of disruption:
We are also providing financial support to schools to meet additional costs arising from Covid-19:
We hope that this letter has been helpful in setting out what we are doing at this time to support children with SEND. At the end of this letter, there are some key resources that may be helpful. Right now, our focus, like yours, is on the current situation and keeping you and your children safe and supported. We know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.
Helen Whately MP Minister of State for Care
Vicky Ford MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
Family Fund has received extra funding worth £10 million from the Department for Education to provide grants for families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously ill children in England this year.
This emergency funding has been provided in response to the crisis presented by the Coronavirus pandemic and will help more parents and carers to look after their children. Families can apply for grants to make their lives easier while implementing social distancing measures, including computers and tablets, outdoor play equipment and sensory toys.
The multi-million-pound settlement was announced by Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford, who said “Our first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities. I know that these unprecedented times may put additional pressure on families, particularly those whose children have the most complex needs, and these parents deserve some extra help to look after and educate them at home.
“From computers and tablets to household items that many of us take for granted, this new funding will directly benefit tens of thousands of families, making sure parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities get the support they need at this difficult time and beyond.”
Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said “Family Fund welcomes this commitment of an additional £10 million in emergency funding. It will make an incredible difference to thousands of families in England during this crisis, providing practical and essential grant support to help improve the quality of life and ease some of the additional daily pressures faced in these difficult times by many disabled children and their families.”
Wondering if you could be eligible? Click here to find out more about how to apply to Family Fund.
Please visit the SEND things to do section by clicking the following link
Here you will find useful resources for helping explain the current health crisis as well as offering ideas for things to do.
The section will be updated regularly, so keep checking back.
The follwoing updates have been sent from BMBC to update families on the impact of COVID -19 on services and the plans that are in place during this period, please click the links to view the full information:
Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments and Plans: Guidance on Temporary Legislative Changes Relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) click the following link
Terms of Reference of the Barnsley Alliance for Schools and the draft Education Improvement Strategy approved, click the following link
SEND Briefing from Barnsley Schools Alliance in Relation to COVID-19 Period clcik the following link
*UPDATED BMBC GUIDANCE* Education, health and care needs assessments and plans: Guidance on temporary legislative changes relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and re-opening of schools and educational settings from June 1st 2020, click the following link
Guidance for Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening
The Government have provided updated guidance to include new information on the recommended approaches that parents, special schools, specialist colleges, local authorities and any other settings managing children and young people with complex special educational needs and disability should follow for the return of children and young people with EHC plans, or those with complex needs but who do not have an EHC plan, to educational settings from 1 June 2020.
From 1st June the Government is asking special schools to work towards a phased return of more children and young people, without a focus on specific year groups and informed by risk assessments. From 15 June, they will be asking specialist post-16 institutions to work towards a phased return of young people, without a focus on specific year groups or proportion of learners and informed by risk assessments. This guidance outlines approaches that local authorities, educational settings, and parents or carers may wish to take.
The guidance includes:
Updating risk assessments
Phased return to educational settings
Supporting children with EHC plans in mainstream schools
Colleges and AP settings Supporting children in special schools and specialist post-16 institutions
Supporting children and young people in hospital schools Questions and answers
Copies of the documents text are available in the downloads section.
To read the full guidance click the following link:
There has been an update on the timeframe for the
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITY (SEND) TRIBUNAL TRIAL
The revised information is contained in the ministerial Letter in the downloads section. But what it basically says is that for a number of outlined reasons, and after discussion with involved parties, the trial has had its timeframe extended from its original completion date of 31st August 2020 to 31st August 2021 at the earliest.
New activites and links to useful websites and organisations that are offering help with home learning .
Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
The government have published new advice for parents and carers.
Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
You can access the advice on the govenment site.
As Barnsley now goes into a tier 3 lockdown and local cases of covid-19 are still increasing we wanted to let you know that we are still aiming to maintain the level of service that we have been operating since the beginning of September and we do not foresee any further restrictions as a result of the move to tier 3. However the situation is constantly changing and if we receive any further guidance which would suggest that we should do anything different we will contact you immediately.
Can I just remind everyone that if your child is in close contact with anyone who tests positive for covid-19 they must self-isolate for 14 days even if they have a test and test negative within those 14 days. So it will not be possible for them to take up a planned stay at Newsome within this period.
Can I also stress that if your child shows any symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus that you must inform Newsome immediately as depending on timing of their last visit we may need to consider staff and other children going into isolation.
We hope that you will bear with us in these constantly changing times and be confident that we will communicate any planned changes to you at the earliest opportunity.
We will continue to make the most of the resources we have available and we will make every effort to support families as much as we can.
Please be assured that if there is any intention to change the current service offer provided by Newsome Avenue we will ensure you are informed.
You may be aware that the Head of Service for the Barnsley Alliance, SEND and Inclusion services is currently Richard Lynch, however, he is leaving Barnsley to take up a promotion in another Local Authority from the 14th December 2020. Richard goes with our congratulations, thanks and very best wishes in his new role. We will be seeking a permanent replacement in the new year and we are putting in place an interim arrangement to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing capacity. This will include some members of staff within the current service assuming acting up duties to ensure continuity and for the Barnsley Alliance in particular, additional capacity will be brought in from outside of the council to work directly with settings and schools. Across the SEND system we are keen to ensure that there is no let-up in our improvement journey and we are confident that the arrangements we are putting in place will support this
SEND Briefing from Barnsley Schools Alliance
The briefing gives information for Barnsley MBC parents /carers, schools/academies and educational settings about children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities during the Covid-19 period.
You will find information on how the Corona Virus Act 2020 has impacted on local education arrangements, how to access education and contact details of who can help and support. It also outlines the impact on decision making panels and how assessments and annual reviews are being undertaken.
You can read the full briefing by clicking the boxes below or if you prefer you can click the useful downloads to the right of the page;
The Barnsley Schools Alliance is concerned that in the current circumstances we do all we can, collectively, to protect our most vulnerable children and young people. This information is aimed, therefore, at all education providers including schools/academies, colleges and early years settings and the parents/carers in Barnsley who have children and young people with SEND
As we are all aware, we are currently going through an extraordinary time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To keep the spread of the virus from growing, the Government has temporarily closed schools and other educational settings for most of our children and young people. The impact of this on parents/carers and children and young people is significant, especially for those families who have children or young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
As a response to this, the Government has introduced the Coronavirus Act, 2020, that will provide powers to require schools/settings, including childcare providers, to stay open for the children of key workers or those who are considered vulnerable. In addition, some requirements around education legislation may be 'relaxed' in order to help schools/academies and educational settings to run effectively during the event of an emergency.
This could include:
- Reducing teacher ratios.
- Adapting school meal standards.
- Relaxing provisions for those with special educational needs.
Some of these measures have already been put in place as they will ensure that children, young people and those who work with them remain safe, while minimising disruption to everyday life and progression to further and higher education or employment by ensuring schools have the flexibility and support that they need to enable them respond to the changing situation.
Bearing in mind the safety of all, for many children and young people with SEND, the best place for them at the present time will be to remain at home. In all cases, schools and academies should work with parents and carers and the local authority to ensure decisions regarding whether a child can or should be in school are made together and based on a clear rationale and assessment of risk.
The Barnsley Schools Alliance are united in the aim of keeping as many of our schools/academies, early years and further education settings open as possible for children and young people who are vulnerable and for children of key workers.
If you are the parent/carer of a child or young person with SEND, we recognise the difficulties keeping them at home may bring. In the current situation everyone is doing their best to keep things as routine as possible whilst recognising that education is best delivered in schools/academies and educational settings.
Therefore, if you feel that your child needs to be in school and isn’t currently accessing education, please discuss this with your child’s normal school/setting in the first instance.
If you remain concerned that your child isn’t or can’t be in school or have other concerns, you can also speak with colleagues from the following teams, who will be happy to help.
- Education, Health & Care Plan Team – EHCTeam@barnsley.gov.uk
- Special Educational Needs / Disability Information, Advice & Support Service SENDIASS@barnsley.gov.uk, phone: 01226 787 234 or you can contact via Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership for advice: 01226 775859
- Early Help support: email@example.com
- Looked After Children - firstname.lastname@example.org
As a local area, with responsibilities to all children and young people with SEND, we are also affected in how we support them, their families and schools, academies and educational settings. School closures, social distancing, working from home and self-isolation mean that the decision-making processes we typically carry out may not be able to be done in the same way.
This includes carrying out education, health and care needs assessments, annual reviews and decision-making panels about SEND placements, e.g. for access to mainstream resourced provision and special schools.
Despite the current challenges, however, we will maintain our usual approach, wherever we can to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND and their families.
Decision making panels provide professional advice and guidance to ensure robust decisions are made, in line with the regulations set out in the Children & Families Act and the SEND Code of Practice.
So that we make the best decisions for our children and young people, cases are considered at panel when accurate and current information has been received from the child or young person’s current school/setting, their parents/carers and from professionals across education, health and social care who may be involved.
Panels are not compulsory as all decisions lie with the local authority, however, we value the discussion, challenge and opinion they bring to enable the best decisions to be made.
Decisions we make include things such as, whether to carry out an education, health and care needs assessment, whether to issue an EHCP and to whether to consider/agree a specialist placement for a child or young person.
Panels are still being held during this time, but they are being done ‘virtually’ to protect people and avoid unnecessary contact, i.e. meetings take place by people logging in through a secure internet website.
As the current situation means that children and young people are probably not in school and the fact that we are all practicing social distancing, working from home and self-isolation, it may be difficult for everyone to provide up to date information for panels. This may affect our decision making and lead to a longer period before we can move some cases forward.
We will, however, endeavour to address all of the needs of children and young people with SEND to the best of our ability through regular panels including the following:
To agree, issue, amend or cease an EHC Plan. Amendments include changes in funding and provision.
Weekly – held on Tuesdays
Senior representatives from the EHC Team, Inclusion Services, Health and Social care
Manage EHC Needs
Assessment applications and decide whether statutory assessment is required
Weekly – held on Tuesdays
Senior representatives from the EHC Team, Inclusion Services and SENCOs
Guidance from the Government regarding school closures and social distancing means that the education, health and care needs assessment (EHCNA) process may not be able to be carried out in the usual way.
All new requests for EHCNA will continue to be considered and decisions made whether to carry out an assessment will be made, wherever possible, in line with the six-week statutory timescale.
Education, Health and Care Coordinators will be available via email and telephone contact and will make every effort to communicate with parents/carers and schools/settings in a timely way.
Advice and information, that is a key part of the EHCNA process, will continue to be requested from education settings, education inclusion services, health and social care colleagues, whilst recognising the challenges the current situation may pose for them providing that within time-scale. This must also be done in compliance with the Government guidance, which may mean:
- Information may be gathered via secure weblinks.
- Consultations will take place using online methods, e.g. Microsoft Teams, wherever possible.
- Email contact may be used to contacting school/setting colleagues and other professionals.
- Contact with children, young people and parents/carers can be made via email or telephone
In all cases, information must be treated in compliance with the general data protection regulations (GDPR) and encrypted, wherever possible.
Following an EHCNA, a decision regarding whether to issue an EHCP, will be communicated to parents/carers and schools/settings by week sixteen of the process. If an EHCP is being issued, they will work with the child or young person and their parents/carers via email and/or telephone to draft the EHCP in co-production. Fifteen days will be provided for any comments and discussions about the draft EHCP in line with statutory time-scales.
Consulting schools/settings regarding suitability of a placement may be impaired due to the current situation but we aim to keep to the fifteen calendar days response time before we proceed with naming a school/setting in an EHCP. will make every effort to ensure that full and clear information and discussion has been provided throughout all our processes and procedures.
We are continuing to provide advice for Education, Health and Care Needs assessments and annual reviews, as appropriate, for children and young people as this is a key priority for us, so that we can all ensure they receive the support they need.
We recognise the importance of ensuring that all provision for children and young people is reviewed regularly. Therefore, wherever possible, we are continuing to carry out annual reviews of EHCPs for children and young people who already have them.
We will work with parents/carers and schools/settings to try to accommodate these in a way that works for everyone. This may mean carrying out reviews through telephone and other technological methods.
The offer over the summer term is based on ensuring that we can offer support to our most vulnerable children and young people in Barnsley, but at this difficult time for everyone, we want to do all we can to support schools/settings and families.
- Government information for parents/carers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
- Children’s Commissioner parent/carer resources during Coronavirus: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/coronavirus/resources/
- Council for Disabled Children, resources for Covid-19, including education and health and care information and support: https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/help-resources/resources/covid-19-support-and-guidance
For children and young people:
- ADCS, child friendly explanation: https://adcs.org.uk/assets/documentation/Child_Friendly_Explanation_of_Coronavirus.pdf
- Children’s Commissioner, children’s guide to Coronavirus: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/childrens-guide-to-coronavirus/
- Public Health /England, easy read, visual guide: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874281/COVID-19_easy_read.pdf
- Coronavirus: a book for children: https://nosycrowcoronavirus.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/Coronavirus_ABookForChildren.pdf
Government documents and suggested websites for education:
A range of useful resources: https://www.howareyoufeeling.org.uk/coronavirus-resources
Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments and Plans: Guidance on Temporary Legislative Changes Relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Due to the current Coronavirus situation there are challenges for all local authorities to continue to meet the law, as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014, specifically to adhere to section 42; the duty to secure special educational provision, health and care provision in accordance with an education, health and care plan (EHCP).
In response to this, the Secretary of State for Education has given notice that some aspects of the law on education, health, and care (EHC) needs assessments and plans are being temporarily changed.
This is to give local authorities, health commissioning bodies, education settings, and other bodies who contribute to these processes, more flexibility in responding to the demands placed on them by Coronavirus.
The changes are detailed in two ways:
- A notice from the Secretary of State for Education issued under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to modify section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014. This says that the duty on local authorities or health commissioning bodies to secure or arrange the provision is temporarily modified to a duty to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do so. This arrangement currently lasts up to the 25th May.
- The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (the ‘Amendment Regulations’). This means that there are ‘easements’ relating to the timescales for carrying out EHC needs assessments and plans. This currently lasts up to the 25th September.
All other aspects of SEND law remain unchanged.
The changes are temporary, which means that the statutory guidance, as laid out in the SEND Code of Practice, 0-25, will not be updated. The changes, however, will be kept under review for the foreseeable future.
As a local authority, we recognise the impact of the current situation on children, young people, their families and our partners across education, health, and care. We continue, however, to be committed to providing the best support and provision for all children and young people, inclusive of those with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
The following questions and answers are based on the Government guidance and outline the key changes for the next period of the Coronavirus response.
As you will all be aware, the situation is fast changing and dependent on direction from the Government. We will provide further updates as soon as we are aware of any changes to circumstances or moves towards re-opening schools and working, in a phased way, back to ordinariness.
Click on the drop downs for more information or you can download the full document at the right hand side of the page. If you have any questions regarding this document you can e mail them to infoFIS@barnsley.gov.uk and they will then be passed onto the relevant officer / service.
Secretary of State notification of modifications
The Secretary of State has notified of modification to section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014; the duty to secure special educational provision, health and care provision in accordance with an EHCP. This will last, up to the 25th May.
The decision has been made so that the duty is to be treated as carried out if relevant organisations have used ‘reasonable endeavours’ to discharge their duty during the current period.
This is because the current situation may make it more difficult for us and health partners to secure or arrange the full range of provision in an EHCP, e.g. it may not be possible for professionals, such as educational psychologists, and health therapists to provide their usual level of service in relation to the EHC needs assessment and plan processes.
Any changes to provision, albeit temporary, should be recorded for each child or young person for future reference.
Amendments to the existing regulations
From 1st May to 25th September 2020, the regulations, which cover most of the statutory timescales for the EHC needs assessment and plan processes, will be temporarily modified.
This means that timescales for specific processes being concluded may be modified, if they are affected by a reason relating to the transmission or incidence of Coronavirus.
This may be because it may not be ‘reasonably practicable’ or ‘impractical’ for a local authority, health commissioning body or others to conclude the process in question.
The modified duty will provide an expectation, however, for the duty to be discharged, ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ or ‘as soon as practicable’.
In some cases, we may still be able to secure or arrange the provision as set out in an EHCP. Where this cannot be delivered, what can be done to deliver provision differently will be considered and alternative arrangements may be put in place. This will be dependent on, e.g.
- The capacity of specialist staff to deliver interventions.
- The extent of the arrangement’s schools can make to provide home learning programmes.
- Access to IT and internet at home.
In usual circumstances we must comply with the following timescales:
- Notification on whether the carry out an assessment by week 6.
- Decision on whether to issue an EHCP by week 16.
- Issuing a final plan by week 20.
Now, if it is impractical for us to meet these statutory timescales because of a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of Coronavirus, we will, instead, reach those decisions as soon as practicable.
At this challenging time, it remains vitally important that we work together across the local authority, health services, education settings and families identify appropriate ways forward. Co-production and effective communication remain as important as ever.
We want to ensure that children, young people and parents/carers are provided with the information, advice and support necessary to enable them to participate effectively in discussions and decisions about support.
The local SENDIAS service also has a critical role to play in supporting young people and families.
At this point in time, annual review requirements remain in place. However, the government has legislated to provide extra flexibility for local authorities over the timing of these reviews.
For example, where it is impractical for us to complete an annual review of an EHCP within the prescribed timescales, for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of Coronavirus, then we must complete it as soon as reasonably practicable.
Annual reviews may, in the current circumstances, need to take a different form. However, it is important that they continue so that we can ensure that the child or young person, has the right provision, is at the centre of the process and can engage in a meaningful way.
A review meeting, even if briefer than usual, can be reassuring for parents, children and young people as it will ensure that their EHCP is up to date and that they can receive appropriate provision.
We have already completed this year’s required transfer reviews for children and young people moving between key phases of education, e.g. between primary and secondary schools, from secondary school to a post-16 provision or apprenticeship, or moving between post-16 institutions.
There is no change to the statutory deadlines for these reviews.
The Amendment Regulations came into force on 1st May. If consideration of a request for an EHC needs assessment or one of the processes that may follow was in progress on that date, then the relevant exception to the timings in the Amendment Regulations could apply if Coronavirus has caused a delay. However, if the final deadline for an EHCP happened before the 1st May, the new regulations do not apply.
The duty on early years providers, schools and colleges to co-operate with the local authority in the performance of its SEND duties remains in place.
Close working and communication between all parties is a central element in ensuring that children and young people receive appropriate provision.
The expectation in the SEND Code of Practice is that we give early years providers, schools and colleges up to 15 calendar days to respond to a proposal to name their institution in an EHCP and this remains in place.
Therefore, while settings may remain closed to most children and young people, we look to them to make arrangements that enable them to continue to respond to consultations on future admissions during this period.
Schools and settings should remain able to engage effectively in this aspect of the EHCP process.
We recognise, however, that staff absence due to illness, self-isolation, etc. may affect the speed with which a setting can reply.
In such circumstances, the school or setting needs to communicate with us about a possible delay in responding.
Whilst the Secretary of State for Education now has powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to temporarily disapply the duty to admit, he has not issued any such notice to do so at this time.
An early year’s provider, school, college or other setting named in an EHCP must, therefore, admit a child or young person if they are named in the EHCP.
If a setting is temporarily closed, they must still admit. In the case of a school or college, the child or young person must be placed on roll and treated in the same way as other pupils or students who belong to the setting.
Wherever possible we will continue with statutory processes, e.g. we may be able to carry out observations of a child or young person if they are still in a setting where this can be done in ways consistent with guidance on reducing the transmission of Coronavirus.
New ways of working, however, are needed in the current exceptional circumstances, e.g. we have already started to run virtual advisory panels by a secure online meeting platform to assist with decision-making.
We are also actively gathering information by phone or by other methods.
Despite our commitment to innovative and flexible ways of working, we recognise that the current situation may make it more difficult for us and our health partners to secure or arrange all the elements of the special educational and health provision in an EHCP. This may be because:
- The child or young person is not currently attending an early year’s provider, school, college or other setting.
- Social distancing guidelines may disrupt an education settings normal learning programmes for those who are still attending and may make certain interventions impractical.
- The resources and services to secure the provision are reduced, e.g. because of illness, self-isolation or the need to direct staff resources differently.
Blanket policies about the provision to be secured or arranged will not be made. In deciding what provision must be secured or arranged we will look at the needs and specific circumstances affecting each child or young person.
Where a child or young person’s needs have changed, it may be necessary to conduct an early review of their EHCP.
Temporary changes to the law only affect various statutory timescales for processes relating to an EHC needs assessment and plan.
All the other requirements of the processes remain unchanged, which means that we must still:
- Consider requests for a new EHC needs assessment or re-assessment.
- Secure all the required advice and information to be able to issue a plan.
- Have regard to the views and wishes of a child, the child’s parent or a young person when exercising SEND functions.
- Give parents/carers or the child or young person at least 15 days to give their views and make representations on the content of a draft plan.
- Include all the required advice and information in any final EHCP.
- Ensure the provision set out in the final plan is in line with the statutory requirements for any EHCP.
- Carry out reviews and re-assessments of EHCPs (although there can, in some circumstances, be flexibility over the timing of an annual review).
- Make decisions, including those over the content of any EHCP, in accordance with the statutory framework, based on the individual needs, provision and outcomes for the child or young person.
Clearly these are unprecedented times. One aspect of this is that most children and young people who have EHCPs are not currently attending their usual education setting.
In most instances, we, along with schools and settings will be able to work with families and partners to agree a mutually satisfactory arrangement for the time being.
However, where a parent or young person may be dissatisfied about ours or our health partners actions over how we have discharged our modified duties, or about the timeliness relating to EHC needs assessments or plans have been progressed, then effective ways of resolving disagreement are crucial.
In the current fast-changing and complex situation, it is particularly important that we have effective ways of resolving such disagreements swiftly, wherever possible, using established decision-making mechanisms within the local area.
Therefore, the complaints mechanisms described in chapter 11 of the SEND Code of Practice are unchanged. However, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has suspended all casework activity.
In cases where disputes arise, the SENDIAS service will continue to have a key role to play in supporting families in finding the best way forward.
Of course, we try to resolve all issues regarding the EHC processes, without the need to escalate these. However, where we have not been able to do that, the right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) remain unchanged.
HM Courts and Tribunal Service has confirmed that its service will continue during the Coronavirus period and that the tribunal is making efforts to conclude as many appeals as possible, particularly for those relating to phase transfers.
In the same way that we are finding new ways of working, guidance from the tribunal indicates that it will be increasingly using phone, video and other technology to conduct its business during the current period.
The tribunal continues to hear cases that fall within its remit. These have not been changed.
The national trial, which extends the power of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), to health and social care is also continuing.
The trial means that the tribunal will be able to make non-binding recommendations on health and social care aspects of EHCPs.
- Secretary of State modification notice issued under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to modify section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882290/CV19_Act_modification_notice_SEND.pdf
- Annex A: details of the amendments to the existing Regulations: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/changes-to-the-law-on-education-health-and-care-needs-assessments-and-plans-due-to-Coronavirus/annex-a-details-of-the-amendments-to-the-existing-regulations
- Risk assessment: advice on SEND risk assessments