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.
Please click the following link to take you to the full guidance information: