Children & Families Minister Vicky Ford and Care Minister Helen Whately have written an open letter to children and young people with SEND, their parents, families and others who support them.
The letter explains the actions that need to be taken to ensure, where possible, all pupils return to their educational settings from September, and responds to some of the concerns and questions that have been raised.
Key messages include:
- The importance for those with special educational needs and disabilities to return to educational settings safely in September so that they can receive face-to-face education and support
- Reassures that the risk of contracting the virus in educational settings is low and outlines protective measures in place to reduce the risk even further, including the NHS Test and Trace system
- Ministers expect a small number of absences from children and young people who remain under the specialist care of a health professional however, the plan for their return to education settings should be determined following an assessment with this professional and supported by a conversation between parents and the school
- Children and young people with SEND should continue to receive the therapeutic and other specialist interventions they would receive ordinarily
- All children, young people and their families will continue to have access to testing if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, and their setting will be provided with a small number of easy to use home testing kits for those who might not otherwise receive one
- The Ministers are working with the Department for Transport, Public Health England and key stakeholders to finalise new guidance for local authorities on providing dedicated school transport. This guidance will be published shortly.
The letter also states that, unless the evidence changes, they will not be issuing further national notices to modify the duty on local authorities and health commissioning bodies to secure or arrange the special educational and health care provision set out in a child or young person’s EHC plan in order to ensure children and young people receive the support they need to return to school.
Importantly, Minister’s highlight that out of school settings providing childcare, short break or respite services will be able to open from 1 July and into the summer holiday.