We are understandably getting many calls from parents asking for advice to support them in making decisions about their child returning to school in September. We understand that this prospect may raise many questions for you and will differ depending on the particular needs of your child and the setting they attend. We thought it might be helpful to draw together some Government guidance that should help you in planning for your child’s return in the new academic term.
Supporting all children and young people and maintaining their safety should be of the highest priority for schools.
The Government has now published plans for all children to return to full-time education from September. The guidance provides advice for settings to follow as they prepare for welcoming back all pupils with special educational needs, in both mainstream and special educational settings.
The guidance for special educational settings is available here: gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings
The guidance for mainstream settings is available here: gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools
For families in Wales read this guidance from Welsh Government:
Shielding advice for all adults and children in England will pause on 1 August, subject to the continued decline in the rates of community transmission of COVID-19, which will mean that any pupil with Down’s syndrome previously on the shielded patient list can return to their educational setting in September. For those currently identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, decisions about returning to school in September should be based on a consultation with their paediatric specialist or GP.
Further advice on shielding is available here: gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-young-people-on-shielding-and-protecting-people-most-likely-to-become-unwell-if-they-catch-coronavirus#understanding-the-clinical-risk-to-children-and-young-people
For Families in Wales, read this statement about end of Shielding in Wales from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales: gov.wales/shielding-wales-pause-16-august
Guidance on shielding from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is available here: rcpch.ac.uk/resources/covid-19-shielding-guidance-children-young-people#frequently-asked-questions-on-shielding
Where a pupil is unable to attend their setting because they are complying with clinical or public health advice, schools will be expected to immediately offer access to remote education.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government brought in a Bill to modify Section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014, so that local authorities and health commissioners could use their ‘reasonable endeavours’ to arrange the specified educational and health care provision in a child’s EHC plan. The Minister has said: ‘We are committed to removing these flexibilities as soon as possible, so that children and young people can receive the support they need to return to school. As such, unless the evidence changes, we will not be issuing further national notices to modify the EHC duties but will consider whether any such flexibilities may be required locally to respond to outbreaks’.
Our Information Team are on hand to answer any queries you have on 0333 12 12 300.
First photograph by Richard Bailey