Special Educational Needs coronavirus guidance

Information, resources and guidance relating to coronavirus for families with children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).

Summer activities (Short breaks)

A range of activities have been commissioned by Children First Northamptonshire for children with special educational needs and disabilities of all ages and across the county. There will be 124 places available which will be advertised by the providers. It is expected that sessions will fill up quickly. Activities range from fishing and football to general activity sessions.

Places are limited this year due to the Covid -19 outbreak and the way that activities need to run in order to follow the government guidance:

Should you have any queries regarding these activities please contact Sufficiency@childrenfirstnorthamptonshire.co.uk

Returning to education

It is the government’s plan that all children and young people, in all year groups, will return to school and college full time from the beginning of the autumn term.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) attending special schools should also refer to the separate guidance for full opening of special schools and other specialist settings - Gov.uk. 

If you have concerns about your child returning to school or college, because you consider they may have other risk factors, you should discuss with your school or college the measures they are putting in place to reduce risks in line with government guidance.

All education settings have a statutory duty under equalities legislation to make reasonable adjustments for disabled children. Many children and young people will have found lockdown exceptionally difficult socially and emotionally. Settings should consider any challenging behaviours or social or emotional challenges arising as a response to the lockdown and offer additional support and phased returns where needed.

If you continue to have concerns, please contact the EHC team for further advice.

This letter explains some of the actions that will take place to ensure a safe return to education and aims to reassure parents and carers.

Children that are unable to return to education

A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves, or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19). If your child is unable to attend school or college for this reason, you should talk to your school or college about what support is in place in terms of remote education.

Your child’s school or college will be able to give you more information about the specific measures they have put in place.

School transport

Transport costs for students in Year 12 and up (Post 16 Education) will be refunded for the last two terms of this academic year by the Transport Team.

Due to the current challenges in the working arrangements there may be some delays in processing them, but every effort will be made to repay them as soon as possible.

However if you have not been refunded by end of July, please contact SENTransport@northamptonshire.gov.uk for further advice.

Telephone conversations

The Department for Education have asked us to make contact with every family who have a son or daughter with an Education Health and Care plan and have a talk about how you are, how you are supported by your school and other agencies is during the coronavirus outbreak.

You can expect to get a phone call from one of the staff from Education Services at NCC over the next few weeks. If your son or daughter is over 16, their opinion would also be valued.

Children with SEND returning to schools

We have received an open letter from Vicky Ford (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families) dated 30 May 2020 and have been asked to share it with families.

Resources for parents and carers

Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA) have produced FAQs on how the COVID-19 measures will affect children and young people with special educational needs.

SEN schooling at home

There are home education resources on the GOV.UK website for children with additional needs:

The National Oak Academy is an online school with lessons and resources for parents and teachers. There are specialist lessons available, and weekly assemblies. Find out more information on The National Oak Academy website.

StarLine is an online resource with home learning advice. They also provide weekly live conversations with guest education and parenting experts on Youtube. More information is available on the StarLine website.

We have put together resources to help support families at this time:

Resources for children and young people

What is Coronavirus Covid-19?

  • File Download - Coronavirus - a book for children (PDF 7MB)Coronavirus - a book for children (PDF 7MB)
    Axel Scheffler has illustrated a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds, such as what is the coronavirus and how do you catch it?

News and current affairs

  • The Week Junior
    A subscription printed newspaper for children and young people between 8 and 14
  • BBC Newsround
    The BBC current affairs programme for children and young people

Yoga

There are lots of yoga practices for children and young people. We have a few local ones on the Local Offer and there are many online classes and groups you can join:

  • Yogapebbles website
    Lisa offers local classes for children with special educational needs and is offering online classes for regulars.
  • KarmaKids - Facebook
    Heather is a local yoga teacher for children and has a Facebook page for updates on her Zoom classes during the virus outbreak.

Meditation

Anxiety

  • Young Minds
    The Young Minds website has tips, advice and guidance on where young people can get mental health support.  

Local council services for children with special educational needs and disabilities

The EHC team are doing their best to make every reasonable endeavour to support children and young people with SEND in our communities, and to protect from coronavirus.  

You can find out more information on the EHC webpage.

​Short breaks

Action for Children are commissioned to provide a short break service for children in Northamptonshire. Youth clubs and holiday clubs have been suspended for the foreseeable future.

Action for Children are running virtual groups and this gives a chance for young people to see their friends. Activity packs have been sent out and staff are contacting those families who need continued support. Various activities are happening virtually such as cooking, help with activities and more.

You can contact them by emailing Northants.Disability@actionforchildren.org.uk

Residential breaks

Children assessed as needing residential breaks may continue to receive this support. Referrals to the Disabled Children's Service can be made through the MASH.

​The IASS team continue to offer support to parents and families through their helpline, but are not able to offer face to face support at the current time.

You contact them by emailing contact@iassnorthants.co.uk 

Leave your name, number and a message and one of their caseworkers will contact you.

Find out more information on the IASS website.

​Northamptonshire libraries are slowly re-opening to the public, with new arrangements. Many continue to offer their usual activities online, such as Rhyme-time and craft sessions for children. We recommend that you check the Library Services webpages for the latest information.

Library members can still access a range of e-books, e-audiobooks, e-newspapers and e-magazines from home through the library online.

​The Local Offer team continue to update information on their website and are active on social media, sharing resources and information for families and professionals.

Please let us know if there is any information you need or would like us to share. 

Email: Localoffer@childrenfirstnorthamptonshire.co.uk

​Northamptonshire Sport are dedicated to supporting children and young people throughout the county with their sport and exercise programme.

The School Sports Development Officers are sharing ideas of activities. You can follow them on Twitter.

Northamptonshire Sport provide ideas for suitable activities for children and young people with disabilities, visit the Northamptonshire Sport website for more information.

​The Specialist Support Services are currently unable to offer face to face support, but are continuing to support children and young people and their families and those who work with them. Find out more information by visiting the Specialist Support Services webpage.

Workshops have been suspended for the time being. All delegates booked onto courses should have been notified of arrangements.

Contact the service by emailing sss@childrenfirstnorthamptonshire.co.uk

​The SIS team continue to support children and young people with a hearing or visual impairment (and those with both). During this time the Sensory Impairment Service (SIS)  are able to offer support by phone or email.

In line with the latest government policy the Sensory Impairment Service are not offering face to face teaching or other input, but continue to provide the service as effectively as possible. You can find out more information by visiting the Sensory Impairment Service webpage.

If you would like a consultation with a Qualified Teacher of the Vision Impaired (QTVI) or a Qualified Teacher of the Deaf (QTOD), please either email the specialist teacher who is currently supporting your child or email SIS@childrenfirstnorthamptonshire.co.uk

New referrals will continue and follow up contact will be made by phone.

Deafconnect have been offering Zoom youth clubs for children and young people with a hearing impairment during the Lockdown instead of their usual youth club. They have been offering sign language training on line and a Facebook live feed.

They have WhatsApp groups for both parents and young people. They are planning small group activities for the summer holidays as the Lockdown restrictions ease.

Advice received from National Deaf Children's Society about planning for a return to school in September for children with a hearing impairment.

​Northamptonshire Highways continue to operate a home to school transport service to support key worker families and vulnerable children and adults. Demand for this service is being reviewed daily with schools and transport operators.

The priority is to keep all users and staff safe and healthy and they continue to take advice from the Government regarding the legal duty to deliver appropriate transport, whilst taking into account the incident or transmission of coronavirus.

They continue to provide home to school transport where required, please contact them if your circumstances need to change.

The statutory process of 'home to school' transport lies with the Travel Team and detailed advice should be taken from them. You can find out more information by visiting the school travel assistance webpage.

Travel arrangements will be agreed for pupils with a newly issued education, health and care (EHC) plan via the Travel Co-ordination Unit(TCU).

You can find about more information about the TCU and apply for travel assistance on the special educational needs travel assistance webpage.

Any current travel arrangements for students transitioning from primary school to secondary school (academic year 6 to year 7) but remaining at the same school, will not automatically be renewed. In this situation, a new application form must be submitted to the TCU for consideration.

Health care appointments

As the Health Authorities proceed with the recovery and restoration phase of their normal work, there are likely to be changes in how services are managed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is a national requirement that face coverings are to be worn by everyone over the age of 3 years in all NHS sites, including GP surgeries. You can expect a phone call before your first clinic appointment to explain what you need to do. Exceptions will be made for people with disabilities that would make wearing face coverings difficult. Please discuss before you attend the appointment. Clinics are reducing the amount of time people spend in waiting rooms.   

Consultations and contacts are being made remotely, by video or phone conversations wherever possible.

Audiology Clinics have started seeing urgent cases and very young children face to face. The new-born hearing screening continues and all babies have been seen.
The Emmeline Centre in Addenbrooks Hospital is seeing children with AB and cochlear implants and those on the 1st year of the pathway. They are not offering a 'drop in' service or their Outreach work for the time being. 
They are aiming to conduct part of the consultation over the phone/video call in advance of the hearing assessment.  

Community Paediatricians

A small number of urgent face-to-face appointments are being offered when absolutely necessary according to clinical need, after telephone triage, and with PPE in place. Other routine appointments are being offered over the phone.

ADHD and ASD services

Final diagnostic appointments continue to be offered, primarily by phone. Medication review appointments also continue by phone. School observations are currently not able to be undertaken therefore this stage of the diagnostic pathway is currently on hold. They are currently exploring if there are any reasonable alternative processes that could be undertaken whilst lockdown remains in place. They have expanded their professionals consultation line to include parents, for cases when urgent advice is needed.

Council for Disabled Children

The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) is the umbrella body for the disabled children's sector in England.

It brings together over 200 voluntary and community organisations (and an active network of practitioners) to champion the rights of children and young people aged 0 to 25 with SEND.

They provide a range of useful information including:

  • official government advice
  • resources from DCP organisations
  • resources relating to particular conditions
  • regional specific resources
  • helplines and other sources of advice and guidance

Visit their website to find out more:

Following the Minister's request, the Council for Disabled Children have launched two e-mail in-boxes on the impact of Coronavirus on children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Send questions to: CDCquestions@ncb.org.uk.

Enquiries about resources: CDCresources@ncb.org.uk.

They provide the opportunity to ask questions about how Coronavirus will impact on children and young people with SEND.

The Disabled Children's Partnership are providing a range of support and information.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

We have created an FAQs document to answer questions from parents on education, health and social care for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities during the Coronavirus outbreak