SEND advice including impact of COVID-19 on EHC plans
AfC Richmond and Kingston have updated their FAQs to share information about the current management of Education, Health and Care plans.
You can find resources for RBWM by following the link below.
The Department for Education produced an updated list of Frequently asked questions about provision for children and young people with EHC plans on 1st April 2020
Please also see sidebar and follow links to the two AfC SEND Local Offer websites (Kingston & Richmond and RWBM).
FAQ about provision for children with EHC plans
Do all children and young people with an EHC plan need to continue at school?
Many children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home. Schools, colleges, other training providers and local authorities will need to consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHC plan, alongside the views of their parents, and make a risk assessment for each child or young person. Local authorities and schools or colleges should decide together who is best placed to undertake the risk assessment, noting that the duty to ensure provision remains with the local authority.
They will need to consider a number of different risks to each individual, including:
- the potential health risks to the individual from COVID-19, bearing in mind any underlying health conditions. This must be on an individual basis with advice from an appropriate health professional where required
- the risk to the individual if some or all elements of their EHC plan cannot be delivered at all, and the risk if they cannot be delivered in the normal manner or in the usual setting
- the ability of the individual’s parents or home to ensure their health and care needs can be met safely
- the potential impact to the individual’s wellbeing of changes to routine or the way in which provision is delivered
We expect most children and young people with EHC plans will fall into the following categories:
children and young people who would be at significant risk if their education, health and care provision and placement did not continue, namely those who could not safely be supported at home. This may include those with profound and multiple learning difficulties, and those receiving significant levels of personal care support. Local authorities will need to work with the individual’s educational setting – especially residential special schools and specialist colleges – as well as local health partners, to ensure they are able to remain open wherever possible. This may mean deploying staff from other education settings, to keep staffing ratios safe
children and young people whose needs can be met at home, namely those who are not receiving personal care from their educational setting, or whose limited need for personal care can be met in their family home.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 allows the Secretary of State, where appropriate, to temporarily lift the statutory duty on local authorities to maintain the precise provision in EHC plans; with local authorities needing instead to apply ‘reasonable endeavours’ to support these children and their families. As such, where the Secretary of State has issued a temporary notice and a local authority is unable to secure the full range of provision stated in a plan, as long as they use their ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do this, they won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty in section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
What will local authorities be expected to provide for children with EHC plans?
During this outbreak, educational settings, local authorities, health bodies, parents and young people with SEND should work together to respond pragmatically and flexibly to each individual’s needs.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 will help government respond to the outbreak. This legislation gives the Secretary of State powers to provide for local authorities where appropriate temporarily to have more flexibility to prioritise their efforts to support those with the most complex needs.
Local authorities will need to work closely with educational settings – and in particular, special schools and specialist colleges, and other specialist provision – to ensure sufficient provision is available across the local area. Local authorities and educational settings may need to redeploy staff (whether teachers, support staff or other critical workers) to ensure that specialist settings have sufficient workforce to operate safely; and may need to do this across the usual boundaries of maintained, academy, college or other status to ensure the right staff are in the right settings.
Any changes made to a child or young person’s provision in their EHC plan would only remain in place temporarily. The full range of provision would be reinstated once the temporary notice expires.
We are also proposing to amend regulations to provide for flexibility over matters such as the timescales in EHC needs assessments, and the reviews, re-assessments and amendments processes where particular cases are affected by the COVID-19 situation.
The Department for Education will seek to ensure that local authorities receive clear guidance and support to help them manage these new requirements effectively.
My child is still waiting for the EHC plan to be agreed and/or I am going to the tribunal to secure the EHC plan for my child. Will they qualify as a vulnerable child and be able to go to their education setting?
If the local authority has not yet issued an EHC plan for your child, then they will not automatically fall within the definition of ‘vulnerable children’ for the purposes of attendance at an education setting during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, their educational setting and local authority have discretion to undertake a risk assessment and offer support if that is needed.
If your child has an EHC plan the local authority remains responsible for maintaining it, including until any appeal to the tribunal has been heard and resolved.
We are also proposing to amend regulations to provide for flexibility over matters such as the timescales in EHC needs assessments, and the reviews, re-assessments and amendments process where particular cases are affected by the COVID-19 situation.
Special schools and specialist colleges
What should be done about infection control in educational settings for children who have complex needs?
We know that this is a worrying time for parents and for staff working with children and young people with complex needs. It is important that decisions are made based on risk assessments – for both the child and for the educational setting – and are informed by the latest public health and medical advice and guidance available. With support from government guidance and local partner agencies, leaders of educational settings are well-placed to make judgements about what is needed in their settings, and the government will support them in that.
Read Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on isolation for residential educational settings for more information.
Will my child’s special school or specialist college stay open?
Where a child or young person requires ongoing provision, this may continue to be provided at their current special school or specialist college, but not always. Local authorities, schools and colleges, working together and taking into account parents’ views, will need to make decisions regarding the provision required to meet the needs of children and young people in their area.
Do special schools and specialist colleges need to open over the Easter holidays?
Where possible, we would encourage settings to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays. Local authorities will need to ensure, as usual, that provision continues to be available to meet education, health and care needs. Following discussion with schools, this may involve some special schools and colleges continuing to offer some or all of their provision over the Easter holidays.
What about residential special schools and special post-16 institutions?
Children and young people placed in residential special schools and specialist colleges frequently have the most complex special educational needs, requiring high levels of support and staffing. In particular, children and young people who are placed in 52-week residential placements may not be able to be supported as safely at home as at their school or college. Any decisions about individual placements should be made based on individual risk assessments.
The department will support local authorities to work with residential special schools and specialist colleges (including independent and non-maintained special schools, state boarding schools, special post-16 institutions and other post-16 training providers) to ensure children and young people who cannot be supported at home can remain in their setting safely.
We are recommending that all residential special schools and specialist colleges conduct a risk assessment both for the institution and for individual pupils/students to identify how self-isolation measures should be enacted, if needed. This will involve close working with local authorities, the local Public Health England health protection team, the clinical commissioning group and, where appropriate, the child’s parents.
We will continue to work with local authorities and sector bodies (such as the National Association of Independent and Non-maintained Special Schools (NASS), Natspec and the Boarding Schools Association) to consider how best to support these settings, for example, to ensure they have the right staffing.
Read Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on isolation for residential educational settings for more information.
What about those with EHC plans who attend mainstream schools and colleges?
Many children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home. If a risk assessment shows that the needs of an individual with an EHC plan cannot be met at home, it is likely they will continue at their usual school or college, but there may be a need to attend a different setting, for instance due to insufficient staffing ratios which cannot be remedied by drawing on additional appropriately skilled staff.
What if there are not enough staff in educational settings due to COVID-19?
Local authorities will need to work closely with educational settings – and in particular special schools and other specialist provision – to ensure sufficient provision is available across the local area. Local authorities and educational settings may need to redeploy staff (whether teachers, support staff or other critical workers) to ensure specialist schools and specialist colleges have sufficient workforce to operate safely, and may need to do this across the usual boundaries of maintained, academy, college or other status to ensure the right staff are in the right settings.
How will local authorities and educational settings manage the financial impact of these changes?
Funding for all schools (including maintained and academy special schools, non-maintained special schools, independent special schools, pupil referral units, and special post-16 institutions), whether from local or central government, will be maintained and not reduced because some or all pupils are not in attendance (either because of self-isolation, or where the institution has closed).
We will maintain grant funding to FE colleges. They will continue to receive their existing adult education budget and 16 to 19 grant allocations, in the usual way.
We know that schools may face additional costs, as a result of COVID-19. We will put in place a new process that allows us to reimburse schools for exceptional costs that they face as a result. We will discuss how best to deliver this funding with stakeholders over the next few days, and will publish details of the scheme shortly, but we trust that this will give headteachers the reassurances they need, so that they are able to concentrate on their vital role in supporting the nation through this crisis.
See also DfE website
Pre COVID-19 advice about SEND from AfC Virtual School
If your child has been diagnosed with a special educational need or a disability, they may need extra help at school. This help can include additional support with one or more of the following: thinking and understanding; physical or sensory difficulties; emotional and behavioural difficulties; difficulties with speech and language or how they relate to and behave with other people.
Every mainstream school is required to have a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator. Their title is usually abbreviated to SENDCo or SENCo and sometimes they are also described as an Inclusion Co-ordinator. They must be an experienced, qualified teacher and their role is to liaise with the school leadership team to create their school’s strategic SEND policy and to provide leadership and support across the whole school in identifying and supporting children with SEND. The SENDCo may also be the Designated Teacher for previously-looked after children but the role of DT is also often taken by the head, deputy or an assistant head teacher.
The SEND code of practice 0-25, published by gov.uk, contains statutory guidance for head teachers, governors, school and college staff, SENCos, local authorities, early education providers and health and social services staff and is a useful resource for adoptive parents and guardians whose children have special educational needs.
A guide for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND from the DfE is available as a pdf at the bottom of this page.
A list of key teams that you can contact within AfC for Kingston and Richmond is available here: https://kr.afcinfo.org.uk/pages/local-offer/information-and-advice/how-to-contact-key-teams
SEND Team - contact details and customer service standards can be found here:
The local offer
To ensure that children, young people and families know what help they can get when a child or young person has special educational needs or a disability, every local authority in England must provide an information, advice and support service for them. This is known as the local offer. The term 'local offer' is also sometimes used to refer to the services that are provided by the local authority.
The local offer information service includes resources and signposting about:
education services from pre-school to further education
health services which are universal, targeted and specialist
social care services including short breaks
preparing for adulthood for young people aged 19 to 25
training opportunities for young people
transport arrangements including the local authority’s transport policy
arrangements for assessing children and young people
how to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan
transferring from a Statement of SEN to an Education, Health & Care Plan
the option of personal budgets
making complaints, appeals and tribunals
information, advice and guidance on funding, financial support and support available from local voluntary organisations
Achieving for children has two local offer websites: one for Kingston and Richmond boroughs and one for RBWM.
You can access the Kingston and Richmond local offer on the link below.
or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter: AfC Local_Offer
You may also want to download a publication written for families in Kingston and Richmond boroughs called the Golden Booklet, which explains support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, also available to download as a pdf the bottom of this page.
The website detailing the local offer for RBWM can be found at:
Phase transfer for children and young people with SEND
An EHC plan must be reviewed and amended in sufficient time prior to a child or young person moving between key phases of education, to allow for planning for and, where necessary, commissioning of support and provision at the new institution. The review and any amendments must be completed by 15 February in the calendar year of the transfer at the latest for transfers into or between schools.
AfC provides guidance on its website for children and young people moving between phases of education in Kingston and Richmond here:
The next steps programme (Richmond and Kingston)
The Next Steps programme in Kingston and Richmond was started in 2017/18 for all Year 11 learners with EHCPs (Kingston and Richmond residents), to explore their post-16 options, particularly for those young people who were unsure of what they wanted to do and for whom a vocational pathway might be appropriate. The Next Steps offer consists of a 1:2:1 interview with one of our Level 6 qualified careers advisers.
Achieving for Children implemented the programme with a commitment to continuing it for Year 11s each year. In 2018, external funding was secured to enable us to extend the Next Steps offer to Year 10 and Year 13 learners with EHCPs (Kingston and Richmond residents) and those who are also SEN Support in Kingston and Richmond schools (irrespective of residency). The Next Steps Pack will signpost you to post-16 opportunities within the local offer in Kingston and Richmond and environs.
This is intended to dovetail with careers advice offered by your child’s school, which they have a statutory duty to provide for all learners from Years 8 to 13.
If you live in RBWM, Elevate Me offers help, advice, and guidance on careers, employment, education, apprenticeships, volunteering, work experience for 16-24 year olds
Further Support is also available from Ways into Work