News item- FLSE- How special heads are dealing with Coronavirus
Last night Kim Taylor (FLSE National Executive member) joined a telephone conference organised by Graham Quinn from Special School Voice and included representatives from ‘Medicines in Special Schools’ steering group, representatives from 8 regions of England, Pauline Holbrook (SSAT) and Adam Boddison (NASEN).
This was after an earlier meeting with Ministers including Graham Quinn (Special School Voice) and Adam Boddison (NASEN).
The agenda for this meeting had been:
- Sustaining the workforce
- Local provision and coordination
- Future plans up to September (medium term view)
- Good news stories
Kim has asked me to pass on her notes from the telephone conference.
Points we all raised in further discussion
- Biggest issue that is understood is the tension between needs and safety of children and that of staff for heads.(fully appreciated)
- Government view of local decision making in the best interests of the local population is the steer now. Heads should not be left isolated. (Local leadership and briefings to Local Authorities ongoing)
- Communications: Vital this continues to prevent isolation of heads and staff. (appreciated and this will be included in daily briefings)
- Close proximity of working with the most vulnerable for intimate care or if need arises physical intervention. (not fully understood because of lack of understanding of pupil needs)
- Personal and protective equipment (PPE) – (NHS first then there will be allocation and those working with complex needs children in any setting will be priority. Staff will also have access to training to use PPE correctly too)
- How might we plan for scenario of successive partial closures (unclear if we may have waves of the Coronavirus in UK but need to plan in medium term as contingency soon)
- Testing workforce (Expectation that this will become available for critical workers but NHS staff first. Details will be out soon)
- Terminology being used to describe vulnerable – who should or should not attend school. Definition of vulnerable is open to interpretation from guidance and not the same definition everywhere. Special Associations view is to work with Local Authorities and co- construct solutions.(Acceptance and recognition that guidance for pupils with complex needs is required. Supplementary guidance will become available soon. Special school associations have offered to shape that guidance to help)
- Good news stories: Although heads want to be positive there is a view that best practice could at this point put pressure upon heads to deliver something not possible due to lack of staff or funding. Special school associations looking into ways to communicate and share.
- Easter break: (Local decision making) some heads initially have been under pressures from unions but Local Authorities now intervened to follow up.
- Indirect provision – support by special schools that do not have pupil attendance. This is a massive addition to the system.
- Infrastructure – Different starting points and funding availabilities. Understanding from special school associations that use of technology will need to build up.
- Moral dilemmas facing special schools during lock down – reports coming in of parents to special school heads from parents reporting accidents at home (child broke parents hand or behaviours) or parents not managing or facing crisis – heart breaking stories.
- Private providers closing/ residential school: In some areas schools closing and children brought back to home. Will create additional pressures.
- We need to move from reactive to strategic – There is a need to shift from day to day operations to thinking ahead about delivery of services:
- How do we maintain delivery?
- What can we do differently for the medium term?
- What might we do if we face higher infection rates?
- What might be the impact to families in the medium term?
If anyone has any comments about the above please let me have them and I will share them with Kim
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on vulnerable children and young people – Updated guidance to include additional information on children with education health and care (EHC) plans and children in alternative provision (AP) settings. You will find the answers to the questions below.
Section 20: Do all children and young people with an EHC plan need to continue at school?
Section 21: What will local authorities be expected to provide for children with EHC plans?
Section 22: What about meeting health and social care needs?
Section 23: 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 school?
Section 24: What should be done about infection control in educational settings for children who have complex needs?
Section 25: Will my child’s special school or college stay open?
Section 26: Do special schools need to open over the Easter holidays?
Section 27: What about residential special schools and special post-16 institutions?
Section 29: What if there are not enough staff in educational settings due to COVID-19?
Section 30: How will local authorities and educational settings manage the financial impact of these changes?
COVID-19: guidance for educational settings – Updated on 25 th March 2020 – Poster added
Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings –
Guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing
IPSEA Update -List of FAQs on how the COVID-19 measures will affect children and young people with special educational needs (“SEN”)
NAHT – Coronavirus guidance for school leaders
Whole School SEND – WSS have today launched a suite of new resources including Condition Specific Videos and two new Review Guides – Demonstrating Inclusion Tool and Effective SENCO Deployment
Free SEND CPD and reading for staff during school closures
I have put together a list of free SEND CPD and articles and documents that staff can access from home. Thought this might be helpful to circulate to staff.