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Hi colleagues,

added 27th March 2020

My thoughts yesterday chimed very much with Kim’s, this is what I have sent out to staff in both Co-op special academies:

“These safety steps have been agreed with my union the NEU, for staff working in special schools – I am not aware that any other unions have issued specific practical guidance yet:

  • For many children with learning difficulties and disabilities the idea of ‘social distancing’ is very hard to explain and in practice probably impossible to achieve in a meaningful way (ie to achieve clinical effectiveness).
  • Therefore we are taking every child’s temperature on arrival, and anyone who has a temp higher than 37.8 is sent home, as is any child with symptoms of cold or flu.
  • Once passed OK to come in to school all children are reminded how to, and then supervised to wash their hands for +20 seconds.
  • In the provisions we are working around 15-20% of capacity and so have locked off a substantial part of the building in order to limit the area that needs to be supervised and cleaned.
  • Nevertheless we are working in a much bigger ratio in terms of area per person than would normally be the case, so that staff and children can spread out and use separate workstations and tables wherever possible.
  • The area in use for activity is changed regularly so that furniture and equipment can be regularly sanitised.
    Playing out of doors is strongly encouraged if the weather permits.
  • If a student begins to show signs of becoming unwell: temperature, cough, flu like symptoms whilst in school, staff should isolate the young person, call home for them to be collected and they should stay off school for the next 7 days.
  • Staff have ready access to hand sanitiser gel as well as handwashing facilities in each classroom. This is a priority PPE resource for our settings.
  • Whenever intimate personal care is provided the staff must wear gloves and aprons; this is priority PPE.
  • As we are actively screening for children who are unwell on entry, we do not think it is necessary or appropriate for staff to wear face masks; if they did the pupils would need to do so too. These children would be very unlikely to be compliant with such a requirement and this would risk escalation of challenging behaviour in a way that elevated the risk for staff and children. Our school nurses have advised us that the above precautions are sufficient.
  • Additionally if we demand the use of face masks for use with children who are not thought to be unwell, we will be re-directing that resource away from staff who do need them when working with people who are known to be unwell, in the NHS and care home sectors. Also, once started, if there is an interruption of supply then we will lose staff’s confidence when their apparent ‘barrier’ is removed.
  • Some staff have started using their own DIY face masks, and there is no need to tell them not to do so, as it is their choice for reassurance even though unnecessary.
  • For the small number of children with severe challenging behaviour, where physical interventions are predictable and part of their care plan, the awareness and assessment of fluctuating health on an hour by hour basis, is the most significant safeguard.
  • After that, working is settings that allow for the minimum need to intervene physically is the next best safeguard; this is because many physical interventions are made to protect other people, property and even good order in schools, when in session. Of these the only factor to consider in the light of Covid 19 virus, is the safety of the child and the staff. If these children are not in settings where they can hurt other children, or themselves, through adjustments to the environment, then that is optimal.
  • Only if it is unavoidable should restrictive physical interventions be used, and then physical techniques that seek to counteract the risk of biting and spitting should be risk-assessed, and if necessary put into the child’s plan as a proactive measure for staff to use. Existing training packages do include these techniques as an ‘in extremis’ provision. Whereas spitting is sometimes not responded to as a ‘high risk’ behaviour, it should now be categorised as such. Police-style ‘spit hoods’ are not currently used in schools and as the use of physical devices to control children goes against all of their previous training and ethos, we do not need to adopt the use of such equipment now.
  • An additional technique for personal safety is to train and encourage staff to use one hand for all contact with objects beyond their own body such as door handles and furniture, and the other to touch their own face or items attached to their body, if wearing equipment such as gel bottles or keys. This separation is both helpful for reducing the risk of transmission of virus, but also trains awareness of the risk in everyday activity.
  • SLT at Southfield will be asking each team to implement these practices every day that we are open to provide childcare for Key Workers and vulnerable children.”

Regards,

DW

Dominic Wall

Executive Principal & SEND Lead for Co-op Academies Trust

Co-op Academy Southfield

01274 779662 | M: 07527 013462

southfieldgrange.org.uk<http://www.southfieldgrange.org.uk/southfield>  | @SouthfieldBD5<http://www.twitter.com/southfieldbd5/>

Southfield Grange Campus, Haycliffe Lane, Bradford, BD5 9ET



Please find here an open letter to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents, families and others who support them from Vicky Ford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families. The letter signposts key Covid-19 guidance published over the past week.

 



Budget cuts and school finances, are a major agenda item for schools across the UK at this time, and the ‘National SEND Forum’ have not only recognized and acknowledged the importance of this, but are attempting to campaign on behalf of schools, to help address this issue/concern.

The National Special Educational Needs and Disability Forum is a regular meeting of the leading representatives of significant national organisations in this field. It is attended by the Department for Education. The National SEND Forum (NSENDF) is politically neutral, drawing together the providers, champions and commissioners of services for the most vulnerable in the maintained, non-maintained and independent sectors and across the 0-25 age range. The Forum is facilitated and convened by the Federation of Leaders in Special Education.

The letter below has been sent to the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP by ‘The National Special Educational Needs and Disability Form’.

 

National SEND Forum 
LPEC 
PO Box 17475 
Bromsgrove 
B60 9LR 

The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, 
Chancellor of the Exchequer 
HM Treasury 
1 Horse Guards Road 
London
SW1A 2HQ 

Dear Mr Hammond,

I am writing to you on behalf of the National Special Educational Needs and Disability Forum (NSENDF). We are an organisation bringing together leading representatives of significant national special educational needs and disability (SEND) organisations at both national and local level.

The National SEND Forum (NSENDF) is politically neutral, drawing together the providers, champions and commissioners of services for the most vulnerable across the 0-25 age range in the maintained, non-maintained and independent sectors.

We meet regularly to discuss the issues that are arising across the country within education, health and social care that impact on children and young people with SEND, their families and the professionals who support them.

At a recent meeting there was much discussion again about the funding crisis that is currently being experienced by all local authorities and healthcare trusts. This is having a significant impact on the education, health and well-being of the most vulnerable children and young people in our schools.

The SEND reforms that were introduced in September 2014 have been slowly implemented over the last four years; the promise being that education, health and social care would work in partnership to support the county’s most vulnerable children and young people aged 0-25. At exactly the same time we have seen an erosion of funding from all public sector departments trying to do more with less.

To put this expectation of doing more with less into perspective, there is little in public policy that reflects evidence of the government’s own departments taking account of the increasing numbers, identification, novelty, frequency, severity, complexity and longevity of special educational needs and disabilities in both the child and adult population.

We appreciate the constraints of public finance but without sufficient funding and a more coherent approach, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEN Code of Practice 2015 are nothing more than empty promises from the government to parents and children.

There are a number of local authorities who are struggling to set a balanced budget for the next financial year and this is having an impact on the amount of funding that is going to be available to schools in the next twelve months. Many local authorities have deficits in their high needs budget and since there is no longer the opportunity to transfer significant sums of money into the high needs budget from other sources it is going to be very difficult for these to be balanced in the foreseeable future.

There are a number of factors that have led to this crisis, all of which need to be considered when allocating high needs funding to local authorities and subsequently schools.

  • In 2017 the number of pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND) increased from 1,228,785 (2016) to 1.244,255 and then again in 2018 to 1,276,215. This is an increase of 47,430.
  • With the introduction of the SEND Code of Practice 2014 we saw the SEND system expand to all pupils aged 0-25. This meant an additional number of pupils identified with SEND between the ages of 0-5 and 19-25, however no additional funding was allocated to support this expanded number of pupils eligible for support.
  • The number of pupils with an EHCP and attending a special school has also risen over the last two years by 2% with a greater number having to access non-maintained and independent schools due to their complexity of need and lack of local provision.
  • Every local authority has seen a significant loss of specialist support and provision much of which is now traded and commissioned. This means schools are having to “buy-in” costly support at a time when their school budget is being drastically reduced.
  • The amount (£10,000 per place) that is provided for special schools has never been reviewed and is now insufficient to meet the needs of many complex pupils who require not only additional educational support but have significant medical and personal care needs as well.
  • The notional SEND budget introduced in 2013 is formulated through a calculation based on prior attainment, free school meals and deprivation. This has nothing to do with how many pupils a school may have to be supporting on SEN Support or with an EHCP and yet every school is expected to find up to the first £6000 of additional provision for every-one of their SEND children and young people. This is funding that comes from the school’s block and is not ring-fenced so can and is being used to fill the gap that schools are seeing in their budget allocation.

We cannot forget the number of young people experiencing significant mental health issues with no access to CAMHS and the rise in the number of SEND pupils who are excluded, off-rolled or home educated.

We know from many years of research and evidence that early identification and intervention is the key to support children and yet the number of children identified in early years is still very low. Many local authorities have not been able to fully introduce the two-year development check for all children as promised by the Children and Families Act 2014.

We have seen significant closures of resourced provision or specialist bases situated at mainstream schools – what happened to inclusion?

The recent NAHT report Empty Promises: The crisis in supporting children with SEND, very clearly sets out the challenges that schools are having in meeting the needs of pupils with SEND, often

having to provide services delivered by health professionals but paid for from an education budget. This is not right at a professional, moral or ethical level.

The funding crisis in schools is not only about cuts to education budgets but also the cost to the most vulnerable children and their families of cuts to a range of critical health and social care services as well.

We urge you to re-consider the funding that is being allocated to local authorities and health services to ensure that we do not let down our most vulnerable citizens of the future.

Yours Sincerely

David Bateson OBE

Chair of National SEND Forum


We were delighted to hear that Bernadette Knill and John Ayres two of the founding Trustees of EQUALS were awarded OBEs in the 2016 New Year’s honours for their services to Special Education. Bernadette recently retired as Head Teacher at Priory Woods School.
click here to read more at Teeside News – Gazettealive.co.uk

John continues to serve as Principal of The Eden Academy.
click here to read more at West London News – Getwestlondon.co.uk

(February 2016)


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