Rutland County Council answer some coronavirus- and education-related questions asked via Rutland Parent Carer Voice.
How is Rutland County Council working with families with a child with SEND to support them through these difficult times?
The summary explains that we have been calling families of children with an EHC Plan, and indeed the many other families who are open to Inclusion and Early Help too. We are making our way through these calls and have also agreed a protocol for making more frequent contact with some families, dependent upon the child’s needs. We have found the calls and emails have been well received.
If families have not received a call yet, then we will be in touch soon. The staff are working remotely but we can be contacted in the usual way; if families do have concerns then please get in touch - don’t wait for our call.
Specific risks and the impact to individual families as a result of covid-19 (or other serious illness) can be discussed with the SEND case officer and other professionals as appropriate, and an action plan can be agreed with the family. In this particular example, we would encourage families to seek support through their family network and to make a referral to social care so that we can assess the needs of the family and address these in the most appropriate way.
Until there is more specific guidance on the move from lockdown to schools being fully operational, we do not have detail about this transition back to ‘normal’ and what this might mean for families who have someone shielding for health reasons (confirmed by the GP).
However, the expectation from schools and teaching unions is that there will be some form of staggered approach to schools and early years settings being fully opened. As well as children, there may be school and settings’ staff who are also shielding a family member, or themselves, and so this will also have to be taken into consideration within any planning arrangements. But, no matter what national decisions are made in the process to re-open early years settings and schools, the LA will be working with the education sector to prepare with them and ensure that the needs of the children stay central to planning. We would expect families to follow the Government guidance once this is available.
Will there be any transition work for children who are leaving nursery, primary or secondary school, including children who don't have SEND?
Again, until we have a clearer understanding of the government’s proposals for fully re-opening schools and education settings, we do not know exactly how this will work. Nationally, there are calls for children who would typically be transitioning into Reception Class or starting secondary school to be considered carefully in the programme of re-opening. Certainly, as we move further into the summer term, we will be working with schools and early years settings to consider options available to support these year groups.
The admissions processes for starting primary school (Reception Year) and secondary school (Year 7) in September 2020 were completed as normal and within expected timescales, so all children should know which school they will be attending.
For those children and young people who have an EHC Plan or open to Early Years Inclusion, the transition arrangements that may be made will be dependent upon the impact of lockdown and social distancing requirements. However, we would generally expect that education settings will want to support a smooth transition and as far as possible in accordance with the EHCP. Parents may want to discuss this with their SEN Case Officer or Inclusion Officer.
I am concerned about the lack of differentiation and personalised work being sent home for my child who has an EHCP. What should I do?
We are aware that some parents have had some concerns over the amount of work provided by schools but know that, when this has been raised with the school itself, that this has been addressed.
In the first instance, contact the class teacher and explain the concern. It is harder for teachers to assess how well children are managing when they are planning for work to be completed remotely, so all feedback helps them to plan and prepare work to better meet need.
And, as I am sure your schools will have already explained, there isn’t an expectation from the government that children will be given or expected to complete a specific amount of work at home, and certainly not to try to match that which would have been achieved in a typical school day.
Once the lockdown has been relaxed and schools opened again, will there be extra support available to help children return to school? Children and young people would rather be at home, so they won't want to go back to school, which could cause massive issues for parents.
This again is something that I know is being discussed at a national level, and the transition for all children and young people back to full-time education is key to the education sector becoming fully operational once more.
I am expecting that the national approach to schools fully re-opening will be taking account of the fact that it will not be ‘business as usual’ on day 1, and that there will some significant challenges for some children. Some children may have been content with the home school arrangement, others will be looking forward to returning to the school environment.
We have weekly discussions with the Department for Education during which we discuss what is happening now and also start to challenge them on what support there will be for the education sector as we move back to ‘normal’. The questions raised here are similar to those we are raising with the DfE.
Has the new provision in Uppingham been allocated students yet, and will it open as planned in September?
The anticipated number of students that we had planned for the new SEND provision at Uppingham Community College have had places allocated to them. The project meetings continue virtually to steer both construction of the new provision, and more importantly to plan the opportunities to provide transition arrangements for the young people into the provision in September.
Building works on site have slowed due to a lack of building supplies, but the contractor expects that the SEND area will be available for ‘handover’ even if other works need to continue for longer. Work continues on site at this time and all indications are that the provision will open as expected.