The majority of children and staff have now returned to their early years providers, school or colleges. Schools have worked hard to support children and young people back into school. They realise that, for some students, this support will need to continue.

This last year has been a time of difficulty and worry for many people, including our SEND families. Some family members will have been working throughout the Covid situation over the last year, whilst others have been caring for and supporting their children’s significant needs, sometimes without the usual amount of support. For other families, their children have been able to access their school.

We recognise the incredible support that SEND families have given to their own children, children in other families and each other during this time. We are sorry for inconveniences to families because council, schools and health services had to change their ways of working because of the Coronavirus situation. Many staff are still working from home.

Government advice

The government has updated its Coronavirus guidance for schools and guidance for special schools and alternative provision settings.

Children who should be going to school

Schools have now reopened to the majority of students.

Pupils, staff and other adults must not come into the school if:

  • they have one or more coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms · someone in their household, support bubble or childcare bubble has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
  • they need to quarantine after visiting another country
  • they have had a positive test
  • have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Wearing masks

From 17th May, the government guidance will change for all schools and providers. From that date, face coverings are not recommended for pupils and students in classrooms or communal areas. Face coverings will also not be recommended for staff in classrooms. Staff and visitors should continue to wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas if they can't socially distance.

Children and staff who have been shielding

Shielding guidance changed for clinically extremely vulnerable people (CEV) on 1 April. Since then:

  • unless a paediatric or other specialist care professional recommends they don't attend, CEV children should go to their early years provision, school, college, wraparound childcare and out-of-school settings.
  • advice for CEV staff is that they should continue to work from home where possible. If they cannot work from home, they should now attend their workplace.

Testing children for Covid-19

Secondary schools will offer pupils testing on site. Test kits are also available for home testing. Testing is voluntary, but strongly encouraged. Pupils in primary schools will not be tested. In specialist settings, a parent or carer must give informed before a child or young person is tested .

Testing twice a week is strongly recommended to help manage the spread of coronavirus. You can order Covid lateral flow tests to be delivered to you.

Children and young people must immediately go/stay at home and not go to school for at least 10 days if:

  • they start having Coronavirus symptoms
  • they have a positive lateral flow test.

If a student has a positive rapid test, they need to have a PCR test within two days of the positive lateral flow test. Other pupils, students and staff and other people they have been in close contact with should self-isolate until the PCR test result is known. If the PCR test is negative, pupils, students and staff can return to school or college. Close contacts and other household members can also stop self-isolating. If the PCR test result is positive, the child or young person, staff and close contacts should follow NHS advice on isolation.

Giving children the support they need

Our schools are confident they can give children with SEND the support they need. This includes when they have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. They have been working hard to look at where their students are in their learning and will use this information to plan learning going forward.

Teachers will use these assessments to plan the right support for each pupil. This reflects that pupils’ experiences will have varied over the last year. Schools are focusing on a range of appropriate strategies including:

  • Quality First Teaching
  • Targeted intervention
  • Extra 1:1 or support in small groups. This could include extra support using special funding from the government
  • Wellbeing Provision
  • Transition into their next school year. Key information about a pupil’s learning and experiences in the last year will help plan the next phase of their learning journey

Read more on our Curriculum Recovery Factsheet.

Staff from specialist support services (eg from the Brighton and Hove Inclusion Support Service (BHISS) or health) can come into school to see children and young people. If you have concerns about the support your child’s school is giving them, please speak with their Classteacher/Head of Year or SENCO.

The council continues to be responsible for making sure a child receives the provision written into their EHC plan. Each child must get this support apart from in exceptional circumstances.

Support for students with SEND in Year 11

Students in Year 11 do not have to go to school after they finish their last exam or after the end of June. If they want to keep going to school until the end of term, they can. The council will fund schools to support those young people that keep going to school between the end of June and the end of term.

Schools’ will focus on meaningful activities to help pupils with the transition to their placement after the summer. They will be teaching these skills instead of teaching the normal timetable.

If families want their child or young to go to school in July, they must please speak to their SENCO before the end of May. This is so schools have the time to plan the activities needed. The student will need to say that they would like to take advantage of this opportunity instead of leaving school with their peers. See the open letter to SEND families by Georgina Clarke-Green, Assistant Director for Health, SEN & Disability at the Council.