Children with complex disabilities and their families are being denied essential support, with schools and local authorities citing COVID-19 guidance as a reason for preventing attendance at special schools, it has been reported in The Times. Many families that have contacted our firm for advice are in a similar position, with SEND children suffering the consequences of a dramatic reduction in support from schools. Furthermore, we have heard that many schools are relying on online resources to enable parents to home school, which are simply not accessible or suitable for many SEND students.
Confusion has been caused by the emergency coronavirus regulations that called on local authorities to make “reasonable endeavours” to meet children’s special education and health needs, while at the same time, the government called for all children with an EHCP to be supported to go into school. Many parents feel that local authorities and schools. One parent quoted in the article felt that local authorities “are hiding behind the guidelines, under which they are basically allowed to do as little as possible”. This has left families already under strain to provide specialist support that would ordinarily be provided by school staff. For SEND children, the disruption caused to their daily routine has had severe repercussions, leading to a decline in positive behaviour and both physical and mental health.
With the government’s extension of temporary modifications to section 42 of the Children and Families act 2014 to 31 July 2020, this is in issue that will not be resolved before the end of the academic year. The government has the power to further extend the modification of local authority duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 and parents fear that such an extension into the next academic year, will have continuing and profound consequences for all SEND children.
This article was written by Louise Plumstead