Children with SEND Left Behind as Schools Reopen

Author:
Samantha Hale
Partner, Education & Community Care Solicitor
Date:
28/10/2020

The coronavirus pandemic meant that many children were out of school from March until September this year, so the return to school was never expected to be easy. But for some children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), going back to school has been even harder if not completely impossible.

Recent statistics published by the UK Government showed that:

  • 89% of all children were in attendance at school, which is a slight reduction on statistics published earlier in the school year
  • Only 81% of children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) were in attendance at school earlier in the school year, although this statistic hasn’t been updated
  • 46% of state-funded secondary schools have reported that children have self-isolated due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school

This shows that while many children have been able to go back to school, significantly less children with EHCPs have been able to return to school in the same way.

This could be because schools are struggling to implement EHCPs while also sticking to the coronavirus restrictions or due to concerns that it is not safe for them to be in attendance. For example, where children may be vulnerable, the infection rates are putting them at further risk and especially if public transport is a part of their EHCP.

If your child has been unable to return to school because the correct provision is not being provided, or coronavirus has interfered with the implementation of their EHCP, we may be able to help you.

The pandemic has affected many public bodies, but there remains a duty to make sure that children with SEND can still access their education. If you feel that this is not the case for your child, get in touch with our Education Lawyers.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Why Children with SEND are Absent from School

Every child is different and there are a variety reasons why children with SEND are struggling to go to school at the moment.

Some examples of why children with EHCPs are out of school include:

  • Some SEN Hubs are still closed as they bring different year groups together, which is not allowed under the coronavirus school guidelines
  • Provision such as having 1 on 1 help may be difficult in schools that don’t have the facilities now that classroom structures have changed
  • Exclusion rates are higher for children with SEND, and adapting to a pandemic and a different school system can be difficult for some children who already struggle when out of routine
  • Where children are having to shield because their disabilities make them vulnerable

What You Can Do

Although schools have had to change the ways in which they do some things, their duties to provide provision for children who need it remains the same.

If your child has been excluded because they’re struggling to get back into a school routine or adjust to the changes in school due to coronavirus, you should speak to your school to see if they’re offering your child as much support as they can.

If you think your school has unfairly excluded your child, or not taken their SEND into consideration, then our Education Lawyers could help you.

You should contact your Local Authority if your child’s EHCP includes measures that the child’s school can’t currently provide under coronavirus guidelines. If they do not resolve the issue or are taking too long to get back to you then our Education Lawyers can help you.

We can help you to appeal to the SEND Tribunal and we can offer you legal advice where you need it and represent you at the Tribunal Hearing if you would like us to.

We understand how isolating it can feel for your child to stay at home while most children can attend school freely, so we will do everything we can to help your child access the education they’re entitled to.

For legal advice call our Education Solicitors

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