Updates from CE SEN team: school closures & SEN team operations

20/03/2020 – PM updated information from CE Council SEND team

Please click here for pdf version of updated information from Cheshire East issued this afternoon 

Dear Parents and Carers
What we know: 
Government have now published guidance for both schools and colleges on maintaining education provision and guidance for parents and carers:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
1. Arrangements for next week
All schools and settings have been asked to be open for the normal school day where possible, some may not be able to open due to staffing implications which will not allow for safety and care of children. If possible, the Local Authority will look to broker additional staff to support the school to remain open or offer a place at an alternative school, where it is safe to do so, and the need of children can be met, and there is capacity to do so.
Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘cared for children’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
2. Transport
We expect public and school transport to continue as normal. However, we cannot guarantee the same driver as usual as they could be isolating or unwell, but we will look at retain consistency where possible. Transport will be reviewed, and may change, once we are aware of the number of children actually attending schools.
3. Vulnerable pupils
For vulnerable children who have a social worker our assumption is that these children should be attending. If any parents or carers request to keep children at home as they believe they can keep them safe social workers will assess the best option for the child.
4. EHCP Pupils

  • Schools and colleges are advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan. For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home.We have requested schools undertake this assessment and provide the local authority with details of the outcome of their assessment and confirmation of whether a place is being provided for each child. It is important to note the school will not be providing a full curriculum, they will be providing care for the children and incorporating education provision and a range of activities, but this will NOT be fully in line with their EHC provision.
  • Children being supported by tutors Where children are being supported by tutors organised the Local Authority, we will provide more information about arrangements, as soon as possible. We will not continue to offer face to face tuition but will look to provide work possibly on line and where possible support by a telephone call.

5. Local Authority ongoing SEND srvice
To support us during these unprecedented times we are requesting that:

  • You do NOT submit new needs assessment requests for EHC plans until we return to business as usual at which point guidance will be issued.
  • Any SEN queries should be emailed to SENTeamEast@cheshireeast.gov.uk. Please do not ring or contact individual workers and keep enquires to urgent matters. Calls will be forwarded to an appropriate member of the service for response and we will aim to respond within 3- 5 working days. Please do not send follow up emails.

In return we will

  • Continue to progress current needs assessment requests where we can obtain appropriate information to support the EHC Plan. However, these will be emailed to you using Egress for comment and return. We will not be undertaking any face to face meetings with children, school staff or parents.
  • We will continue to consult on schools places for September where these have not been agreed, but we may need to provide interim school places and consider change of school requests at a later date if we cannot get responses from schools.
  • We will be asking schools to continue to undertake annual reviews for SEN children but do these differently, especially for children not attending school during this period. Advice/guidance will be issued hopefully next week.

Finally
We hope this provides some more practical guidance to support the current arrangement about provision that will be available from Monday. If you have any queries, in the first instance, please discuss arrangements with the school.
In terms of complying with GDPR legislation any communications with parents are likely to be by email and if these are about individual children the Local Authority will send these through Egress.

PREVIOUS UPDATES

20/03/2020 – am: We have had the following update from Laura Rogerson (Head of SEN Cheshire East Council) which she has asked us to share with parent / carers in Cheshire East:

We will be sending out regular updates as things progress and we gain more clarity from DfE.  We have been working closely with schools, early years and post 16 settings to support in creating a forward plan for the next few weeks. As most organisations as we have a number of staff not in work and have to prioritise to support the most vulnerable children and families within the borough.  I am sure you will understand our position and work with us over the coming week.

We have sent communication to all schools and settings to clarify children that fall under the vulnerable group (as outlined by the government) and will need to access full time provisions are:

  • Those with a social worker
  • Those who are Child in Need/Child Protection
  • Cared for Children
  • EHCP

Due to these guides we have confirmed with all schools and settings that they need to be open for normal schools hours next week and should expect all children who fall into the categories above to attend.

Due to schools staffing and capacity we explained that full curriculum offers will not be in place in schools, from next week these will be offers of provisions (content of school day will be more flexible and defined by each school but will unlikely be set timetables of core curriculum).  We are seeking further clarity on what would normally fall under legal requirements and statutory obligations with regards to children’s EHCPs.

Some schools are feeding back to us that some parents do not wish for their children to be in school, again we are seeking clarity from DfE regarding attendance requirements of children they have identified to be in school.

We do not currently have a definition of Key Worker from the DfE but we are anticipating that there will be flexibility for local areas to determine some of these roles.  You will need to be mindful organisations may be redeploying some staff to cover Key Worker roles over time, so this is by no means straight forward.

[How the SEN team will operate during this period of time]

To support us during this period of time we are requesting that:

  1. You do NOT submit new needs assessment requests for EHC plans until we return to business as usual at which point guidance will be issued.
  2. Any SEN queries should be emailed to SENTeamEast@cheshireeast.gov.uk.  Please do not ring or contact individual workers and keep enquires to urgent matters.  Calls will be forwarded to an appropriate member of the service for response and we will aim to respond within 3- 5 working days.  Please do not send follow up emails.
  3. Council staff are following Public health England guides and will not be attending face to face meetings,  but can set up video/telephone conference for essential meetings therefore we are asking that all non-essential meetings at this time are postponed and rearranged.
  4. The council needs to ensure GDPR guidelines are adhered to and therefor communication via email to parents will be through egress.

In return we will

  1. Continue to progress current needs assessment requests where we can obtain appropriate information to support the EHC Plan.  However, these will be emailed to you using Egress for comment and return.  We will not be undertaking any face to face meetings with children, school staff or parents.
  2. We will continue to consult on schools places for September where these have not been agreed, but we may need to provide interim school places and consider change of school requests at a later date if we cannot get responses from schools
  3. We are looking at how we can continue to undertake annual reviews for SEN children but do these differently.  Advise/guidance will be issued.

We are aware that services may not be carried out in a code compliant nature, but we are looking to provide the best service possible.

I am sure there will be many additional queries and we will continue to issue updates through Parent Carer Forum, dependant on their ability/capacity to load details on their website, as I am sure you will appreciate, they will have increased childcare priorities.  We will also distribute messages through Cheshire East Information advice and service, again dependent on staffing.  Finally, we will post updates on Cheshire East Website, preferably through SENDING the NEWS and supply updates through schools who should be maintaining regular contact with you.

Thank you again for your understanding and support during these unprecedented  times

Regards Laura

You can also click here to find more information about the government’s guidance for parents and carers, and click here for a statement from IPSEA’s update on COVID-19, school closure and SEN provision

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