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Temporary legislative changes relating to coronavirus (Covid-19) for parents and carers and young people with SEND

Temporary legislative changes relating to coronavirus (Covid-19) and SEND

Guidance from the Department of Education about coronavirus and SEND and what it means for children and young people with SEND

The temporary changes to the law, in force since 1 May, are extended to 31 July 2020.

Once the notice expires, the Secretary of State can issue a further notice for a period of up to a month if it would be appropriate and proportionate to do so in the context of coronavirus.

The Department for Education (DfE) has published new guidance on temporary changes to education, health and care legislation due to coronavirus.

It may affect parents and carers of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

The changes are temporary and we’ll continue to do all we can to work with you to meet your child’s needs.

The new guidance and what it means for you

The impact of coronavirus means that there may be temporary changes to the provision and processes that were in place before Covid-19.

We’ll be using what the government calls ‘reasonable endeavours’ to complete needs assessments within the statutory timescales.

Needs assessment

If your child or young person is going through the needs assessment process it may take longer, some professional assessments or information and advice will not be provided within the statutory timescales.  There may be a delay to the 20 week process.

Our SEND staff will keep you informed and updated about what this will mean to you, we’ll:

  • work hard to make sure the impact is minimal
  • work with you to find a suitable solution if information isn’t  available 
  • agree a planned way forward with you and review progress to this plan on a weekly basis if there is a delay

Education Health Care Plans (EHCP)

 If your child has an EHCP there could be some changes to the provision they receive. 

Our SEND staff are following government guidelines on social distancing and schools are only open for families of key workers. The usual way we provide EHCPs isn’t possible at the moment.

Your school or education setting will need to:

  • complete and update a risk assessment to see where your child or young person is safest, and where their needs can be best met
  • keep you up-to-date with any changes to your provision

Annual reviews of EHCPs

Annual reviews can go ahead as planned, but this may be done in a different way for example by phone or video call. 

New education setting

If your child is moving to a new education setting this should go ahead as planned. The new school will need to complete a new risk assessment to see if it’s safer for your child to be educated at home during the crisis. You should be involved in the decision making.

Your rights to appeal to tribunal or mediation aren’t affected.

Why the government has issued new legislation

The Government has legislated on SEND so that there is a balance during the coronavirus outbreak (Covid-19) between children and young people with SEND and the demands on services.

This means balancing the needs of children and young people with SEND to be protected and receive the right support in a timely way and managing the demands on local authorities (LAs) and bodies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Legal summary

In summary, two things have happened:

  • The duty on LAs or commissioning health bodies to secure or arrange the provision is temporarily changed, there is now a temporary duty to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do so
  • The SEND Coronavirus Amendment Regulations 2020, have changed regulations that give timescales that mainly relate to EHC needs assessments and plans.

Find guidance on temporary legal changes to EHC needs assessments and plans on GOV.UK.

Email your caseworker or call 0117 922 370 if you have questions about the temporary changes.