18 November: guidance given to schools by the Education Leadership Team
18 November, 4.30pm
Here's a run down of the key topics from the twice-weekly update schools receive from our Education Leadership Team (from over the last week):
- DfE devices for clinically extremely vulnerable children: as clinically extremely vulnerable children have been told to shield, we have reminded schools that they can order devices specifically for them to support these pupils with remote learning. It is also possible for schools to request a device if they have a pupil that lives in a household that has been advised to shield because a family member is clinically extremely vulnerable. Schools can get devices for clinically extremely vulnerable children in any year group, and community/ maintained schools request these via Hertfordshire County Council. Other schools need to request devices directly from the DfE.
- Cleaning within education settings: As we know regular cleaning plays a vital role in limiting the transmission of COVID-19 and we have reminded schools of the following: Ensure a clear cleaning schedule is in place, both for school staff during the school day and for contracted cleaners; take any further opportunities to reduce clutter and remove difficult to clean items; where it is known a person with symptoms of COVID-19 has been on site, it’s important that any surfaces they may have touched are cleaned and disinfected using disposable cleaning materials.
Read the gov.uk guidance on cleaning education settings
- Sharing information across settings about positive cases: Sometimes children and staff from one household may have a connection to another education setting other than your own, either through siblings, as part of a sixth form consortium or because a partner works in education/with children. It is the parent or staff member’s responsibly to update close contacts when they know of a positive test result however, if you know there is a connection outside of your setting please make contact with the senior team and share what you know in confidence. Confirming a positive case with another education provider for this reason is not breaking GDPR as it is in the public health interest to do so and will help to reduce the spread of the virus.
- Private testing: You may have been contacted by private companies selling testing services. Just to clarify, these are not connected to the NHS Test and Trace service and so, if you use these there is no mechanism to feed into the national system or process. You will have no support to reach close contacts of positive cases if you use a private testing service so please do consider this carefully before making these arrangements. We also know that the previous issues identified with access to NHS testing have now been resolved and so accessing tests should be quick and simple.
12 November - guidance given to schools by the Education Leadership Team
12 November, 4.44pm
Here's a run down of the key topics from the twice-weekly update schools receive from our Education Leadership Team (from over the last 2 weeks):
- Face covering guidance in schools following national restrictions (5 November - 2 December): The DfE have shared updated guidance for education and childcare settings. Face coverings are now compulsory for both adults and students in shared spaces when moving around the building where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, such as corridors (unless exempt). This is for students in Year’s 7 and above. It remains at the discretion of primary schools, whether they choose to follow this guidance for face coverings for their staff and visitors in the same way.
- Just Talk Week – 16-22 November: Hertfordshire’s Just Talk Week, which focuses on positive mental health and stories of hope, will be taking place from 16-22 November. It’s more important than ever that we make sure that every young person knows how to look after their mental health and can access support if they need it. To make it as easy as possible for you to get involved, this year’s campaign week is entirely online. Students can access a range of FREE resources, including a short film, new Five Ways to Wellbeing e-learning, booking information for a range of webinars during Just Talk Week and a design competition for Year 6 - 8 students.
- Face coverings and travelling to school: By law, young people aged 11 and over must wear a face covering on public transport (unless exempt). This law does not apply to dedicated school transport. However, we strongly advise people aged 11 and over to wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary school or college from the start of the autumn term (unless exempt).
Guidance for families and carers of adults (18+) with Down's Syndrome
The government have added adults with Down's Syndrome (aged 18 and over) to their list of people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. This means that adults with Down's Syndrome and their carer's are advised to follow the government guidance for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
This guidance applies to same period as the new national restrictions - from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December.
What about young people under 18 who have Down's Syndrome?
Any person aged 17 or under who has Down’s Syndrome, is not regarded as automatically clinically extremely vulnerable. Children and young people at "high risk" will continue to be identified based on guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
Each child or adult who is clinically extremely vulnerable has their own set of individual circumstances. Some individuals may still benefit from being in their school or community. So the below is only guidance, to be used at your discretion.
If you are an adult with Down's Syndrome:
- You should not go to your workplace, college or day centre
- You can still go out to get excercise or go to health appointments
- If you have a problem with your health you can still get help - you can access some NHS services from home, including ordering repeat prescriptions or having a telephone or video call with your GP.
- You should not go out to the shops. If you need help to get shopping there are services you can use. We have listed these below under the 'support' heading.
If you live with, or are a carer for someone with Down's Syndrome:
- You do not need to shield or self-isolate - just take extra care to folow the national restrictions guidance for the general population, and practice social distancing unless you need to make close or personal contact provide care.
- If it is not possible for you to work from home, and you are not classified as clinically extremely vulnerable, you can still go to work.
- If you need additional support to provide the level of care required, then please contact your named social worker or the local Adult Social Care team. We can complete a carer's assessment and look at support we can offer you and your loved one.
Support with shopping
1. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable, or their carer, can register to a new online service to:
- Request priority access to supermarket delivery slots (if you have already got priority supermarket deliveries, you’ll keep them).
- Tell the council if you need support, if it cannot be provided by friends, family or other support networks.
- Update your details, for example, your address.
You’ll be asked for your NHS number. You can find it on any letter the NHS has sent you, or on a prescription.
2. If you cannot access food, HertsHelp can look for help in your local area and get someone to come out to you if you are unable to go to the shops or pharmacy yourself. Please call 0300 123 4044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can use our online form to tell us about someone who needs help too.
Support with mental health
Contact your GP, named social worker or the local adult social care team. You can also contact the Mental Health Helpline on 0800 6444 101, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you or someone you care for is experiencing a mental health crisis, you can access our team of mental health professionals directly via the NHS 111 service. Select Option 2 for mental health services, which will automatically direct you to the 24/7 helpline team.
Mind Network has also launched the Hertfordshire Crisis Helpline - 01923 256391 - which runs 24 hours a day and is available for anyone in Hertfordshire who wants to call to talk things through.
Support with Social Care
HertsHelp is available for everyone and will give advice and support on things like getting shopping, advice on money, help with using the internet and how to find a support group if you are isolated. Call them on 0300 123 4044 or visit the Hertshelp website.
Contact your named social worker or the local adult social care team for advice and support.
If you need urgent assistance, please call us on 0300 123 4042.
6 November 2020, 1.27pm
- Children and Young People’s Therapy Service (including speech and langage therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy): Following the announcement of national restrictions, there is currently no change to the service. We are continuing to comply with social distancing measures when delivering appointments, using a virtual first approach.
- Short Breaks Local Offer: Physical SBLO sessions are running with reduced capacity due to social distancing measures. SEN Ventures' Saturday Clubs are cancelled during November due to shielding. Virtual SBLO sessions are available with some providers. Further information on the activities available.
- Overnight Short Breaks: All 3 Overnight Short Breaks settings are open with reduced capacity due to social distancing measures.
- Homecare: Homecare is such an important service for the wellbeing of SEND children and young people and families across Hertfordshire and our homecare agencies continue to provide a service in these very challenging and difficult times.
4 November - guidance given to schools by the Education Leadership Team
4 November 2020, 1.30pm
Here's a run down of the key topics from the twice-weekly update schools receive from our Education Leadership Team (from over the last week):
- National restrictions from Thursday 5 November: As you will be aware the Government has announced further national restrictions due to begin Thursday 5 November. The DfE will be publishing guidance about what additional measures might be put in place for schools, including guidance on extremely vulnerable children.
- School attendance data and how COVID-related absences are recorded: When a pupil is out of school for COVID-related reasons, schools record this on their register as 'Code X'. Code X is not counted as an absence in the school census, meaning your child's attendance won't be affected by COVID-related absences. Examples of COVID-related absence would include:
- Students having to self-isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19
- Students having to self-isolate if they have been identified as a close contact of someone that has tested positive for COVID-19 (this will include if a school has had to shut or partially shut due to COVID-19)
- Students who are required by legislation to self-isolate as part of a period of quarantine, for example if they've travelled to a country not included in the travel corridors
- Students who are clinically extremely vulnerable in a future lockdown scenario.
Read the national guidance on attendance for more information.
26 October - guidance given to schools by the Education Leadership Team
26 October 2020, 1.30pm
Here's a run down of the key topics from the twice-weekly update schools receive from our Education Leadership Team (from over the last week):
- Schools bordering tier 2 areas: both Essex and London are now under tier 2 restrictions and classified as areas of high risk. Many Hertfordshire schools will have students and staff living in and travelling to and from these high-risk areas. Schools will still be operating as normal and so we expect staff to come to work as usual, unless they are self-isolating, with the same applying to students. School staff who are travelling from tier 2 areas will take extra measures to keep their school safe, such as reconsidering their travel arrangements. Find the latest guidance for each tier on gov.uk.
- Face coverings in schools with local restrictions: DfE have suggested that secondary schools and colleges in tier 2 (high Covid risk) or 3 (very high Covid risk) areas should take extra precautionary measures. When an area moves to tier 2 or 3, face coverings will become mandatory (unless exempt) when moving around in communal areas such as corridors where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
It will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may hinder teaching and learning. Further guidance can be found at Face coverings in education - GOV.UK.
- Parents and carers that are self isolating: If you are a parent or carer and have been asked to self-isolate as part of a bubble at work or because you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus – you must follow the national self-isolation guidance and stay at home for 10 days:
- This applies even if you have no symptoms and/or you have received a negative test result as it can take 10 days for transmission
- Self-isolation rules do not apply to the rest of your household, they can still attend work or school and complete day to day tasks in line with government guidance
- If you develop symptoms while self-isolating, your entire household must begin self-isolating immediately
- If you would normally travel with your child(ren) to nursery, school or college, alternative travel arrangements should be made
- If you cannot make alternative travel arrangements for your child(ren), then they too must stay at home. Please contact your school or education setting directly for advice on remote learning in this situation.
15 October - guidance given to schools by the Education Leadership Team
15 October 2020 8.50am
Here's a run down of the key topics from the twice-weekly update schools receive from our Education Leadership Team (from over the last 2 weeks):
- Headteachers are asked to remind staff and families to stay informed about travel advice and quarantine rules, if they are planning to travel during half term. The list of travel corridors (places you can go to where you may not have to self-isolate) is continuously changing. Check the latest travel exemption list on gov.uk. Any staff or students who travel to a location outside of the approved travel corridor will need to self-isolate at home for 10 days on their arrival back into the UK.
- Schools can now apply for a Fixed Penalty Notice for children who are not attending school due to a non-Covid-19 related reason. For example, for an unauthorised holiday, or if a parent refuses to agree that a child returns to school. Schools have to discuss any applications for a penalty notice with our (Hertfordshire County Council) Attendance Team; they will share information and explore all possible support that could be given to the family before an application is submitted. The Attendance Team will not process any penalty notice application where they have not had a conversation with the school first, and they will also contact the family for their perspective.There's more information about attendance policy on The Grid.
- Some schools have been asking about attendance data, and based on the data from DfE which schools are asked to fill out every day, attendance is looking positive. Attendance in Hertfordshire on 7 October was at 92%.
- Schools have been asked to remind parents that if a child attends school while experiencing covid symptoms, or whilst a family member they live with experiences symptoms, this is breaking the law, and they could be fined up to £1000. Gov.uk has more information on the new legal duty to self-isolate.
Managing multiple bubbles for children attending Overnight Short Breaks (OSB) and Short Breaks Local Offer (SBLO)
2 October 2020, 1pm
We know how important overnight and short breaks are to families and we have been working hard with our providers to ensure that they are as available and accessible to families as possible. It may not be possible for OSB and SBLO providers to keep children in the same bubble they are in during the school day, so we are asking providers to put in place other ways to minimise the risk of transmission of Coronavirus.
We also ask parents and carers to consider carefully the number of settings their child attends overall in order to prevent their child from mixing with multiple different groups of children.
The OSB and SBLO Providers have put the following COVID-19 protective measures in place, which are based on the government's guidance for providers of holiday and after school clubs.
- Staying away from Overnight Short Breaks and Short Breaks Local Offer settings if any of the following apply:
- 1. themselves or a member of their family has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19
- 2. they have been advised by NHS Test and Trace to isolate at home
- using the same staffing within groups of children
- encouraging staff and children to clean their hands more often than usual
- ensuring good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
- cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often
- cleaning of toilets and washrooms more often
- changing the environment to allow for social distancing between children
- keeping children in small bubbles of 15 children or less
- Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when providing personal care. Providers have been trained in infection control and correct use of PPE
- The OSB premises are deep cleaned regularly, and individual bedrooms are deep cleaned after each stay. All non-essential items, such as soft toys and cushions have been put away, to minimise risk from contaminated surfaces. Hand sanitiser dispensers are included in different areas for quick access to both staff, children and essential external visitors
- Providers will keep family contact details so that if needed Test and Trace can happen quickly
Catch-up funding for schools
2 October 2020, 10am
What is it?
The government has announced that funding will be available to schools (during the academic year 2020 - 2021), to help make up for lost teaching time caused by the disruption of the Coronavirus pandemic. ALL schools will receive this directly from the Department of Education.
How much money will schools receive?
- funding will be calculated on the number of pupils.
- every mainstream school will be given £80 per pupil.
- special schools will be given £240 per pupil.
What can schools spend this money on?
- each school gets to decide how to spend the funding.
- it could be spent on things like extra tuition, therapies or training for staff.
- in order to understand how you school is spending the funding money, you should contact the school directly.
An update from The Children and Young People's Integrated Therapies Service
9 September, 10am
Our therapy staff have now returned from their redeployed roles and can now contact more families and offer more appointments. Along with the Advice Line they are delivering support in an number of ways, including virtually.
Visit the HCT website to see more about what Integrated Therapies are delivering.
Advice Line: 01992 823 093
Please leave a message and a therapist will contact you.
Information about home to school transport from September
The transport team recently emailed all schools and parents of children who are entitled to home to school transport to let them know what to expect for the return to school.
- All transport will run as normal from September, including taxis and minibuses to special schools.
- Social distancing is not required, but if your child attends a special school your transport provider will contact you about the safety measures they've put in place to maximise pupil safety.
- If you would prefer to take your child to school yourself, the transport team are still offering personal transport budgets, which covers 4 daily home to school car journeys at 45p per mile. Equally, if you have been receiving a personal transport budget but would like to return to arranged transport, you are welcome to request this. There may be a slight period of notice needed to set up your transport.
Advice for children and young people about returning to school if you have been shielding
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has created some category guidelines to help you decide whether your child or young person should go back to school after they have been shielding.
Those who should not return to school
Your child or young person should not return to school, even if their year group has, if they are determined to be ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. This decision would have been made when shielding began and more information including the shielded patient list can be found on the NHS Digital Website.
Those who can consider returning to school
If your child or young person is under the care of a specialist consultant for an underlying health condition, you may wish to speak to their treating teams about the possibility of returning to school. Treating teams can help balance the potential risks and any anxiety you may have around the return to school.
Those who no longer need to shield and can return to school
If your child or young people is cared for just by their GP, they are very unlikely to need to continue to shield and are overwhelmingly likely to benefit from returning to school when their year group does.
Covid Summer Food Fund
29 June 2020, 12pm
The Covid Summer Food Fund will provide support for children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals (FSM), over the summer holidays.
Please also note the temporary extension of free school meals.
If you are eligible:
- If your child or young person is eligible for free school meals, you will receive a £90 voucher to cover the summer holiday period.
- Schools must order the voucher at least one week before the school term ends and it will be issued to families within seven days, unless a specified distribution date has been agreed for a date in the future.
- We recognise a single £90 voucher may not be suitable for all families, so schools have the discretion to schedule a number of smaller vouchers instead.
More information on vouchers and eCodes
In all circumstances, a voucher must be issued to the family before the end of the school term. This will enable staff to identify if a family hasn’t received their eCode and resolve the issue before the holidays begin.
If smaller vouchers have been scheduled, the last of these must be delivered by 14th August.
We encourage schools to use the Edenred system where possible. Many schools are familiar with the system and the process of converting eCodes to eGift cards, but it is worth noting:
- The eCode must be redeemed into an eGift card before it is used in store, and Edenred have developed a visual guide to support schools and families through this process.
- Schools should take particular care if emailing the eCode to the family directly from the Edenred system. If they enter an incorrect email address, they will need to cancel the eCode and order a new one.
- Some supermarkets have a maximum limit of £200 for each eGift card (full details on Page 13 of the admin user guide), so schools should order separate eCodes for families with more than 2 eligible children.
Face Covering Exemption Cards
19 June, 4pm
Face coverings have now become compulsory when using public transport, and in a number of public settings, to help keep yourself and others safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you have a health problem or disability and are unable to wear a face covering, you can download or print one of our exemption cards.
Offer of mileage reimbursement from the SEND Transport Team
For the past 10 weeks we have been transporting vulnerable children and the children of keyworkers to school and doing our best to ensure appropriate social distancing. Now that more children are returning to school this will become more of a challenge.
If your children have an EHCP and are entitled to home to school transport, you might have concerns about their transport, especially if they travel with others in a taxi, small vehicle or minibus, where it is hard to maintain social distancing. As an alternative, we would like to offer you mileage reimbursement, if you would prefer to transport your own children to school. We pay reimbursement at a rate of 0.45p per mile for 4 journeys per day (to school in the morning and home in the afternoon). We will calculate the mileage of your journey along public roads from your home to your school.
How will I know if/ when my child is going back to school?
On 11 May the government announced that schools would be opening for nursery aged children, reception, year 1 and year 6 on 1 June. Children with EHCPs are also expected to start to return to school. However, it won't be possible for most schools to have all of their pupils back full time and all at once by this date. Your school will let you know their individual plan for returning pupils to the classroom between now and 1 June. You should not take your child in to school until your school confirms you may do so.
Considering this offer and the next steps
We encourage you to seriously consider this offer and if it is possible for you, to take your own children to school.
If you would like to accept this offer of reimbursement please email the SEN Transport Team - email@example.com:
Date of birth
Please title your email “Mileage Reimbursement”.
The team will respond and provide you with the necessary form to claim mileage.
Latest NHS hospital visitation guidance
16 June 2020, 4pm
The national suspension on visitation in hospitals and other healthcare settings has now been lifted by the NHS and new guidance has been issued in its place.
The new guidance provides advice on how different healthcare settings may approach visitation, whilst always bearing in mind the safety of patients, communities, individuals and teams.
Resonable endeavours has ended: this means that if you have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), you can expect to receive all of the support outlined in your plan again. The way that some of the support is delivered might still have changed a little from how it was in order to ensure everyone's safety.
Seeking urgent medical support if your child becomes unwell
It's important to seek urgent medical care if your child needs it. There is a lot of pressure to stay at home right now, but if your child becomes unwell and you feel they need urgent medical care, don't delay in getting help. Use your judgement and don't let symptoms worsen before you choose to get help.
If you have serious concerns about your child's health, contact your GP or go to the paediatric emergency department if it is needed.
This message is relevant to all families, and especially for those who have a child/ children with complex medical needs.
Together for Short Lives, a UK children's palliative care charity, has put together a statement over their concerns that families may be unsure about when to get help for their children during this time when we are advised to stay at home. They advise that in most cases, children with complex and life-limiting conditions are not at additional risk from COVID-19, however they may be at higher risk if they do not receive help for treatable complications of their underlying condition.
Dr Hilary Cass OBE, Chair of Together for Short Lives said:
“We know that everyone is trying to do the right thing by staying at home during the coronavirus crisis. However, we are very worried parents caring for children with life-limiting conditions might be too frightened to seek urgent medical help.
I’m sending a very clear message to every family caring for these children. You know your child better than anyone else, and if you think your child is unwell or deteriorating you must seek medical help. Doctors will want to make sure that your child is treated before their condition worsens.
Whilst it’s vital that families seek help is their child becomes unwell, it’s important that people shouldn’t present at A&E with minor ailments."
Government to provide £37.3m in Funding for grants for low income SEND families
The Government today announced that the Family Fund will receive funding of £37.3m in 2020-21. This includes £10m which has been allocated to help families in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Family Fund provides grants to families on low incomes who have disabilities or severe medical conditions to help with the cost of equipment, goods or services - from washing machines and refrigerators to sensory and educational equipment that they might not otherwise be able to afford. The grants are typically worth £400 to £500 per family, but vary depending on need
Information about Direct Payments
The government has issued guidance for Direct Payment users and Personal Assistants; whilst this is written with a focus on adults, it is relevant to children too.
Our children and young people SEND brokerage team have created an FAQ to explain this guidance and to and reflect decisions made by Hertfordshire which may differ from the government guidance.
Benefits and financial advice for people affected by coronavirus
Hertfordshire County Council's Money Advice Unit has a factsheet on the financial and benefits aspects of coronavirus. For more updated factsheets on benefits for children with a disability, carers, PIP, etc, visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/benefits
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in schools and education settings and guidance from Public Health England
From 6 April we are delivering a Personal Protective Equipment pack to early years providers, schools and special schools who are providing care during the Easter holiday period. Education providers that are only open during term time will get a PPE pack delivery on the week beginning 27 April.
The PPE packs include:
- 50 fluid resistant masks
- 100 pairs gloves
- 100 aprons
- Roll of 50 clinical waste bags
- 500ml bottle sanitiser
- 5l disinfectant
We are also allocating PPE to these children's services and staff:
- Children’s Services staff who need to deliver services directly to a child/ young person with a known case of COVID-19
- Semi-independent provision for 16+ year olds
- Residential provision
- Two taxi companies who have agreed to transport children and young people who have symptoms of COVID-19
Sally Orr -Head of Family Support and Health Commissioning
What is the guidance from Public Health England (PHE)?
The current advice from Public Heath England for workers is that they don't require PPE if they work in a place with access to hand washing facilities, or hand sanitiser. The exception to this is if they are working with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, and they cannot undertake their work without keeping 2 metres away from them.
The way we allocate PPE is based on this guidance.
Statutory processes around Education, Health and Care Plans
We know how important the Needs assessment process is for families and so we are continuing to work within the statutory guidance during this crisis.
- The Coronavirus Act 2020 (The Act) which became law on 25 March 2020 includes temporary emergency powers which allow for the modification of legal obligations imposed on local authorities in fulfilling their duties around EHCPs. These powers allow for the timescales for undertaking EHCP processes to be modified. These modifications will only apply if the Secretary of State for Education issues a notice in accordance with the Act. At the time of writing (7 April 2020) no notice has been issued and as such all of Hertfordshire County Council's legal obligations under the Children and Families Act 2014 remain in force.
- We (Hertfordshire County Council) will not be making any "blanket" changes and will continue to work within the legal timescales for EHC needs assessments and plans.
- However, we do expect that all of our teams have a reduced level of capability due to staff illness and/or redeployment to essential services; so some flexibility may be necessary in individual cases, and your child's SEND Officer/ team will be in contact with you if your child's case is affected.
- Integrated Services for Learning and the 0 - 25 Together Service are working together to support the most vulnerable children and families through flexible arrangements. You can call Contact line in the first instance to learn more about this and get advice (Mon - Fri | 10am - 4.30pm: 01992 588 574).
If the Secretary of State issues a formal notice under the Act leading to a change in our current approach – we will of course keep you informed.
- Where new assessments are requested, we will request advice from our partner agencies as normal. It's important to understand, however, that at this time the information received back may be limited, or less detailed than we would usually expect - particularly health information due to the current pressures on our NHS colleagues.
- We will continue to work towards completing the EHC process, making decisions based on the information that is currently available to us.
- Some parents have asked us to 'pause' their statutory process. If you would prefer to 'pause' your statutory assessment too, please contact your SEND officer and let them know. We will record your request, and you can ask for the statutory process to be re-started at whatever point you wish to pick up again.
- The SEND team are available by phone and you can contact your officer between 10am - 2pm Monday to Friday.
- Our Specialist Advisory Teachers and our Education Psychology colleagues will continue to write reports based on what they know of your child, and where possible, they will carry out assessments virtually, using video calls. The therapists are involved in front line support during this crisis, so existing reports will be used to inform plans. However, where a child is not known to services, this will be explained to parents, and where a report has been prepared using limited information, it will include a caveat to that effect. We will then continue to draft the plan and work to the normal 20 weeks statutory timelines - unless we are given permission from the government to pause the process.
- In order to ensure you can contribute in person to the plan, we will hold planning meetings with you virtually, but this will be you and your family's choice.
- KIDS SEN Mediation Service are currently using "Zoom” video conferencing for mediation video calls. In the event that it is necessary to have a case considered by the Tribunals – they will make the necessary arrangements, but you will need to have access to Microsoft Edge Internet browser.
Provision and reviews
- Annual reviews will continue as planned where possible. Schools and colleges can use virtual tools to set up meetings. Your school or college will be in touch with you about reviews that are coming up.
- If you would prefer to delay your annual review, you can do so by contacting your SEND officer. We will record this and you can ask for it to be re-started at whatever point you wish to pick up again.
- For those who currently have EHC plans, there has been a process of identifying the most vulnerable children and working with schools and families to meet needs as far as possible.
- If a plan has been agreed for your child and the final is sent out, we will continue to meet the needs as specified. If, however, the Secretary of State issues a notice under the Coronavirus Act 2020 this obligation will be reduced to one of "reasonable endeavours", which means that we will try our best to deliver the services specified, but it may not be practical to deliver everything.
Children moving school in September
We understand that it will be a particularly stressful time for you if your child is due to move schools in September.
- Most children will have a school named for September in their EHC plan; and transition planning will start as usual for these children over the following terms. As we don't yet know how long children will be out of school, SEND management will continue monitoring the situation and you will be kept up to date as the transition nears. We have plans in place to ensure all children will have appropriate support through the time of transition.
- If your child’s EHC plan does not have a school named for September, services will continue working with families on a case by case basis to make this happen, and you should expect to hear from your SEND officer over the coming term.
The SEND team are available by phone and you can contact your officer between 10am - 2pm Monday to Friday.
Ending a plan
The ceasing of plans, will follow the same process as always, ensuring provision going forward is the right provision in line with the work for Preparing for Adulthood. We have a contingency plan in place to ensure the transition to adult services continues.
Attendance advice from the Department for Education
In view of updated attendance advice from the Department for Education on 22nd March, Hertfordshire County Council has decided:
- To suspend any penalty notice or prosecutions for Covid-19 related absence with immediate effect.
- Not to take forward any new cases.
Attendance advice from the Department for Education published by Hertfordshire's Local Offer on 26.03.2020 read:
- The Secretary of State has let schools know they will not be penalised for the impact on school attendance as a result of the Covid-19.
- No absence data from the academic year 2019-20 will be published in the school and college performance tables.
- The Secretary of State has written to Directors of Children's Services, to tell them that no parent should be penalised for their child's non-attendance due to Covid-19. In that letter, local authorities have been asked to suspend any penalty notice action or prosecutions for Covid-19 related absence with immediate effect. New cases should not be taken forward and any cases from 16th March should be withdrawn.
KIDS hub have stated:
"In line with current Government guidance aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, the KIDS Hubs will be closed to visitors until further notice. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.
Although we’re not open to personal callers, the KIDS Hub service is not closed and as usual we are available to provide support and information to families with children and young people with SEND.
Our Toy and Equipment Library Stay and Play sessions will not be taking place but we will still be able to help with the lending or return of items.
If you would like to get in contact with us please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org"
Our partners at Herts Help are coordinating support for all vulnerable people in the county who are struggling to get medication and food during the coronavirus outbreak.
This service will aim to help all people who are struggling, not just for those who are self-isolating. This includes families who are struggling because of the needs of their children – whether that be due to shielding a family member with underlying health needs, or due to a child’s unpredictable behaviours in public making it hard to ensure social distancing.
For any family who is worried about how they will get food or medication, they can contact Herts Help to discuss whether support can be made available.
"We take the safety of our families, their children and young people, our staff and partners extremely seriously.
We will continue to deliver support to families during this time, however the way we do things will be different.
To reflect UK Government advice on social distancing, some of the ways we provide support will change:
- Our staff are now working remotely: we are currently not offering face to face meetings with families, both in the community or at school.
- SENDIASS will not be able to attend meetings until further notice. Wherever possible we will put alternative ways of working in place, and we will seek to hold virtual meetings instead of face to face.
- As always, we are contactable by email or through our helpline to ensure that you still have access to the information, advice and support they require.
We will be posting any important information that our families may benefit from on our SENDIASS website as well as here on the Local Offer."
SENDIASS have made a short video to let you know that during this time they're still here.
Contact SENDIASS on:
01992 555 847
0 - 25 Together Service announcement
"Since the Prime Minister's announcement about the responsibilities of education providers to support the needs of children of keyworkers and learners who are vulnerable, we will be doing our best to work alongside them to help them meet these needs.
It is important for us to be honest about the fact that whilst we are here to help individuals and their parent/ carers, we may have less care capacity to offer. We will not be automatically implementing 'school or college holiday plans', particularly where homecare services might be expected. Each case will be considered in regard to risk, need and availability of service, and approved by a Team Manager.
We are allowing greater flexibility for those using direct payments, where no DBS check is needed. This means that parents can recruit more easily for the help that they need, perhaps where a young person is home from university for example. Brokerage will keep a record of costs linked to COVID-19.
We are also working to build capacity and new types of services, prioritising care for those with the most complex needs who don't have support from a family network. We are working through how we deal with scenarios where children with complex needs must be supported, should their parents become unwell or possibly worse. Our role in the coming days is therefore changing to become more focussed on urgent and crisis response.
Thank you all for your resilience and continued support."
Andy Lawrence, Head of 0 - 25 Together Service
Official guidance sent to Hertfordshire schools
Simon Newland, Operations Director for Education at Hertfordshire County Council, sent a message to Hertfordshire schools today in response to recent government guidance, stating: Workflow
- Make parents aware of the guidance around keyworkers as a matter of urgency, so that those who are entitled to continuing provision are enabled to put their children forward.
- Point parents to the part of the guidance which states: “If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.”
- In plain language, the guidance reminds parents that children should seek to avoid extensive or close contact with their friends during the time schools are closed. I recognise how hard this will be. Please draw this to the attention of parents, and if appropriate you may be able to make the same point to pupils.
- If you are a parent whose child is entitled to continued provision in school from Monday, but your usual school is closed, we will provide a list of exceptions and alternative arrangements on Sunday.
Hertfordshire school closures at the end of the school day on Friday 20 March
Hertfordshire County Council schools will be closing from the end of the day on Friday 20 March. However, if your child has a social worker, an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or you are a keyworker, your children will continue to be able to attend school. Arrangements for mainstream school can be found on Hertfordshire County Council's service updates webpage:
We are working together with our special schools to continue provision for pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). If you want to know if your school is staying open, we recommend you contact them directly.