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We will post updates and messages here from special educational needs and disabilities services relating to Coronavirus when they are available.

You can follow service updates to all Hertfordshire County Council services (including libraries and schools) on their Coronavirus service updates page.

07.04.2020, 1.15pm

Important information about statutory processes around Education, Health and Care Plans

EHCP timescales

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.

EHC assessments

  • 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 additional assessments and information may be gathered using video calls. 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.
  • We will, if possible, 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 but it is possible that as a result of 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; if final arrangements are still being made in your EHC plan, services will continue working with you to make this happen.
  • 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.

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.


02.04.2020, 4.02pm

Notice from the Integrated Therapies Service about changes to their service

The Integrated Therapies service covers the whole of Hertfordshire, and includes speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

"We have changed the support we offer for children and young people because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have needed to concentrate our resources on critical care for children, and we have also redeployed staff to support vulnerable adults during this challenging time. This means that:

We will continue:

  • Supporting children with dysphagia.
  • Supporting children who urgently need to be discharged out of hospital.
  • Supporting children who may require end of life care.
  • Doing urgent moving and handling assessments, if required.
  • Supporting tribunal hearings.
  • Providing an enhanced Advice Line to support parents and families.

We have paused:

  • Therapy for children with an Education Health and Care Plan in a special or mainstream school.
  • Giving advices for any new requests for statutory Education, Health and Care assessments.
  • Therapy assessments in schools.

To prepare for this, we reviewed the needs of all children we currently work with —especially for special schools. We're supporting families with managing their children’s physical needs at home, and we have moved the relevant equipment from school into families' homes, or an alternative care setting.

We are contacting all families by phone or text regarding these changes, and we will keep you updated you about any further changes to our service."

If you've got any questions, you can ring our Integrated Therapies advice line on 01992 823 093, and a therapist will contact you.

01.04.2020, 1.10pm

YC Hertfordshire: Support for young people during the Coronavirus outbreak

Whilst YC Hertfordshire Services for Young People are have suspended any face-to-face work, young people can still contact Youth Workers and Personal Advisers over the phone or by email. The team have put together a remote working system to help support young people at this difficult time. YC Hertfordshire supports young people with learning difficulties and/ or disabilities up to the age of 24.

More about YC Hertfordshire's support for young people during the Coronavirus outbreak.

01.04.2020, 1.15pm

SEND home to school transport update

If your son or daughter’s home to school transport is due to end in July 2020, we will be contacting you by email in April 2020 regarding transport for September 2020. We do not know how long COVID-19 will impact upon normal opening for schools and colleges, but are planning as normal for September and therefore it is important that you complete and return the transport application form by the end of May.

Please send all correspondence and applications via email to schooltransport@hertfordshire.gov.uk.

31.03.2020, 2.15pm

CYP SEND Brokerage Team: Assistance for those receiving direct payments from Hertfordshire County Council

Information for families about Coronavirus (Covid-19), in relation to the Direct Payments made for a child or young person in your care. The letter will help answer any questions on the following:

  • What happens if my child or another person in the household gets the symptoms of Covid-19?
  • What happens if my carer gets the symptoms of Covid-19?
  • Should I pay my care workers if they have to self-isolate or are sick?
  • Is there any professional support available to my carer or personal assistant?
  • Contingency planning for you and your family.

30.03.2020, 5.30pm

Attendance advice from the Department for Education: An update from Hertfordshire County Council

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 Eductaion 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.

26.03.2020, 2.50pm

An open letter to children and young people with SEND and their families, from Vicky Ford MP

Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary undersecretary for state for children and families sent an open letter to all families of children with SEND.

Read the full letter from Vicky Ford (PDF 326kb), or read our overview:

  • Government guidance about supporting vulnerable children.
  • Government guidance with household isolation advice for children and young people who live in residential settings, and the staff that support them.
  • The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should do a risk assessment to establish the needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). This assessment should include 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.
  • On 19 March, the 'Coronavirus Bill' was passed. The bill includes temporary emergency powers to modify legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties around EHCPs. This means that local authorities must do what they can to put in place the provision stated in EHCPs, but they won't be penalised for failing to do so. This will also mean that timescales around EHCP processes may be modified. This decision has not been taken lightly, and will be in place for as little time as possible. We hope that this will allow services to balance the needs of this vulnerable group and manage the demand on services in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Our Hertfordshire response

  • We (Hertfordshire County Council) are not making any blanket changes to policy around modifying the timescales of the EHCP process. We will only do so with parental consent, and on a case by case basis.
  • We have asked special school leaders to risk assess each of their pupils and let us know as soon as they can, who they have identified as needing provision at school, and who can be supported at home. This includes pupils who are children to key workers, and pupils who have been identified as being vulnerable.
  • Children's services will work with special schools to help them develop education support for their children and families, who are both attending school and those at home. This include how families will access specialist advisory teachers.

For any children unable to go to school at this time, special schools are working with their staff to provide:

  • personalised on-line/ virtual learning programmes and daily contact with specialist advisory teachers.
  • An educational psychology and advisory teacher helpline for parents and schools to get support and advice (Mon - Fri 10am - 4.30pm) - 01992 588 574
  • Wrap around support for families e.g. through short breaks and social care where needed.

25.03.2020, 16.56pm

Hertfordshire SENDIASS: what to expect from us during COVID-19

"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."

Contact SENDIASS on:

sendiass@hertfordshire.gov.uk

01992 555 847

20.03.2020, 16.55pm

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:

  • 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.

20.03.2020, 4.21pm

Announcement from the 0 - 25 Together Service

"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

20.03.2020, 2pm

KIDS Hubs will be closed to visitors but their services are still running

KIDS Hubs 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 hub.herts@kids.org.uk"

20.03.2020, 12.30pm

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:

Special schools

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.

0300 123 4043
Hertfordshire County Council customer call centre

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