25th APRIL 2020

It has taken me nearly 15 hours to produce this today.  Not because there was lots to update – but because I have had to reinstall my whole computer operating system THREE times.  Anyway, here it is… Most of the changes are unrelated to SEN directly but may have an influence.  I’ve highlighted green anything I think is really relevant! And in red anything that’s not SEN but probably affects us more.

In summary though – not a lot this week that was directly relevant to SEN.

DfE

Well the DfE decided at the end of last week to reorganise it’s website into something a little more user friendly…this means I now have headings to work under.

Overarching guidance

4 of the 5 documents in here were updated this week

Covid-19 school closures

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-school-closures

On The 19th April: Updated information on online resources and remote learning, workforce, and vulnerable children.

Covid-19 EY and childcare closures

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures

On the 21st and 24th April; Updated guidance on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Update to reflect changes in Early Years Statutory Framework.

This seems to be a fairly significant change:

Does the Early Years Foundation Stage still apply?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework sets the standards that schools and childcare settings must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old.

We have amended legislation to allow for the temporary disapplying and modifying of a number of requirements within the EYFS, giving settings flexibility to respond to changes in workforce availability and potential fluctuations in demand while ensuring children are kept safe. These temporary changes come into force on 24 April 2020.

Full details of the amendments can be found in the guidance on Early years foundation stage statutory framework (EYFS), which also includes details about how the temporary arrangements will be brought to an end. Settings and local authorities should fully familiarise themselves with these changes to ensure they understand the flexibilities available to them and are meeting the modified requirements, especially in relation to paediatric first aid, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Do settings need to meet the learning and development requirements in sections 1 and 2 of the EYFS?

Following the amendments to the EYFS from 24 April, early years settings only need to use reasonable endeavours to deliver the learning and development requirements set out in the EYFS. We understand that these are exceptional circumstances and the priority at this time is keeping children safe and well cared for. As far as possible, children should also benefit from a broad range of educational opportunities.

Will schools assess children against the EYFS profile this academic year?

The Secretary of State for Education has announced that there will be no exams or assessments in schools this summer. This includes no assessment of children in reception year against the early learning goals that form the EYFS profile. This also means no moderation by local authorities.

Can settings vary staff to child ratios and qualifications?

Paragraph 3.30 of the EYFS states:

‘Exceptionally, and where the quality of care and safety and security of children is maintained, changes to the ratios may be made.’

We consider the extent of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to be an exceptional temporary circumstance in which the staff to child ratios set out in the EYFS can be changed if necessary. However, childcare settings or schools remain responsible for ensuring the safety and security of children in their care.

Amendments made to regulations from 24 April allow further exceptions to be made to the qualification level that staff hold in order to be counted in the ratio requirements. Settings should use reasonable endeavours to ensure that at least half of staff (excluding the manager) hold at least a full and relevant level 2 qualification to meet staff to child ratio requirements, but this is not a legal requirement.

In nursery classes in maintained schools, caring for children aged 3 and over, reasonable endeavours should be used to ensure that at least one member of staff is a school teacher. Where this is not possible, there must be at least one member of staff for every 8 children, with at least one member of staff who holds at least a full and relevant level 3 qualification. Providers should use their reasonable endeavours to ensure that at least half of other staff hold at least a full and relevant level 2 qualification.

Further detail is set out in Early Years Foundation Stage: disapplications and modifications for early years provision open during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Covid-19 Maintaining FE provision

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision

Also on the 24th April: Updated to signpost to other recent publications including free school meals guidance and support for young people who are unable to access remote education. Also, updated information on governance arrangements and provision around the European Social Fund (ESF).

Covid-19 Apprenticeships

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response

And another from the 24th April; Updated information on furloughed apprentices, end-point assessment, functional skills apprentices and qualification certification.

Covid-19 infection prevention and control

No changes to the 3 documents in this section

Supporting vulnerable children and young people

2 changes to the 3 documents under this heading

Supporting vulnerable children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people

19th April: Clarifications to the existing guidance including the actions to be taken for each group around their attendance or otherwise at an education setting. We have not changed the groups included in the definition of vulnerable children.

COVID-19 SEND risk assessment guidance

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance

19th April: first publication. 

Now you might wonder why I’m not writing about this – it’s because it is in the SEN round-up 3b the second version produced last week in response to this late addition.

Guidance on specific subjects

4 of the 9 documents here had changes.

Remote education during COVID-19

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19 

21st April: BBC Bitesize Daily was added to the list of suggested sites.

Providing FSM during the coronavirus outbreak

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance 

20th and 24th April:Updated information about school food contracts and free school meal eligibility. Added guidance and a sample application form on the temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to NRPF groups.

In the second update added a link to the 16 to 19 free meals in further education guidance and information about Aldi joining the national voucher scheme.

Changes to school admissions

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/admission-appeals-for-school-places/coronavirus-covid-19-school-admission-appeals 

24th April: unhelpfully they haven’t left up a copy of the old version released earlier nor written a summary of the changes.  In a nutshell they give the right for appeals panels to be held remotely or even paper-based, allow for 2 panel members if the 3rd has to pull out and adjust the timelines.

Managing school premises

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/managing-school-premises-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak 

24th April this is a new publication.  It’s a summary of all the health and safety considerations to be taken into account with partial openings of schools.  So things like fire alarms tests, water systems and ventilation.  Not particularly SEN focussed.

Finance and Administration

2 of the 4 files have changes

COVID-19 financial support for education, EY and children’s social care

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care 

22nd April: Updated to align with updated HMT/HMRC guidance.

COVID-19 reducing burdens on educational and care settings

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-reducing-burdens-on-educational-and-care-settings 

A new publication on 20th April.  It simply says: To help reduce the burden on educational and care settings at this time, the Department for Education (DfE) and its agencies have cancelled or paused all but the most essential data collections, services and requests from educational and care settings until the end of June 2020.

I think it’s important to be aware it says PAUSE and they reserve the right to extend the pause period, but that also implies that they may collect the data at some point.

ITT and NQTs

2 documents and unsurprisingly no changes.

Other things to be aware of:

Vicky Ford met with the Education Committee earlier this week and the legal proposals around reasonable endeavours rather than absolute duty for EHCPs seem to be gathering pace.  This will impact significantly on what is expected as regards EHCPs during the period of school closures.

An education support group has been set up to advise the government on how to meet the needs of SEN during the school closures and when they return.  Unfortunately, this group does not seem to reflect parent voice nor that of mainstream teachers, so we can hope there may be changes likely in order to reflect this.

The government information about free technology to specific groups for some reason doesn’t appear on its DfE site in the most logical of places.  They have however notified of delays in setting this up.  Schools will not be involved in writing the business bids for this as they will be coordinated through LAs, Trusts and Children’s social care.

If you are still trying to create your risk assessments have a look at the webinar input from Natalie Packer (video 1: www.provisionmap.co.uk/webinar) for some advice.  If you click on the FAQs there are links to some of the example RAs we managed to locate.