SEN Round Up – 17th May 2020

What a week…

I’ll be honest, I was tempted not to write a round up this week and say I was on holiday, or something!  Then I realised I’d have twice as much to do next week and I’d end up contradicting myself several times over!

My apologies again to NI, Scotland and Wales…if one of you can point me in the direction of the update service for your education documents I’ll happily read and summarise…but I can’t even find the date on some of them. 

So, here goes (and please check the date to make sure something new hasn’t been published since!).


Overarching guidance for educational settings

Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020

First published on 11th May and adjusted on 12th May to provide an initial planning framework.  This is actually two documents.

The first refers to planning for wider opening.  This has the sentence in it that many middle schools have been hunting for.

We expect all mainstream schools and colleges, including independent schools, to follow the same approach. We encourage middle schools to do the same and welcome back children in year 6, to ensure national parity for children in this year group.

The second document is basically a series of considerations to look at when planning return to school.

Preparing for the wider opening of schools from 1 June

New publication on 14th May.  Provided a planning guide for primary schools, with regards to reopening.

This guidance (it is guidance and not obligatory – but like any DfE guidance you must have justifiable reasons for deviating from it) caused a few tears on release.  After the announcement on Sunday evening (10th) schools spent several days making plans, for this guidance to be released 4 days later which meant going back to the beginning.  The problem being the first section, options for delivery which states:

Schools should not plan on the basis of a rota system, either daily or weekly. This guide sets out other options for schools if they are unable to cater for all of the vulnerable children, children of critical workers, nursery children (where applicable – any pre-existing, standard rotas may remain unchanged), reception pupils, year 1s and year 6s with their available staff or in their available space.

All or nothing then!

The next statement which raised eyebrows was this:

What to consider when working out staff ratios

  1. How many staff do you have available to work in school?
  2. How many teachers do you have available to work in school?
  3. How many support staff including teaching assistants do you have available for work in school?
  4. Do you have a head or deputy available for work in school?
  5. Do you have at least one person with paediatric first aid training available for work in school?
  6. Do you have at least one person with up to date Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) training available to work in school?
  7. Do you have your special educational needs coordinator available for work, or an alternative staff member who could take on this role?
  8. Do you have a caretaker and/or cleaning staff, and if necessary at least one office staff member available during the school day?

Number 7 being most relevant to us!

A few other points to note:

  • Maximum groups size is 15 with one teacher and it suggests just one further adult if required.
  • Spacing should be as far apart as possible – but does not have to be 2m
  • Teaching assistants can cover classes under the supervision of teachers
  • Prioritisation is 3/4 year-olds, N, R, Y1, Y6 in that order.

Attendance registers should resume, but note the following

Parents and carers of eligible year groups, and critical workers/parents and carers of vulnerable children, are strongly encouraged to bring in their children, but they will not face fines or other sanctions if they don’t.

Your school will not be held to account for your attendance figures during this time.

You should encourage parents whose children have been invited in to call you each day if they are not coming in as normal, so you understand why and can discuss it with them if needed.

And it is acknowledged that staff from other year groups will be required in school to cover the smaller groupings therefore the online/other teaching of non-attending groups needs to be adapted and the DfE is promoting the use of the Oak National Academy.

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

15th May updated with the actions that schools will need to take in preparation for the wider reopening of schools on 1 June 2020.

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak

15th May updated guidance including adding a new section clarifying the position on welcoming back all children to early years settings from 1 June, information on when childminders can reopen to more children, and what provision they can currently provide, information on testing for essential workers, and information for parents on temporary changes to the 30 hours free early education entitlements.

I think a very interesting paragraph from this guidance is here.  It says that childminders can care for the children from ONE household.

To align with the government’s position on nannies, we are updating our guidance for early years settings to confirm that paid childcare can be provided to the children of one household from Wednesday 13 May. This includes childminders, who may choose to look after the children of one household if they are not already looking after vulnerable children or those of critical workers.

There were a lot of changes in the document and those who are affected are advised to read carefully.

  • updated links to new and revised guidance
  • a new section clarifying the position on welcoming all children back to early years settings from 1 June
  • clarification on the responsibilities for settings and local authorities in relation to safeguarding (section 3)
  • information regarding testing for essential workers (section 6.4)
  • link to guidance on free early education entitlements added (section 5.1)
  • information for parents on temporary changes to the 30 hours free early education entitlements (section 5.2)
  • revised recommendations on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (section 6.2)
  • further information on safeguarding requirements during this period (section 7.8)
  • information on when can childminders can reopen to more children (section 10.5)

Actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak

13th May added a new notice with reference to procurement.

14th May adjusted the original document to provide further information to plan for wider opening, including what to consider and steps to take when planning increased attendance. Other updates include vulnerable young people, safeguarding and mental health support.

COVID-19 Infection prevention and control

Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care

New publication 14th May.  This document gave 6 approaches to reduce transmission:

  1. Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell
  2. Clean your hands often
  3. Respiratory hygiene (catch it, bin it, kill it)
  4. Clean surfaces that are touched frequently
  5. Minimise contact and mixing
  6. Personal Protective Equipment (or not, as it actually says it is not needed)

Because it is challenging to reduce contact between young children in early years settings, regular cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, objects and toys, as well as handwashing, are particularly important. The use of soft toys and toys with intricate parts or that are otherwise hard to clean should be avoided.”

Covid-19: implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings

Published 11th May and footnotes added 12th May with reference to priority groups and PPE.

Key sentences:

In childcare settings, providers will be asked to welcome back all children below statutory school age from the week commencing 1 June.

From the week commencing 1 June at the earliest, we will be asking primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups.

We will ask secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full time provision they are offering to priority groups.

We are also asking nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, to begin welcoming back all children.

Alternative provision settings should mirror the approach being taken for mainstream schools and also offer some face-to-face support for years 10 and 11 students (as they have no year 12).

Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools will work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups.

Our ambition is to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. 

PPE remains a contentious issue.  The current guidance states:

Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended.

If you have questions about shielding as a student, staff member or child of a vulnerable adult this is the document you need to refer to in terms of when/whether you should return.

COVID-19: guidance for educational settings

15th May updated to add clarification on guidance and legislation.  This is the page with the posters you’re supposed to put up.

Supporting vulnerable children and young people

Supporting vulnerable CYP during the coronavirus outbreak

15th May updated guidance to reflect wider plans for more year groups to return to education settings, stating that vulnerable children and young people remain a priority, and are expected to attend if appropriate. We have not changed the groups included in the definition of vulnerable children, but have provided further examples of what types of children might be considered to be ‘otherwise vulnerable’, at the education provider’s discretion. We have also included updated links to Public Health England advice.

We have reiteration that vulnerable children and young people across all year croups continue to be expected to attend educational provision…this remains a priority …as some year groups being to return to on-site provision.

“Parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend educational provision. We expect educational providers and other relevant partners to work with and support the relevant families and pupils to return to school, where attendance is appropriate.”

Paragraph 2.3 is a specific reference to children with EHCPs.  And a key reference to children without EHCPs and not in the target year groups.

Schools, colleges and local authorities have latitude to use special educational needs and disability (SEND) risk assessments also for children and young people who have SEND without an EHC plan, where they feel it would be beneficial, for instance for children on SEN support who have complex needs. This means they can use this as a mechanism to bring back pupils and students with SEND who need it, in other year groups, even if they do not have an EHC plan.

The government seems to have preempted the concern that teacher’s cannot be in two places at once – at school and teaching those that remain at home.  Therefore they are signposting the Oak National Academy.

Guidance on specific subjects

Critical workers who can access school or educational settings

14th May updated to reflect that children of critical workers are encouraged to attend school, and to reflect plans for wider opening of schools from 1 June, at the earliest. Updated information defining vulnerable children, in line with existing guidance, for the purpose of continued education.

Originally, the children of critical workers and vulnerable children were told if it is safe to stay at home, stay there, but if you need a place there is one available.  This message has now changed to one of: You have a place available, please use it.

“Now that we have made progress in reducing the transmission of coronavirus we are encouraging all eligible children to attend settings (where there are no shielding concerns for the child or their household), even if parents are able to keep their children at home.”

Reading this – they expect the children of critical workers and all those who were classed under the vulnerable label to attend.  In another document it clearly states that a family cannot be fined for choosing not to send their child to school – but they will be expected to revert back to the old ‘inform on the day of absence’ each day and schools are ‘encouraged’ to have a conversation with them.

The definition of critical workers remains unchanged.  There was some confusion when the workforce was told to return to work if they were safe to do so, suggesting that their children became eligible for a school place.  This was not the case.  The critical worker list remains the same, and it is only the additional years groups being proposed that will have places available to them.

Coronavirus: online education resources

13th May updated to include further information on how the high quality resources list will be kept up to date.

Providing free schools meals during the coronavirus outbreak

15th May updated information about claiming for additional costs, providing meals or food parcels through your food provider and ordering vouchers to cover multiple weeks.

Finance and administration

No changes


No changes



I’ve actually struggled to find this document as it isn’t in the normal location…so I thought I’d pop the link here in case you need to keep an eye on it too.  It hasn’t been updated since 4th May.

Edukey SEND Webinars

The SEND Webinar series has sadly some to an end but all the recording are over on the website

Natalie Packer, David Bartram and I presented to over 10,000 (double checks the zeroes) individuals over the 4 weeks.  Thank you, to everyone who logged in and engaged with the presentations.  We had some quite specific questions that we were unable to answer and many that were variations on a theme.  Have a look at the FAQs on the website to see.

We are considering the best date for a return performance (goats included!).  With current proposals for July as we realise things ‘might’ get a little hectic over the next few weeks.

EDUKEY Wellbeing Webinars

There are two more Wellbeing webinars to go.  If you didn’t see Jerome Flynn (bronn from Game of Thrones) in episode 2 then do have a watch of the recording.

This week we have the special guest speaker Sue Atkins (ITVs parenting expert) and the final week is Mike Armiger (education, mental health advisor and foster carer).

If you haven’t booked a ‘seat’, pop along to


I launched my own little series this week. The “Ten Minute SEN Snippet”. These have been designed to give you a snapshot of information about a special educational need or difficulty in ten minutes. Suitable for SENCOs, teachers or parents, they will follow a similar format: Definition, difficulties, strategies, activities (to explain). They are accompanied by a resource pack with a fact sheet for SENCOs, teachers and parents and some ideas for CPD activities if you want to deliver something more detailed yourself.

Videos can be found on the SENsible SENCO YouTube channel and resources will be hosted in the relevant blog post on (Which will be updated by Tuesday 19th.)


Why can’t the DfE publish one document with several chapters rather than several documents that repeat the same thing (or worse still contradict each other)?