Special Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to provide special schools with updated COVID-19 guidance.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

On 2 July, the department published guidance for the full opening of special schools, which is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

It provides information on specific approaches and flexibilities that special schools, special post-16 institutions and other specialist settings should take, depending on their individual circumstances, as they support children and young people with education, health and care plans make a full return to their specialist setting from September.

This guidance was updated earlier this week and provides a number of updates including additional detail on the use of face coverings in settings, the framework for supporting transport to and from settings, health and safety duties and wraparound provision and extra-curricular activity.

We have also published guidance for safe working which outlines what safety measures need to be implemented to protect staff and students, including in special schools and residential special schools. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care-settings-including-the-use-of-personal-protective-equipment-ppe#what-care-should-be-taken-in-residential-settings-including-residential-schools-residential-special-schools-and-childrens-care-homes.

We know that home to school transport is vital for many children and young people to access education, especially for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). On 11 August, we updated our guidance for transport to school and other places of education in the 2020 autumn term, to support local authorities in providing this. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transport-to-school-and-other-places-of-education-autumn-term-2020/transport-to-school-and-other-places-of-education-autumn-term-2020#part-b-guidance-for-dedicated-transport-to-schools-and-other-places-of-education-for-autumn-term-2020.

All of the guidance is continuously being reviewed as evidence continues to emerge and circumstances change. We will provide updates if and when they are necessary.

My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, has also written to children and young people with SEND, along with their families, carers and those who support them, about the return to school. The letter is available here:

https://twitter.com/vickyford/status/1301215913790898179.

This letter outlined the support on offer to help them on their return, such as the Whole School SEND (WSS) handbook, which supports educational professionals to successfully re-engage pupils with learning after a period of disruption. The WWS handbook, along with additional resources, is available on the SEND Gateway here:

https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send/find-wss-resources/.

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