Special Educational Needs: Coronavirus

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

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Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps is he taking to support children with special educational needs and disabilities as they return to school during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We appreciate that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have faced many challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak and some may find returning to school difficult. Therefore, we have put in place a number of measures to support their return to school.

We have published guidance to support schools with welcoming all pupils back and re-engaging pupils with learning. We are clear that schools should work closely with parents and carers to agree the best approach to support children and young people with SEND. The guidance for the full opening of special education settings is available here:

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

The guidance for the full opening of mainstream settings is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

In addition, the Whole School SEND consortium have run training sessions and developed resources for teachers supporting pupils with SEND to return to school after the long absence.

We are very aware of the negative impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to have had on children and young people’s mental health and are working to provide additional support in this area. We recently announced extra mental health support for pupils and teachers to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. This will include a programme to develop mental health and wellbeing expertise among school staff and a wider Public Health England-led package of support for young people, including online resources designed by health and education experts.

We have also announced a major investment in SEND education, including an additional £730 million into high needs next financial year, coming on top of the additional £780 million in the 2020-21 financial year, which means high needs budgets will have grown by over £1.5 billion, nearly a quarter, to £8 billion in just two years.

Furthermore, we are providing an additional £1 billion catch-up package to schools, which includes a ‘catch-up premium’ worth £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. This carries additional weighting for specialist settings, recognising the significantly higher per pupil costs they face.

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