SEND Information Newsletter

News and information from Dorset Council about services for children & young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
 
 

Hello, we hope you are all doing okay.

We understand this is a particularly difficult time for many SEND families, we will do our best to continue to keep you informed both through this newsletter and our website. In this edition we have included the latest education information and coronavirus guidance.     

This newsletter is produced by Dorset Council in partnership with the Dorset Parent Carer Council and colleagues from NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group. If there is something that you would like covered in future editions, you can find contact details at the bottom of this newsletter.

Dorset’s SEND Local Offer
 

Update on schools, colleges and childcare 

Schools and colleges in Dorset remain open for critical workers,vulnerable children and children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans. 

All six of the Dorset special schools are open and are trying their best to offer a provision for as many children and young people as possible. 
 
Few settings are able to offer the full provision typical of their setting. They will continue to contact families to discuss individual and specific needs. We do understand these are challenging and uncertain times for families and staff in settings. We are working hard to support both.

There will be differences between schools in how they offer provision depending on the size and staffing in the school. 

Government guidance for critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings can be found here.

If your child or young person is considered Critically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) then it’s advised that they do not attend school at present. Detailed guidance can be found on the gov.uk website.  There are no fines for not sending your child to school. 

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans

We’re also working hard to keep the EHC plan process moving. Assessments for an EHC plan may look different as it becomes more difficult to do our work face to face.

We may need to do more by telephone or video calls where possible. Our decision-making panels are moving to online meetings. We’ll continue to review this. 

If the child or young person and family choose to deliver learning at home or the school are not able to provide safely for the child or young person we will be asking schools to complete individual risk assessments in relation to the impact on the child’s/young person’s EHCP outcomes and wellbeing.

These should be completed in partnership with the families, and young person where possible. 

Legal timelines for EHC needs assessment are still in place.  There will be some changes to how the professionals carryout assessments if the child is not in school and this may have an impact on the quality of the assessment and timelines.  Any changes will be discussed with the family.
 
The EP helpline continues to be open and available. The telephone number is 01258 474036. 

You can also  contact SENDIASS by phone or email for support. 

Free school meals update:  

Dorset Council is working with schools to make sure families who need it (including those who receive free school meals) can receive food vouchers if they are not in school. If your child gets free school meals their school will give you details. Find out more.   

More information about schools in Dorset
 

SEND travel arrangements

We want to reassure you that we’re following the advice from the Department for Education (DfE) when we arrange your child’s school transport.

We’ll continue to provide transport where needed and we’ll contact you about any changes to the service.

If you decide to take your child to school yourself, you will not lose your school transport place. You can change your mind if your situation changes.

 

What has changed for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable children?

  • The Government has reinstated the shielding guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable groups in all areas of England.
  • All clinically extremely vulnerable children are advised not to attend education settings.
  • It is expected that education settings are able to offer them access to remote education. Your child’s school will get in touch with you.

You can also find some useful resources for home learning here
 

Support for health needs

We’ve also been working with Dorset health providers to make sure we’re still meeting the needs of children with the most complex needs.

Our frontline teams are currently looking at every child’s situation and their needs. This is a difficult time and we know that it may be even more challenging for our SEND families.

Government guidance on shielding and protecting those who are clinically extremely vulnerable
 

Secondary schools have been asked to test children for Coronavirus – what will it mean?

All secondary schools and colleges (including special schools and alternative provision) are expected to establish Coronavirus testing and encourage pupils to have a test. Here is the government guidance. This is being done in an effort to manage the pandemic. Students will be encouraged to take part in testing, but if they are unable to it is not a requirement and they can still attend school. Primary schools will not be introducing testing at this time.   

Schools are currently working on their plans to roll out testing. Schools will advise families of the details and provide more information as soon as they can. There is an Easy Read guide below which explains what having a test is like, apologies it is not all relevant, as children clearly won’t need to travel for a test, but hopefully it is a useful introduction to the topic.  

Read the Easy Read information about Coronavirus testing
 
 
 
 

What should be in our next newsletter? 

This newsletter is produced in partnership with the Dorset Parent Carer Council and colleagues from NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group.

If there is something that you would like to see covered in the newsletter, please contact Rian Davies, email: rian.davies@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk. Please also check our website, which will be kept updated with our latest Coronavirus advice.  

 
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Do you have any questions or comments?  Email sendnews@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

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