• SEND speak

Back to School… & other bits

Dear All

And a change of e-mail address for SENDspeak. From the end of September 2020, the e-mail address for SENDspeak will be: will no longer exist as an e-mail address. The reason for the change is simple - gmail is free! is active now, should you wish to use it.

Now, on to the newsletter itself…

1 What Worked Well For Your Child/Young Person With SEND During Lockdown (Or Would Have)?

2 Preparing for returning to schools – Frequently Asked Questions

3 “There is now clear data on Covid-19 and children: it should be safe to reopen English schools”

4 on schools reopening

5 Transport to school and other places of education: autumn term 2020

6 Cerebra’s child-friendly visors (£5 donation)

7 Help with exam results…

8 What is the DSA?

9 Social Distancing for Young People

10 The Going-To-Hospital book is available now!

11 What is Breathe London?

12 Explore London without the crowds with TextQuest

13 Rebuilder Stories: David Aguilar

1 What Worked Well For Your Child/Young Person With SEND During Lockdown (Or Would Have)?

From the SEND Community Alliance, 31st July 2020

Just before we go back to school…

“Following the Special Needs Jungle survey (, that revealed a very mixed picture of support for children and young people with SEND during lockdown, we'd like to find out what was especially good for your family? Did you discover a passion for home educating? Did online speech and language therapy work well? Did your child learn better at home with the help of support from school? Did your school offer "gold standard" support - and what was great about it?

If you didn't get good, or any, support, what might have worked well? What support did you really need during lockdown? If you already home educate, what expertise can you share about what works well for your child?

Let's help to make a difference!

We want to now focus on the positives to build on what works. We think there is good evidence out there to develop standards for a flexi-schooling solution, that would work well for some children.”

Read more, and take part, here:

2 Preparing for returning to schools – Frequently Asked Questions

From Jonathan Rourke at SENDIASS, Richmond and Kingston.

“The government has announced that all children should be returning to school in September. What are your rights in relation to this change? What should you expect from schools in helping this to happen and giving you confidence that your children’s needs will be met when at school?

What can my child expect school to look like?

Many schools will already have written to you to give an idea of what to expect when

children return to school. There is lots of planning around:

· staying in class or year groups

· reduced movement around the school sites, unless in ‘bubbles’

· Staggered arrival/ leaving and break times.

· Shorter days in some schools and colleges.

· Reduction of access by parents to schools.

Some of these could be very challenging for children with SEND so it might be sensible to

speak to your school SENCO/ Head teacher in advance of the return bearing in mind the

information contained above.

This conversation should explore what ‘reasonable adjustments’; can your school can put in

place to meet the needs of your child and avoid ‘less favourable treatment’ due to their

additional needs? (Note the phrases in quotes here relate to schools’ duties under the

Equality Act 2010).

Some examples of things you may want to discuss could include:

· My child needs movement breaks how is this going to be possible?

· My child sometimes needs to move to a quiet space to relax or calm down how will this happen?

· My child has support from a classroom assistant, will this have to be offered in a

· different way due to social distancing?

· My child reacts impulsively/ is too young/ doesn’t understand social distancing how will this be managed by school?

· My child is very stressed and anxious and may feel overwhelmed What support will be available for them?

What if I don’t feel my child will be safe at school?

Government removed the duty to send children into school during the early part of the COVID 19 outbreak allowing families of Key worker children, those with EHCP’s and a few other categories, to attend.

The Government expect all children return to school in September, so you will need to discuss the worries with the school and see if they can provide support.

If there is a medical reason why children cannot attend (In most cases the shielding requirement has been removed) the discussion with school should include how a child unable to attend will receive and education and may include the continuation of some to the support offered during the summer term.

What are the consequences of not sending them to school?

If a child remains on roll at school, it is most likely that their absence will be recorded as unauthorised so it is sensible to have early discussions with school, especially if this is likely to be a long-term issue and result in attendance levels dropping to a point when the school would need to involve the Educational Welfare Service.

While the local authority ultimately has the ability to fine families for non-attendance, this is unlikely to be the first step and the School/ Education Welfare team should work with you to try and address the reason for non-attendance.

Can I choose to home educate?

Parents of children who don’t have an Education Health and Care Plan are able to write to a school and ask that their child is removed from a school roll. The child then becomes Electively Home Educated and the parent/ carer needs to ensure that the child or young person receives an Education. The Local Authority (LA) remains responsible for ensuring that the child is receiving an Education. They will check in with the family to ensure that this is happening. The LA can, if they are concerned a child is missing education, take action to ensure something is provided.

If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan you need to speak to your SEN case officer before seeking to remove a child from school and this may lead to an Early Annual Review. The aim of this would be to try to ensure that the child/ young person’s needs are met and they progress towards the outcomes listed in the plan. It may be difficult for support written into a plan to be delivered if the child does not attend school but this would be discussed at the review.

What if school ask me to take my child home / attend for reduced hours compared to peers?

Once children return to school all of those over the age of 5 are entitled to attend school ‘Full Time ’although the exact hours that constitute this differ slightly according to age and school.

Any reduction in hours for individuals is not something schools should be asking families to do and can be seen to constitute an exclusion and therefore needs to be formally recorded as such. IPSEA offer advice on this here:

What if my child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

The Emergency COVID 19 legislation gave the Department for Education the ability to require LA’s and Schools to only take ‘reasonable endeavours’ to deliver the provision named in section F of an EHCP plan. For this to apply the minister had to issue a monthly ‘notice’ which was done in June and July which allowed schools to ‘not deliver‘ all of the provision named in section F of the EHCP. You should have been involved in a risk assessment that outlines any provision that will be provided during June and July.

The Minister did not issue a notice for August and has stated it is not their intention to do so from September. If this does not happen the duty to deliver all provision listed in section F will return to ‘best endeavours’ duty.

This means you should expect the school to be delivering everything listed in the plan. If they are not, have an initial discussion with the school but you may need to involve the Local Authority in this, as the duty to ensure that the provision listed in the plan is delivered is the Authority’s and not the school’s.

Where do I seek extra help if I’m worried or have a dispute with a school?

SENDIASS Richmond and Kingston contact Kids via or 020 3793 9596

For other local authorities see this web site for local services.

3 “There is now clear data on Covid-19 and children: it should be safe to reopen English schools”

The Guardian, Matthew Snape, Tuesday 18th August 2020

This subject has been much in the news today and September looms.

“Matthew Snape is associate professor in paediatrics and vaccinology at Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics.

…reopening schools after the summer break does not represent a significant Covid-19 risk to children and teenagers themselves. What is also clear is that, as the recent difficulties around A-level results have highlighted, the near complete shutdown of school in March, during the early stages of the pandemic, meant that children and young people have been disproportionately affected by the lockdown relative to their risk of disease.”

4 on schools reopening

From, updated 21st August 2020

“Information for parents and carers about going back to schools, nurseries and colleges in the autumn term.

Information for parents and carers of children at:

· registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders)

· primary and secondary schools (including independent schools, maintained schools, academy trusts, free schools and special schools)

· colleges (for the purposes of this guidance ‘colleges’ means publicly funded sixth form and further education colleges, independent training providers and special post-16 institutions”)

5 Transport to school and other places of education: autumn term 2020

SEN Implementation, 12th August 2020

“We would like to draw your attention to new guidance published on Transport to school and other places of education: autumn term 2020 for local authorities, which will also be of interest to transport operators and education settings. Please consider this guidance when commissioning transport provision.

This is to support the government’s intention for all children and young people, in all year groups and places of education, to return to education full time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance is in two parts:

· Part A provides guidance for local authorities on managing the capacity of, and demand for, public transport, and increasing capacity of both public and dedicated home to school services, so that children can travel safely to and from school.

· Part B provides guidance about taking measures to reduce risk on dedicated home to school transport in the autumn term.

Solutions in relation to transport planning for the wider return of school children must be locally led. The precise pressures on the local transport network for both home to school transport, and public transport, will vary greatly by area, and solutions will need to reflect local circumstances that apply.

This guidance has been developed in conjunction with the Department for Transport and with advice from Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).”

6 Cerebra’s child-friendly visors (£5 donation)

“Cerebra’s Innovation Centre is busy making child-friendly face visors so that children with disabilities can return to school safely in September

Children with special educational needs and disabilities have been especially affected by the drastic changes the pandemic has brought about. School closures in particular have resulted in a substantial change to children’s routines and could be a potential factor for their declining mental health and well-being. So returning to school will be a positive step for lots of young people, but alongside that there will be worries about how to keep them as safe as possible.

That’s why our Innovation Centre will be hard at work over the next few weeks to produce 2,000 child-friendly face visors to be worn by children. These will be free to schools that need them. Our mission is to help children with brain conditions to discover a better a life and so we will be targeting our help to special needs schools.”

Request a visor/s

“There's still time to request some of the visors that our Innovation Centre are creating. If you work in a special school or your child attends one, fill out the form on our website.”

7 Help with exam results…

From Achieving for Children -13th to 31st August

“Covid-19 has affected everyone’s lives this year and changes to the exams and assessment process may have affected you. If your grades were not what you expected and you would like some support, we in the 14- to 25 team in AfC may be able to help.

We can also provide online learning that will help you on the road towards your post 16 destination. Or if you would simply like to discuss your post 16 options, we can provide impartial advice and guidance to help you to explore ideas and weigh up the pros and cons of the different options open to you - whether these are post 16 learning programmes, traineeships or apprenticeships.

Call the 14 to 25 team's Summer Support helpline to talk to a qualified careers adviser.”

The line is open from 12 to 4pm from 13th to 31st August 2020

Speak to us on *07540156905 or *07864612857

*Helpline is rota-ed between these numbers, so please note you may be directed to the alternate number

8 What is the DSA?

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are paid on top of student finance once the student starts university. The DSA helps pay the extra costs to support a student with a disability - and it does not have to be repaid.

How much the student will get depends on their individual needs - and this is subject to an assessment.

The central government website tells you: What you'll get, Eligibility, How to apply and Further information

The university should also offer help with the application for DSA.

If your young person is taking a course at the RHACC, Richmond, their website directs you thus:

“Learners on Higher Education Courses should apply for the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). Please apply for this as soon as possible to allow processing time. For further information and to check eligibility contact the Additional Learning Support team on 020 8891 5907 ext. 5032 or email

If anyone has any Top Tips about the DSA, please do pass them on for publication!

NB: The DSA is for those in Higher Education (ie university) not Further Education.

9 Social Distancing for Young People

From, updated 28th July 2020

“This guidance for young people is about social distancing and what you can do to stay alert and safe during this time. The focus is on the main public health principles for staying safe and helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This guidance has been written for young people in collaboration with young people.”

10 The Going-To-Hospital book is available now!

With thanks to 21&Co ( for sharing this resource…

“We hope you don’t have to use it, but if you do, this is an invaluable resource for any child with a learning disability who is going into hospital and needs a social story and visuals.

The FREE pdf of the book is available to EVERYONE wherever you are here:

Also, as if that wasn’t amazing enough, here’s the link to the Makaton Charity Website that hosts our FREE download containing all of the signs & symbols that support the book:

This book is a collaborative project between NHS, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust Cornwall Down's Syndrome Support Group - CDSSG Downs Syndrome Research Foundation UK Inclusive Teaching Matters and Mencap.

We hope that this resource helps children & young people with learning disabilities or autism understand what they might expect during a hospital stay or appointment.”

11 What is Breathe London?

If you are concerned about pollution, and perhaps your child or young person is susceptible to poor air quality, you might find this site helpful…

“Breathe London combines state-of-the-art technology with new data analytics to better understand Londoners’ exposure to air pollution.

The Breathe London map shows real-time data, giving Londoners continuously updated information on the air pollution they’re breathing as they move around the city. By clicking on any single pod, you can view current NO₂ and PM₂.₅ levels at that location, as well as historical data and the overall average.”

12 Explore London without the crowds with TextQuest

The Londonist, 18th August 2020

The cost for these is £16 per team (1-4 phones) and many of the quests are suitable for wheelchairs. Perhaps your young people still have some time to fill before schools open again…

“London's streets are unusually quiet at the moment, giving you a once in a lifetime chance to see the capital without the crowds. TextQuest offers a fun and challenging way to do this, through team quest games - plus, the quests are all outside, making them a safe summer day out.

There are quests to suit everyone, whether you're after a gentle stroll through town, or a fast-paced mystery to solve. Whichever quest you choose, you'll learn plenty about London along the way, visiting parts of the city you may not have seen before, and picking up trivia tidbits.

Criss-cross the Thames and ogle the views on the London Bridges quest, or solve clues around Kensington to discover stunning statues and amazing architecture. Other quest themes include London pubs, a Theatreland murder mystery and more.”

Explore London's Secret Streets

The cost of these is £25 per team (5-6 people)

“Discover fascinating history and hidden gems with Locked City treasure hunts. Designed for adults and older teenagers, solve the trail of cryptic clues sent to your phone as you journey through the streets of London.”

13 Rebuilder Stories: David Aguilar

3.21 minute video

Whilst this is an advert for Lego, the story is charming… This young man built his own prosthetic arm from Lego – the first time he did this was age 9. He goes on to describe how some years later, when he went to school wearing a more complex Lego Technic prosthetic, he felt proud to be looked at for the first time.

If you have any questions at all, please ask and I'll do my best to find an answer.

With best wishes, Romany



17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All