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News, Happy Stuff & Art

Dear All

It has been a while… we are nearing the end of a second lockdown, and hopefully Christmas will be kind to us all!

Having done some clearing out I am shamelessly rehashing some positive stories that have come from the past 6 years writing SEND newsletters (see ‘From the Archives’). First of all the news…

1. From the Department for Education (x3)

2. Family Support (as per the MP’s letter)

3. CDC National Virtual Event October 2020- Recordings

4. Legal consideration on the Care and Support for disabled and elderly people

5. Ofsted: Disabled children “seriously affected in both care and education” during pandemic

6. Artistry, avoidance and anxiety by Eliza Fricker

7. Sesame Street - therapy

8. Join the Christmas Express Virtual Grotto

9. From the Archives (the happy stuff)

10. Yayoi Kusama - Two Mesmerising Infinity Rooms at the Tate Modern 2021

1 From the Department for Education (x3)

20th November 2020

“We are writing to inform you that today we have updated our Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings.

Overall the guidance has been updated and refreshed to reflect that we are now coming towards the end of the autumn term and the expectation is that all children and young people, in all year groups and setting types, remain in education settings full time where possible.”

19th November 2020

“Welcome to the November 2020 edition of the Special Educational Needs and

Disabilities (SEND), Behaviour, Attendance, Exclusions and Alternative Provision

Newsletter (BAEA). Over the past months the COVID-19 Pandemic has been at the

forefront of all of our minds and through our Newsflashes we have issued letters and

guidance on behalf of Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for

Children and Families, on a wide range of topics relating to children and young

people with special educational needs (SEND), their families and carers and those

who work to support them.

The articles in this Newsletter provide guidance on a range of SEND and Attendance

related subjects as, while the pandemic remains at the forefront of attention, the

ongoing challenges and hard work of colleagues across the SEND sector has not


You can find a copy of the newsletter, with live links, here:

9th November 2020

Note the closing comment in the introduction about ‘new winter package to provide support’…

“Please find attached an open letter from Vicky Ford, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their families and carers and those who work to support them.

Following the introduction of the new national restrictions on 5th November, this letter provides advice and guidance on several issues, including school attendance, children who are clinically extremely vulnerable, remote education, face coverings in education settings, respite, health services for children and young people with SEND, and the new winter package to provide support for children and young people and their families.”

You can find a copy of the letter, with live links, here:

2 Family Support (as per the MP’s letter)

This article from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) reiterates the points from the DfE letters – and picks out the guidance regarding bubbles, short breaks and respite and provides a helpful bullet point list of the guidelines on this matter.

“As we move into another phase of restrictions CDC welcome's the Government's commitment that respite and short break support for disabled children, young people and their families can and should continue.”

3 CDC National Virtual Event October 2020- Recordings

I have attended the CDC Conferences in the past – and found them to be very helpful. The web page below gives links to the main sessions, and 11 workshops.

Subjects from their virtual conference included:

· Key learning from post-19 work

· Good digital practice developed during Covid

· Ofsted interim visits

· Transport Issues

· Using digital media to support our SEND EHCP learners

“On the 20th October 2020, CDC ran a national virtual event for SEND Leads, DCO/DMOs and Commissioners from across the country. The aim of the event was to update the sector, share knowledge and best pratice and learn from each other.)

4 Legal consideration on the Care and Support for disabled and elderly people

This event comes from Steve Broach’s current chambers – his presentations are always thorough.

“During the next month in England, a second ‘lockdown’ has been imposed which restricts the population to their own homes and prohibits gatherings, in both cases unless there is a reasonable excuse. These measures have obvious and significant implications for people in need of care and support, their families and friends and professionals involved in their lives.”

You can view the recording of the event here:

The presentation is here:

5 Ofsted: Disabled children “seriously affected in both care and education” during pandemic

From Special Needs Jungle, 10th November 2020

“Ofsted’s second report looking at how the pandemic has impacted children’s education and wellbeing has added more weight to existing evidence showing huge disparities in the experience of children during coronavirus, especially those with disabilities.”

6 Artistry, avoidance and anxiety by Eliza Fricker

Article published on Special Needs Jungle, 21st October 2020

This article brought tears to eyes (too familiar) – the author, Eliza – produces a cartoon blog which is absolutely worth a visit. Links below…

“I assumed this would be a big deal for all involved if a child can’t go to school, but I’ve since found there are loads of us. So now my daughter is at home full-time and I am a carer. I still do some bits of design work but my life has become this. I am a carer. I had ideas and plans, but the last few years became something I never imagined. Our lives became consumed by meetings in sterile offices, emails, phone calls, voicemails, lanyards, visitor stickers, laminated sheets and worst of all, crying, anger, frustration, despair, desperation and anxiety.”

The Blog: Missing the Mark:

7 Sesame Street - therapy

Interactive calming and sensory related virtual activities by Sesame Street.

There are art and music based activities – all of which are preceded and ended with ‘slow down’ exercises (eg breathing). The characters have classic squeaky voices which may put off some.

8 Join the Christmas Express Virtual Grotto

“We are delighted to be working with Santa this year to bring you some magic from the North Pole. Santa has agreed to chat specifically to all the Express believers out there.

For more details on how to have your chance to talk to Santa or send someone special a personalised video see:”

“Similar experiences online cost from £25 upwards, but we recognise this has been a difficult year for everyone, and we want to ensure that no family misses out. Therefore we're offering video calls with Santa on a donation basis only.”

9 From the Archives (the happy stuff)

Having written these newsletters since sometime in 2014 (originally as the Dear All’s before the SEND Reforms in 2014) there is a lot of information on file. Given we’re all still in lockdown, let’s have a selection of upbeat videos this time… (there will be more from the archives)

An angel who sings… (2018)

Stunning! Un Angelo che canta. Just stunning in any world! 4.47min

Things People With Down's Syndrome Are Tired Of Hearing (2106)

This is one of the best of these videos and properly funny! Beware the “head tilt”

Some of you may spot some now established actors in the cast (including a young Sarah Gordy and Tommy Jessop. 4.45min

Dance Together (2018) This film was made to celebrate the growing partnership between Greycourt and Strathmore schools in Richmond upon Thames. The film shows pupils from Greycourt, Strathmore and the Royal Ballet School, plus 4 dancers from BalletBoyz. A joy to watch! 6.19min

Our Little Dreams (2019)

“Our Little Dreams is a film made for Clarendon school. Originally we just wanted to make a film that was fun for the children to be involved in. But the children were amazing and we wanted to share this.

When I had to take my child out of mainstream education it was a difficult time. Hopefully this film shows how positive a step this can be. Please watch the film and share.” 5.46min

How a cat enabled an autistic six-year-old to communicate (2016)

“Six-year-old Iris Grace spent the first half of her life trapped in her own world, barely communicating. Her mother Arabella Carter-Johnson explains how her cat, Thula, transformed the family.” 1.38min

And Dogs… (2015)

“The special dogs helping kids in the UK

A charity in Dorset has been training a group of special dogs to help kids who have physical and mental difficulties. The dogs can help to open doors, collect post and use a pedestrian crossing where their owners might have problems. They also provide emotional support and friendship for owners like eight-year-old Phoebe.” 1.45min

More Dogs (2017)

'Guardian angel' autism dog Caddie makes Crufts finals

A "guardian angel" dog has reached the finals of Crufts for helping transform the life of a boy with autism. Caddie is a specially trained autism assistance Labrador from the "Dogs for Good" charity and helps calm anxiety. He was given to 13-year-old Joel Sayer from Newquay and has helped him carry out everyday tasks like brushing his teeth and walking to the shops.” 1.18min

The Present (2017)

Apparently turning the tables now…? A short animated film about a boy and a disabled puppy – made as part of graduation project by a German film student. The maker was offered a job at Disney as a result. 3.20min (plus 1min of credits)

Kevan’s adventure (2018)

Two adults go travelling… “They left the wheelchair behind and showed a beautiful example of friendship” 3.05min

Stupid Questions Not to Ask a Disabled Person (2015)

"Can you hear underwater?" "How do you have sex?" "You don't look visually impaired... How many fingers am I holding up?". Just a handful of the many questions thrown at people with disabilities on a daily basis. 4 mins

10 reasons to play chess (2015)

This is not a video…. If you have a child or young person who might be interested in chess (I spent a lot of time at chess tournaments some years ago…), this article is for you

Kaylee Rodgers Singing Hallelujah (2016)

Kaylee’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was the highlight of school’s Christmas concert; Kaylee attends a special school in Northern Ireland. 5min

New York City Ballet (2015)

Persist through the introductions and watch how everyone’s perceptions change… (you don’t need a facebook account to watch this video)

“When she reached out to the New York City Ballet about a dance program for children with special needs, she didn't expect a response. But what resulted is nothing short of sheer joy. For everyone.” 5 mins

7 year old autistic blind girl in a wheel chair plays guitar for the first time (2017) Watch how she calms… 1.47min

💙💚💛 Makaton Colours 🧡❤️💜 (2019)

From Singing Hands… “We get asked about colour signs all the time so thought you might like them all together” 3.11mins

Celebrity See Hear Christmas Messages – BBC (2015)

You know this is coming – let’s hope it’s good for all of us! Pre-lockdown days signing. 1 min

10 Yayoi Kusama - Two Mesmerising Infinity Rooms at the Tate Modern 2021

From Secret London, 17th September 2020

If you have a child or young person that responds positively to light, then this is one of the best. I have seen Kusama’s work in the past – not to be missed!

“Reflect upon reflections at the Tate’s Infinity Rooms exhibit.

London has a long and treasured history with Yayoi Kusama and her mesmerising Infinity Rooms. Her extremely photogenic pumpkins pitched up in 2016 and promptly took over Instagram, whilst these groovy disco lanterns appeared at the Victoria Miro Gallery back in 2018, to much fanfare. Happily, we’ll get to see Infinity Rooms in London once again, as a pair will be dazzling the crowds at Tate Modern from spring 2021!”

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

With best wishes, Romany



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