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January Schools opening guidance – some points to note for special needs pupils

Yesterday the government released updated guidance on the opening of schools in January.

You can find the latest guidance here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-contingency-framework-for-education-and-childcare-settings

Headlines for children and young people with SEND are. You will see in green italics, those areas in which we are seeking further clarification:

  • Return dates for primary and secondary schools & colleges in England
    • 4 Jan – majority of primary schools start returning
    • 4 Jan – secondary schools and colleges to provide remote education for exam years and face to face for education for vulnerable and critical worker children (this includes children with an EHCP)
    • 11 Jan – face to face education for exam years and vulnerable and critical worker children and remote learning for other secondary school and college years
    • 18 Jan – secondary school and college students return for face-to-face education
  • All pupils in special schools are able to attend from the week commencing 4 January. There is some limited flexibility to stagger returns in these settings where it is necessary to allow special schools to prepare for testing to begin from 11 January.
  • All vulnerable children in secondary schools will have a place from 4th January
  • In some areas all children of primary age will receive a remote education – for a list of these areas see the DfE guidance. We are seeking clarification of whether this includes vulnerable children and children of key workers.
  • Wearing of masks will be required in school for children in year 7 onwards. We are seeking clarification of exceptions for children for whom this may be difficult or impossible and reasonable adjustments may be required.
  • We are also seeking clarification of whether it will be mandatory for vulnerable children (including those with an EHCP) to attend school. We have asked that the DfE make clear that an decision about attendance at school must take into account the particular needs of the child / young person and their family and be coproduced with them. Places should be available for all vulnerable children but attendance should not be mandatory (e.g. where it would increase a young person’s anxiety or perhaps lead to bullying).

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