Last Updated 3:31pm, 15 January 2021
Education during lockdown
We know this is a difficult and worrying time, and we want to be as clear as possible about what you can expect while we all try to manage our usual practices and services.
The EHC Hub has remained open for parents and schools, and it’s now being used by a wide range of settings to plan in Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for the autumn term.
We’re working closely with parents and carers during this difficult time to help you to use your child’s direct payments and short breaks plan flexibly and creatively, and to make sure that your family is receiving the most appropriate support that is available to you.
You’ll also find lots of information below. We are updating these webpages all the time to keep you informed with the latest information and have worked with the Parent Carer Forum Devon to make sure it’s as easy to understand as possible.
We are regularly talking to the co-chairs of the Parent Carer Forum to jointly identify issues and try to resolve them and make sure you have all the information you need.
Requests for statutory assessments
Schools/colleges and parents will still be able to request a statutory assessment. If professionals are already involved with the child or young person, and the education provider has been implementing the advice they have provided, it is likely that there will be evidence to support a full assessment of need. We will then be able to describe any needs and provision.
In some cases, there may not be any professional evidence of needs yet. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, professionals may not be able to see your child to assess them in the usual way. In these cases, you may need to think about whether this is the most appropriate time to make the request.
When we decide that we need to complete a statutory assessment, we usually ask a range of people (like teachers, educational psychologists (EPs) and other professionals) for advice. During the Coronavirus outbreak this will be more difficult because:
- health and care staff may be asked to work in front line services instead of their usual role
- professionals may not be available – they may be sick, self-isolating or caring for children
- EPs will not be able to see and assess children and young people in school/college in the usual way
The Special Educational Needs (SEN) 0-25 Team will keep working but with fewer people than normal, doing our best to make the right decisions for children and young people. We will try hard to keep parents updated where there are any problems. Parents can also access the EHC Hub and will be able to see the progress.
Issuing EHC plans
Where we have completed an assessment and we are due to issue a final EHC plan, we will most likely name the current school/college for now. This will mean that the child or young person will still be supported by that school/college during the COVID-19 crisis.
The SEN 0-25 Team will work together with schools/colleges to make sure that children, young people and their families feel safe and supported.
SEND provision in schools and educational settings
Provision specified in the EHC plan
- Changes to, or reductions in, the EHCP provision during this outbreak will not be considered to have agreed a permanent change to their EHC plan.
- Schools and local authorities will use reasonable endeavours to support these children and their families and put in place provision – this means will all do what we practically can to enable children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) are supported.
Supporting SEND learners returning to education
We’ve created a toolkit help support schools/colleges in the planning for SEND learners as they transition back into school/college following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Further advice and guidance is available in this video from The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and this blog post from Raft Psychology.
For the latest general advice and guidance on the return to school, please see Devon County Council’s coronavirus advice page.
EHC plan reviews
We know this is a difficult and unprecedented time for us all, and we fully appreciate how unsure schools and parents will be in managing the usual SEN practices. Our first priorities are that children and families are safe and supported through this. This may impact on the normal schedule of annual reviews.
Following feedback from parents, carers, professionals, children and young people, most reviews will now take place through Devon’s online EHC Hub.
When you are invited to an ECHP Review you will also receive an invitation to register for the Hub. And by registering on the EHC Hub you will be able to:
- Download and view a copy of the current plan for your child or young person
- Accept/decline invitations to review meetings
- Access any reports or advice submitted as part of a review
- Share your views ahead of the meeting
When you are invited to a review meeting, the EHC Hub will provide details of when and where the meeting will take place and who else has also been invited. You will also have the opportunity to share your views ahead of the meeting.
If you believe that a review is essential and fundamental to the young person’s education at this time, then the following needs to be considered.
- If your school or college has arranged meetings and these can go ahead in any way please do so, this may be virtual meetings. The SEN team are unlikely to be available to come into schools for these meetings
- Please offer a virtual meeting before cancelling meetings
- If you cannot arrange for a way of keeping these meetings in the diary, please can this be discussed between school and parents, and then the school email the SEN team at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If parents still require the local authority to hold a meeting then the SEN team can look into how we could arrange this
Post review response
- The report should be submitted as normal to the SEN team
- The response will be determined by the information and evidence provided. If there is no evidence to suggest any changes then it is likely that the response will be to maintain the plan
The SEN team will continue to operate, but this may be limited availability by phone.
Preparing for adulthood
Earlier in the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, to reduce the pressures on the Adult Social Care team, the Preparing for Adulthood (PfA) team took over managing the majority transitions of young people who are aged 17.5-18 years. However, Adult Social Care Community teams are now able to take over the management of transitions to Adult Social Care (once the young person has turned 17 years old).
This means that the PfA team is returning to early preparation work and earlier engagement with young people and their families. Where the PfA team have started working with a young person and their family on the transition to adult services, the PfA will continue to support the young person until after their 18th birthday.
If your child’s EHCP contains a healthcare provision, please refer to this guidance from NHS Devon Clinical Care Group about continued access to health services.
Devon Information Advice and Support (DiAS) has lots of information to support parents and carers with children with SEND on their website.
Devon school nursing service
We have four public health nursing (PHN) hubs to improve access and responsiveness. All calls, referrals and correspondence are directed to the hubs where business support are co-located with duty clinicians.
Please only use Chat Health for health queries. Any appointment queries should be via PHN hub (phone or email). Please ensure you provide your contact details and full name and date of birth of child/young person in all calls and emails.
Single Point of Access (SPA)
You can access a range of specialist services via SPA. This includes services such as: Learning Disability Team, Speech and Language Therapy, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Occupational Therapy, Community Children’s Nursing Service, Autism Spectrum Assessment Service, Specialist Children’s Assessment Centres, Specialist School Nurses, Children in Care Service, Palliative Care Service, and Devon’s Family Information Service for Children with Additional Needs.
You can self refer and information to support this is available online or by speaking to one of the team.
Further support and contact
SEN Team (parents and schools)
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 01392 380434 available 10.00am to 12.00pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday.
Devon Information and Advice DIAS (parents)
- Website: https://www.devonias.org.uk
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 01392 383080 available 10.00am to 3.00pm, Monday to Friday