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COVID-19 and EHC Plans

23 Mar 2020,

Guidance for parents and carers

Updated 20th March 2020

 

Following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday you may be aware that schools will remain open to provide childcare and support for vulnerable groups which may include some children with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and complex medical needs.

We hope the following guidance may be helpful.

If your child is part-way through an EHC Assessment

  • We will do our utmost to continue to meet the statutory deadlines set out in law. This includes:
    • Making a decision whether to proceed with the EHC assessment within 6 weeks of the date of the request.
    • Deciding whether to issue an EHC plan by week 16 of the EHC assessment.
    • Finalising an EHC plan by the end of week 20 of the EHC assessment.
  • Following national guidance, we are limiting the amount of face to face contact made by our Educational Psychologists, specialist teaching teams, health and care workers. Consequently, if you are due an EHC assessment visit by one of these workers, it is likely they will contact you directly to discuss your situation and agree upon a suitable way forward.
  • If we have already issued a Draft EHC plan, we would kindly ask that you respond in accordance with the deadline stated in the letter, so that we can try and move all cases on in a timely manner, to ensure that support is provided accordingly. It may be easier to email your response rather than post.

If your child has a Draft EHC Plan waiting to be made Final

  • We are working hard over the next few days to ensure all assessments which are ready to be finalised are done so.
  • In many cases we have been able to finalise the EHC plan naming the school of parental preference, and in full agreement with the named school.
  • In some cases we have had to take the pragmatic decision to name the child’s current school, even where this may not be the preferred setting, in order to ensure that the child is able to access the right entitlements alongside their peers. In these situations we are prepared to re-open the EHC plan in order to determine a change of named school, once we have a clearer understanding of the circumstances regarding school closures and re-openings in the summer term. Please do contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

If your child already has an EHC Plan

  • You should hear directly from your school regarding what offer of support and care is available to them throughout the school closure period.
  • As soon as further advice is provided by the Government, we will ensure that it is made available to all parents/carers of children, and young people with EHC Plans.
  • Plans are already in place to ensure that specialist and experienced teachers continue to be available to meet the needs of the most vulnerable learners in Bradford, and we will update you on these plans as soon as we can.

If you are awaiting a new, amended EHC Plan following a review

  • We are aware that there is a backlog of EHC Plans awaiting amendments and are working hard to try and reduce this backlog as quickly as possible, whilst ensuring they are of a good standard and compliant with the relevant legislation.
  • From April we will have a dedicated team working solely on catching up with these EHC Plan amendments. We are sorry for any delays you are experiencing.

Year 11 pupils and school leavers

  • Following the announcement made yesterday we appreciate that many young people in Year 11 and leaving school may be anxious about how the cancelled GCSEs may affect them.
  • As soon as more information is available from the government, we will ensure that it is made available.
  • If a child in Year 11 already has an EHC plan then we will continue to aim to issue a new, amended, Final EHC Plan which names the sixth form, college or other institution to which they will transfer in September 2020, by 31st March 2020 in line with the national deadline.

Contacting the SEND Team

  • We are trying where possible to maintain a normal level of service, and it may be helpful to consider the following points:
  • Please, where possible, email us rather than phone.
  • For general enquiries to our team, please use SEN@bradford.gov.uk.
  • In any correspondence, if you are willing, please provide your child’s date of birth and initials so that we can get your query to the appropriate person as soon as possible.
  • We will try to respond to all queries within three to five working days.

General advice

There are many charities, organisations and individuals out there with lots of hints, tips and support in place to make the next few months a little smoother. We would suggest keeping an eye on:

  • Schools – your Head Teachers and SENCos will be getting continual updates from both national and local sources of information, so it’s worth linking up with your key contacts in school to ensure you know what’s happening.
  • Twitter – there are lots of charities, legal companies and organisations providing advice to parents on their rights regarding children with SEND and EHCPs, as well as lots of ideas to help children understand what’s going on and keep them happy and healthy.
  • Bradford Local Offer (www.localoffer.bradford.gov.uk) and Bradford Schools Online (www.bso.bradford.gov.uk) – we will try and make sure that any updated advice and guidance is online on these sites, so please keep checking back for updates. The Educational Psychology Team have prepared some great advice for parents/carers which can be found here too.
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The Bradford SEND Local Offer is a free and impartial service provided by Bradford Council. The information contained within the website is available for the purposes of identifying services and provision that are available to children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities. This information does not represent a recommendation or an endorsement of a Service or Provider and neither does the Bradford Council or its partners make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy of the information.

Anyone seeking to use or access a service or provision is responsible for undertaking their own checks to determine the suitability and fitness for purpose of that service and provision. Some providers will be registered and inspected by external agencies, such as Ofsted or the Care Quality Commission. Anyone working with children and young people will be required to have appropriate Disclosure and Barring Service Check (the replacement for the Criminal Record Check), safeguarding policies and insurance in place, which they should make available to you on request.