Covid19 Update 26th March

Many thanks to everyone who responded yesterday to let us know whether you are open or closed. We heard from around one third of members. At present, around 75% of those schools are open to at least some children and young people. Of the 25% of schools that are currently closed, all bar one has plans to re-open between now and the start of the Summer term. Open schools are mainly providing limited support to small numbers of children but there are some settings that are still running at almost full capacity. If you haven’t yet updated us, we’d be happy to hear from you and we are keeping a running list of open/closed status. Please email details to cdorer@nasschools.org.uk

Late yesterday afternoon I joined colleagues from natspec, nasen, Special Schools Voice on a phone call to Children’s Minister Vicky Ford and DfE officials. Before the call, we had all submitted our key concerns – all of us independently raised access to PPE and virus testing for staff and students. I have met with a lot of Ministers since joining NASS and Vicky Ford rates highly! we all felt she listened and was willing to fight for our issues with Matt Hancock. She understands schools’ anxieties about access to PPE and will fight to get this into schools. However, it is clear that NHS and social care settings are the top priority at the moment. I am not sure what power she will be able to wield in Government but I do believe she will be a good advocate for schools.

We are likely to get further guidance for special schools from DfE but officials and the Minister want to take a few days to make sure that it is genuinely useful and doesn’t confuse messages as some of the past guidance has done. That seems like a good idea. in the meantime, you may have spotted Vicky Ford’s ‘open letter’ to SEND Providers yesterday.

The ‘Vulnerable groups in Education’ guidance was updated yesterday and is available here

Also useful for schools to be aware of is Special Needs Jungle’s piece on what guidance means for children with EHCPs Both of these documents are useful in clarifying that children with EHCPs are not legally entitled to keep attending school and that special schools may still need to close, if risk assessments indicate this is a safe and reasonable course of action.

Finally, there has also been new guidance released on early years provision which will be relevant to some members.

We have some specific issues that we are currently chasing for members:

  • How to make FSM provision/vouchers work for our schools during the pandemic
  • Pushing supermarkets to give access to school staff during key worker opening slots
  • Passing on details of any LAs threatening to withhold funding to ESFA

With all of these we will update everyone once we have responses.

Wishing you all great health and wellbeing!

Claire, Jenny, Karen and Kate

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