by Douglas Silas, specialist SEN solicitor
Following the very welcome reception that I received last week to my update, in particular to my sharing resources available, I am going to concentrate in my update this week with bringing you other information/resources that I have found on the web this week.
I hope that this helps people again.
1. What has happened this week?
Although children and young people are now officially on their Easter holidays, I know that many people who are home-schooling recently have found it quite difficult to engage their children (both with SEN and without SEN) in learning, especially if they have also been trying to work at home.
There has been a bit more of a flurry of activity in the last week on the web, as many people have probably by now realised that the significant impact of the Covid-19/coronavirus situation is probably going to be here to stay for some time.
Although there have been a lot of educational resources provided for children who are doing online learning, as well as lots of other useful information being provided by many people/organisations, I have tried in this week's update to boil the information below down to only those which I think are of more significant help to as many people as possible. This does not mean though that there are not other good resources out there, but I may not yet have come across these.
(If you have found something else that you think will benefit others, please do let me know, so that I can tell others).
I have tried to separate the below into four kinds of information, as follows:
• Government information
• Financial information
• Educational resources
• Legal information
The first thing that I want to highlight is current Government guidance:
• First again, there is the "Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance on Vulnerable Children and Young People”, which you can find here.
• There is also the "Guidance for Parents and Carers for Supporting Children and Young People's Mental Health and Well-being during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak”, which you will find here.
• Then there is the revised “Guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” which now points out those people unable to work due to caring responsibilities, can now be furloughed by their employer (which came out on 6/4/2020), which you can find about on Contact’s website here and on the Government’s website here.
• There is also now clarification that are free school meal vouchers will continue for the Easter holidays, more details of which you can read about on the BBC’s website here).
• There is also the fact that the Government has announced a hardship fund to provide Council Tax support to vulnerable people in households affected most by coronavirus, more details of which you find on Scope’s website here and on the Government’s website here.
• In addition, there is a lovely roundup of resources currently available for people on the Disabled Children's Partnership "Coronavirus Help and Support” page on Scope’s website, which you can find here.
• In terms of educational resources, the Government has also now provided support for schools and parents with educational resources that will help children learn at home, which you can find here.
• There is also a nice round up of resources that are available both educationally and generally on the Special Needs Jungle website, which you can find here.
• There is also a nice update on "Ways to keep your kids entertained during lockdown" that appears on the Scope website, which you will find here.
(In addition, there are a number of websites offering educational resources, which you can find under the Twitter feed "#homelearning”).
• In terms of what is happening on the law concerning SEN generally, you may benefit from the webinar presentation produced by the team at 39 Essex Chambers, which you will find on their website here.
• There are also helpful articles answering questions about the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the legal duties of local authorities, education institutions and childcare providers towards children with SEN and disabilities on the Irwin Mitchell website, which you can find here.
• There is also free access now to individual Chapters of “Disabled children: A legal handbook" which is in its third edition now and is written by Steve Broach and Luke Clements, which you can find on the Council for Disabled Children's website here.
2. What does this all mean?
Whilst this should feel helpful theoretically, there is always a practical difficulty when you are faced with a number of different bits of information or resources, as to whether it is really helpful to you, or whether it actually just overwhelms you!
The trick that I have found personally over the years, is to initially look at everything and triage it according to its benefit and importance. You then need to make a personal decision about whether that information is really useful to you or not (or whether it is also worth sending to somebody else if you don’t need it, in case it may actually benefit them, even though it may not benefit you).
The worst thing that you can do though is to open up all of the above links/resources and then leave them there waiting for you to return to them at a later time. The more time that then goes by will only increase your anxiety over it.
What I have found with these kind of things (and in life generally) is that it is always better to deal with something at the time, rather than leaving it until later to return to, to look at it properly. As people often say, you may actually never get the time to look at it properly.
This is especially if you are now trying to work at home with children running about who need to be entertained!
3. Where can I find further information?
Personally I often find it find more helpful to watch a video to help explain things to me if I am able to, rather than just reading text, which is sometimes more difficult to decipher.
Finally, I would again remind you of the very useful resources and information provided on the following websites:
- Council for Disabled Children
- Special Needs Jungle
Remember also, that there are also other videos on this website, especially the one at the top of this page which explains the coronavirus and its effect clearly to children.
Keep safe until next week.
With best wishes
P.S I understand that there are a number of educational or other useful resources now on the web - I would be very grateful if you could let me know of any that people are finding useful, so that I can direct others to them.
P.P.S. I also want to highlight again the fact that there are currently a lot of scams out there, both online and through texts/WhatsApps. Please be extremely careful and help yourself and others not to become victims. You can learn more at: www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk.