Specialist SEN Solicitor
1st February 2021
After the last couple of weeks, with a lot of guidance and other information being sent out by the Department for Education (DfE), which I shared with you here, as I made my way through this past week, it had seemed a bit quieter now on that front, so I therefore thought that my update this week could be a bit lighter.
However, just as I was packing up from work on Friday afternoon for the weekend (I finish earlier on Fridays), I received another very detailed email sent out by the DfE, this time entitled: '**SEND NEWSFLASH** UK disability survey; details of disability and access ambassadors; schools' SEND publication requirements & update on access to work funding' (do they pick their timings deliberately?)
So, rather than my telling you everything that it says here (which would then not allow me much room for anything else really), I am only going to refer to one main part of it below in my first section of this update, which I think will be useful to most people.
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The main part of the DfE's email, which I thought would help most people by my repeating here, states as follows:
'Duties on and expectations of schools over publishing material online
We have updated our summaries of the material that schools must or should publish online, including in relation to:
· SEN Information Reports, which need to be updated at least annually
· details of how a school complies with the public sector equality duty, with information which needs to be updated every year
· a school’s equality objectives, which need to be updated at least once every four years
· contact details of SENCos
Schools will also typically wish to publish the Accessibility Plan, that they have to update at least once every three years. Information as to that Plan needs to be included in their SEN Information Report.
There are no changes to the law and our guidance on publishing of the above, but in the updates of our summaries we have sought to bring together all the relevant material in one place and to set it out clearly.
We invite Heads, SENCOs and governors/trustees to consider whether the above material on their websites remains up to date.
The relevant links to our summaries of the requirements and expectations of schools are:
- for maintained schools, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/what-maintained-schools-must-publish-online
- for academies/free schools, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/what-academies-free-schools-and-colleges-should-publish-online
The other bit of Government information that I was already intending to bring you this week was from OFSTED and entitled: 'Remote education research (research and analysis)', whose introduction states:
'Since March 2020, the need for and the expectations placed on remote education have changed considerably. From the middle of March and for most of the summer term, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic led to school buildings in England being closed for most pupils. There was no requirement to provide remote education during this period, although some guidance was published. Schools were open to all pupils from September 2020 but, given the need for class and year group bubbles and self-isolating pupils, the Department for Education established a continuity directive for mandatory remote education. School buildings were again closed to most pupils in January 2021. From that point, remote education has been a requirement, so that pupils can continue with their learning.
At the beginning of January, we published guidance on ‘What is working well in remote education’. As England entered a third national lockdown, that short paper was intended to provide the sector with some immediate advice and reassurance on useful remote education approaches that had been distilled from our recent research activities.
Remote education matters. Until mass vaccination is achieved, local lockdowns, class and year group bubbles and individuals self-isolating are likely to remain part of daily life. This will have a continuing impact on schools’ capabilities in delivering a broad and balanced curriculum to all pupils. Schools are likely to continue to rely on remote solutions to provide coverage and mitigate against learning loss. Furthermore, evidence from our interim visits suggests that given the amount of time and resources that school leaders have placed into developing their remote solutions over the past 10 months, it is likely that schools will incorporate aspects of remote education into their teaching after the pandemic.
Understanding what successful remote education is has been a priority for Ofsted during the pandemic. Education providers have of course been learning ‘on the job’, and many will now be well advanced in their own understanding. This paper sets out what we have learned through our research and visits and we hope providers find it helpful.'
It's contents are set out then as follows:
Also, there were lots of thought-provoking new articles this week in the media - here's a few if you are interested:
- 'Knackered and confused.' That's just the parents
- Opening schools a national priority, says government
- Boris Johnson hopes schools in England will reopen from 8 March
- Covid-hit pupils 'should be allowed to repeat a year'
- Behind closed bedroom doors, a teenage mental health crisis is brewing
- Nursery staff are being treated like cannon fodder so 'higher-value' work can go on
- COVID-19: PM's letter praising families for efforts during pandemic criticised as 'kick in the teeth'
Where can I find further information?
Again, aside from clicking on the relevant links for more information, I would also remind you of the very useful resources and information provided on the following websites:
- Council for Disabled Children
- Special Needs Jungle
I would also highlight again the fact that you can now get digital copies of the magazines: SEN Magazine and Autism Eye which are both very helpful to any parents or professionals involved with children/young people with SEN.
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, so I would be very grateful if you could let me know of any that you find that other people may find useful, so that I can direct people to it.