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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Information and support for families of children with special educational needs and disabilities

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We know this is a difficult and anxious time for families coping with the worry of the coronavirus pandemic, the changes it has bought to our lives, and the reality of social isolation.   We hope this developing page can provide some virtual support to you and your family. 

Useful links:

  • The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

    Phone: 0800 046 8687
    Opening hours: 8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday 

    If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline. 

  • Family Hub Emergency Assistance Grant for food and essential supplies

 

Support emotional well-being following COVID-19 pandemic - September 20

SCC & Educational Psychology Service

A range of emotional wellbeing materials are available to help support children, young people, parents and carers.

Health Education England - September 2020

NHS

Information and resources about coronavirus.  Sections on:

  • Accessible formats including a coronavirus picture vocabulary

  • Children and young people

  • Carers

  • Cancer and coronavirus

  • Life long conditions

  • Mental wellbeing

  • Looking after yourself. 

Supporting your child’s return to school during COVID-19

Revised guidance on face coverings- August 2020

As a result of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new statement on the 21 August, the government has revised its guidance on face coverings for staff and children in Year 7 or above in England: 

  • Nationwide, while the government is not recommending face coverings are necessary, schools will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas if they believe that is right in their particular circumstances. 

  • In areas where transmission of COVID-19 is high, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils in secondary schools when moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.  

This revised approach will also apply to further education colleges and will be reflected in guidance to universities, but does not apply to children in primary schools where the risks to children are lower.  

Information for parents and carers about going back to schools, nurseries and colleges in the autumn term - August 2020

Coronavirus Newsletter - Helpful information for parents of children with SEND - Updated August 2020

SENDIASS logo

SENDIASS Weekly Coronavirus Updates for Parents of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Edition 9

  • On-line programme from The Prince's Trust
  • Locally-run activities
  • Keeping busy at home
  • Stay safe online this Summer 

Edition 8

  • Online education updates
  • National education catch up programme to be funded
  • Mental health support for pupils
  • An update from the CYP Autism Service
  • How you can have your say
  • The Summer Reading Challenge

Edition 7

  • Resources to help children with SEND who are returning to school
  • The latest government advice and information relating to children and young people
  • Virtual session on temporary changes to SEND law
  • SEND adapted Barclays LifeSkills lesson plans
  • Virtual activities for Staffordshire's children and young people with SEND

Edition 6

Government funding to support children with complex needs

  • Supporting children and young people with their mental health
  • 'Introduction to Autism' workshop online from CYP Autism Service
  • Staffordshire Libraries Services online 
  • Training and information to help you keep your child safe online

Edition 5

  • SEND children returning to school
  • new Family Hubs for each district of Staffordshire
  • new health app finder tool
  • relaxed requirements for Traineeships
  • home learning resources for children with specific SEND
  • Safe+Sound learning programme

Edition 4

  • free online lessons for children from reception to year 10

  • new helpline for parents struggling with home-schooling & difficulties arising from SEND

  • relaxed lockdown rules for those who need it due to their health needs

  • accessing health care for your children during the lockdown

  • a new service set up to support those in isolation called Help Hub

Edition 3

  • what is happening with EHC needs assessments and plans

  • financial help for families who have a child with SEND

  • how you can help to shape how SEND children are supported

  • Young Professional FREE training 

  • help available for parents/carers

  • online courses for parents of children with SEND

Edition 2

  • services providing support.

  • how you could help efforts to support the most vulnerable

  • free courses for 15 - 24 year olds

  • emotional wellbeing

  • talking to your child about coronavirus

  • keeping children and young people safe when online

Edition 1

  • the latest on what is happening with schools and other education settings for children with SEND

  • tips and ideas for staying at home

  • support services that may be able to help and support you either online or over helplines

New Family Hubs - Updated July 2020

SCC Logo

Coronavirus has changed the way we live, work and learn. 

We know that family life is a little bit harder at the moment, that's why we’ve created 8 hubs of help for families across Staffordshire.

How can we help?

Contact your local Family Hub to:

Ways to connect with your Family Hub

You can connect with your local Family Hub on Facebook, by phone, text and email

Contact details and links for the Family Hubs

Local Family Hubs Facebook pages:

Looking for financial support? £37m has been provided to support children with complex needs - July 2020

Gov.uk logo

If you are a family with children that have complex needs and disabilities you can receive grants for vital equipment.  The grants aim to make your life easier while implementing social distancing measures.  It includes computers, specialist equipment and educational toys.

£10 million of the total has been committed specifically in response to the unique difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic, helping parents educate and look after disabled or critically ill children who are staying at home more than usual.

The grants will help low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with the cost of equipment, goods or services - from washing machines and refrigerators to sensory and educational equipment.

The grants are typically worth £400 to £500 per family, but vary depending on need.

Families can find out more and apply for a grant through the Family Fund

Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for full opening - July 2020

Department for Education

July's Briefing from André Imich, SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, DfE.

Covers:

  • Feedack from children and young people about how they feel about going back to school and would would help.

  • Full return the key messages

    • The prevalence of coronavirus has decreased.

    • The NHS Test and Trace system is up and running.

    • Clarity about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments within education settings.

    • Time out of an education setting is detrimental to social, cognitive, academic and health development, esp. for disadvantaged  children and young people.

    • The risk to children and young people themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus is very low.

All children and young people, in all year groups and setting types, are expected to return to education settings, full time, from the beginning of the autumn term.

  • Guidance for all schools, including special and other specialist settings.

  • System of control

  • Social Distancing

  • Risk assessments

  • Transport

  • Wider issues - Temporary legislative changes, Covid-19 LA SEND Service Data Collection, Transition – post-16, Local area inspections

Key guidance documents:

Supplementary Slides (not used in briefing):

  • Contingency planning for outbreaks

  • Local lockdowns/ The Leicester situation

  • Exams

  • Short Breaks

  • Early Year Settings

  • Further Education

  • Extending provision in a school setting for those aged 19 and over

  • Suported internships

  • Split placements

  • Summer support

  • Children who spit

  • Curriculum planning

  • Equipment and Resources

  • Teachers who teach multiple classes

  • Staff who are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable

  • Ofsted

  • SEND Single Route of Redress

Childcare from 20th July - July 2020

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Due to the relaxing of restrictions by government, childcare settings can welcome back more children from 20th July, this also includes holiday playschemes and out of school clubs also being allowed to re-open whether on a school site or not.

If you are a critical worker and need urgent childcare please contact our team at: eeac@staffordshire.gov.uk

Advice and Guidance:

  • More information on schools and childcare settings re-opening from 20th July can be found on the government website
  • If you are looking for advice, guidance or help, related to Covid19 in Staffordshire please visit Staffordshire County Council's main website
  • Some childcare settings on this website may not re-open from 20th July

Gov.uk and Other Useful Guidance

Gov.uk logo

GOV.UK Guidance

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) Guidance

How the wider opening of schools and other educational settings may affect your family? - June 2020

Department for Education, Vicky Ford

Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families has written a letter to all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, their parents/carers and families, and others who support them. It explains how the wider opening of schools and other educational settings may affect your family. It includes links to various gov.uk guidance and support available. 

Minister Ford's Letter dated 30 May 2020 to the SEND Sector - Schools Opening 

Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening - May 2020

Free online training for young people - May 2020

  • The Training Initiative has developed a range of virtual courses for 15-24 year olds designed for learners to make the most of their time away from their education, and give them the qualifications related to careers they may have an interest in after they have completed their education.

    These courses are fully funded by the European Social Fund. The programmes will be delivered through a combination of self-study, online, virtual classes and 1:1 sessions, with a priority being on keeping learners engaged and ensuring they are thoroughly supported through their studies.

    The programmes include: 

> Digital Marketing

> Personal Assistant/Virtual Assistant

> Fitness Instructor

> Teaching Assistant

> Event Planner

> Beautician

Eligibility. Learners should be 15 - 24 years old and not currently in education, training or employment (including those missing out on education due to COVID-19).

For enquiries call 01827 216171 or email enquiries@thetraininginitiative.co.uk

  • Youth Employment UK is offering young people aged 14 - 24 years old the chance to boost the top 5 life and work skills through an online programme. Young people will have the opportunity to complete free skills training and print their certificates, as well as being able to access careers planning support and a wealth of information about things like careers choices, money issues and mental health.

    The Young Professional programme aims to develop the top 5 life skills that employers look for:

    > Self belief
    > Communication
    > Self-management
    > Team work
    > Problem-solving
  • Safe+Sound live learning programme 

    On Wednesdays at 10am Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be broadcasting a live learning programme for children in Key Stage 2. Children will learn about many different subjects around health and safety.

Education Health and Care (EHC) assessments - April 2020

We're working hard to keep the EHC plan process moving. Assessments for an EHC plan may look different as it becomes more difficult to do our work face to face. We may need to do more by telephone or video calls where possible. Our decision-making panels are moving to online meetings. We'll continue to review this.

We're working hard to keep the EHC plan process moving. Assessments for an EHC plan may look different as it becomes more difficult to do our work face to face. We may need to do more by telephone or video calls where possible. Our decision-making panels are moving to online meetings. We'll continue to review this.

Online educational resources - April 2020

  • Oak National Academy online classroom and resource hub. The Oak National Academy has launched its online classroom and resource hub. The Academy offers 180 video lessons each week for schools to use, across a broad range of subjects. The lessons cover children in Reception through to Year 10 and are free to use by both teachers and young people.

  • BBC Bitesize - The BBC has launched an education package for Year 1 to Year 10 across TV and online.  It features celebrities and teachers, helping to keep children and young people learning at home and supporting parents. 

Home learning resources for children with specific SEND

Hearing impairments

Visual impairments

Speech, language and communication

Physical impairments, balance and coordination

  • Bumble Bee Physio - adapted virtual live physical activity sessions (weekdays at 11am)
  • GriffinOT - fine motor skills and sensory processing videos (new video each weekday)

Print disabilities (any difficulty or inability to read text on paper)

Learning difficulties / disabilities

  • Chatterpack - adapted home learning curriculum (free for families)
  • Doorway Online - free and highly accessible educational games
  • SENict - educational accessible activities for those with complex needs

Various SEND

  • Twinkl - offers learning resources for many different types of SEND (use code UKTWINKLHELPS when registering to gain free access during the coronavirus pandemic)

Helpline for parents who are struggling with home-schooling

StarLine is a new national home learning helpline offering expert information and advice to parents and carers. They can support with:

  • Home learning queries
  • Strategies to manage behaviour
  • Strategies to support children's wellbeing
  • Supporting children who have special educational needs

Call 0330 313 9162

Other online educational resources:

  • Oxford Owl for Home is free and full of activities and fun ideas for parents/carers to help keep children building the skills and knowledge they need whilst schools are closed. 
  • Twinkl: Free: educational resources that can be used at each step of a child's learning journey.  Twinkl offer ‘School closure learning packs’ and educational resources across all Key Stages to include Early Years, SEND and English as a Second Language.
  • PlayHooray - activities for babies and young children that use items from around the house. 
  • Cosmic kids - yoga, mindfulness & relaxation designed especially for kids aged 3+.
  • Early Education: Free resources and ideas for early years. 
  • SCC website - early years supporting education at home
  • Chatterpack - home learning resources 
  • BBC Live Teach - Bring your subject to life with interactive lessons featuring some of the BBC's biggest brands and presenters
  • BBC Super Movers -  is a collaboration between the BBC and the Premier League to help get kids moving even in limited spaces, and is easy to implement in your own home. Packed full of fun activities designed to get kids moving, Super Movers is curriculum-linked, so you can be sure that they’re learning as they stay active, even in the confines of your living room.
  • BBC Food - How to teach the curriculum through cooking
  • Joe Wicks PE lesson 9-10 every day on Youtube
  • NRICH - maths resources.  Includes games and activies for 5-18 year olds.
  • IXL - maths, reception to Year 13
  • STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths resources, primary to post 16
  • Special Education and Inclusive Learning - sensory learning activities.
  • RSPB - becoming a wildlife detective, learn how to provide food, water, and homes for nature, and see what you can spot in your own garden.
  • TED Talks - fun, informative & captivating talks to inspire young minds 
  • National Geographic Kids -amazing facts about animals, science, history and geography, along with fun competitions, games and more.
  • Action Jackson:- Happy Life Academy. Access is Free for Teachers, Parents and Students alike. You would just need to register by using your email address and creating a password.   Action Jackson has been running a Daily Dose of Motivation show on Youtube MondayFriday at 10 am.
  • National Literacy Trust – Family Zone - Ideas and guidance for simple activities that will engage your children at home, while also benefiting their reading, writing and language development. Free resources.
  • Services for Education - Inforamtion and esources for parents on Early Years, Emotional and pysical health, maths, english, science, RE and spirituality, music, general activities

Disclaimer:

Staffordshire Connects are not responsible for the content of third party websites. It is recommended that you always check with providers that their service or organisation meets your requirements. We offer an impartial service and we cannot recommend or endorse any providers listed.

Direct Payments and Personal Assistant Employment- Frequently Asked Questions- April 2020

Get help with technology and remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19) - April 2020

Laptops and tablets will be made available to help the most disadvantaged young people access online learning and social care services. Young people and families eligible for devices must not already have access to one, and must be in one of the following groups:

  • Children with a social worker
  • Care leavers
  • Disadvantaged children in Year 10, ahead of sitting their GCSEs next year.

Further information is available on the Gov.uk website.

Keeping your child safe online - April 2020

There are lots of fantastic opportunities for children to access learning resources online, but it's important for parents to know their children are safe while doing this.

There is a lot of support available to keep your child safe online including the below useful links to help parents and carers:

  • Thinkyouknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
  • Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Net-aware (support for parents and carers from the NSPCC)

Aiming High virtual support and things to do at home - April 2020

Aiming High Short Breaks

  • Aiming High - Virtual Support. Aiming High providers are working hard to develop ways of providing support to young people without them having to leave their homes.  Further details will be posted on our Aiming High page.

Library Service

Staffordshire Library and Arts Service have produced a really useful downloadable Family Resource Pack which you can view online or print.

Things to do at home

  • Caudwell Children have developed a unique collection of free Kids Activity Packs, designed especially for disabled children.  Every week, there will be a new pack of activity sheets delivered toyou via email once you have signed up via their website.
  • Cosmic kids - yoga, mindfulness & relaxation designed especially for kids aged 3+
  • Joe Wicks PE lesson 9-10 every day on Youtube
  • RSPB - becoming a wildlife detective, learn how to provide food, water, and homes for nature, and see what you can spot in your own garden.
  • Action Jackson has been running a Daily Dose of Motivation show on Youtube MondayFriday at 10 am.
  • The Great Indoors - 100 indoor activities by Scouts
  • Cbeebies - things to do indoors
  • Childline - Calm Zone
  • Childline - Games
  • Change4Life - ideas for indoor games, activities and healthy treats.
  • Harry Potter at Home - where you’ll find all the latest magical treats to keep you occupied - including special contributions from Bloomsbury and Scholastic, nifty magical craft videos (teach your friends how to draw a Niffler!), fun articles, quizzes, puzzles and plenty more for first-time readers, as well as those already familiar with the wizarding world. 
  • Headspace - Reliable and relevant videos from Headspace
  • Bloomsbury - Resources to download and links to your favourite authors’ websites.
  • Book Trust Home Time - Looking for something fun as a family? Free online books and videos, games, win prizes, test your knowledge in book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.
  • Craft Council - Crafts for Home Schooling
  • DK Stay at Home Hub - Great activities for children of all ages and adults, brought to you by Dorling Kindersley.
  • Hungry Little Minds - Simple, fun activities for kids up to to five.
  • Kids in Museums - Links to museums, activities, virtual tours and online learning resources. Everything from The Mary Rose to The Roald Dahl Museum.
  • National Shelf Service - Daily book recommendations on You Tube from librarians across the Country. You can also search #NationalShelfService on social media
  • Penguin - Articles, games and activities from Penguin Random House UK
  • Shakespeare Week - Kids’ Zone – free activities for children.
  • 64 Million Artists - Creative ideas for home schooling and daily challenges.

Disclaimer:

Staffordshire Connects are not responsible for the content of third party websites. It is recommended that you always check with providers that their service or organisation meets your requirements. We offer an impartial service and we cannot recommend or endorse any providers listed.

When should I seek medical help for my child - information for parents and carers during the coronavirus outbreak? - April 2020

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health leaflet

Whilst coronavirus is infectious to children it is rarely serious. If your child is unwell it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness, rather than coronavirus itself. 

Whilst it is extremely important to follow Government advice to stay at home during this period, it can be confusing to know what to do when your child is unwell or injured. Remember that NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are still providing the same safe care that they have always done. 

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced a poster for parents.  A copy can be found in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent's April 2020 Child Death Prevention newsletter which is available in our download section.

Talking to your child about the coronavirus- April 2020

Autism Outreach Team - Support and Resources Facebook Page is now live - April 2020

Easy read coronavirus information - April 2020

Mediation and Disagreement Resolution Service - April 2020

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Global Mediation is continuing to offer mediation and disagreement resolution services to parents, carers and young people, although meetings now take place virtually in all cases.

The Provider is routinely discussing with parents/carers and the SEND Team the best way to facilitate meetings given that individual access to ICT can vary.  Currently the County Council’s ICT does not support the use of Zoom however other software and methods are available and can be explored to ensure that meetings continue to take place.  The Provider is not currently reporting any delays which may impact on statutory timescales however Global Mediation will alert the Local Authority promptly should this happen.

Children with Disabilities – short breaks and support with care at home - April 2020

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  • All Aiming High group activities have been ceased for the foreseeable future, however many of our providers are delivering virtual activities, guides and activity packs for parents which they can undertake at home with their children instead over the Easter period and coming weeks.  You can find out more here.

  • It’s important to remind families that our Overnight Short Breaks service run by Action for Children remains open and staff will be taking all necessary precautions to keep children safe during their stays through the Covid-19 pandemic.  Now as much as ever it’s important families supporting children with disabilities at home do get breaks from their caring roles from time to time.   We’ve noticed many families are cancelling their short breaks and would want to reassure them the service will remain open, safe and accessible to be there for them when they need it through the spring and summer.

  • Similarly all Community Based Support/Home care will continue to be available for children with the most complex needs and appropriate measures are in place to ensure the safety and continuity of those services.  We are working with our providers to ensure they have sufficient funding and staff coverage to manage care throughout the Covid-19 crisis and we are also identifying volunteers through our staff ‘iCount’ and community ‘iCare’ programmes to ensure help is there when you need it if you normally have the support of one of our care providers to help you care for your child.  Again we know a number of families are isolating themselves and cancelling support and we’d want to reassure them that this support WILL continue to be available for them when they need it.

Speech Therapy - April 2020

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Logo

Children and young people who have speech and language needs identified in Section F of their Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  This is provided by Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust.   All children and young people have up to date targets and plans and will receive telephone contact support from therapists.  This will be at the frequency outlined in the EHCP, to the school – if the child is in school - or the home.

Specialist Services - April 2020

SCC logo

The specialist teaching services for children and young people with autism, hearing impairment or vision impairment will continue to work through telephone and on-line communication. Staff based in schools will continue to be available unless required to self isolate. Please liaise with your named contact for further information.

ASSIST are continuing to offer interpreting services via virtual means.

Financial help for families with a child who has SEND - April 2020

Family Fund's grant for families with a disabled child

Family Fund is the UK's largest charity providing grants for families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. Family Fund believes that all families raising seriously ill children and young people should have the same opportunities as others. We provide grants and services that support a family, improve their wellbeing, increase quality of life and ease many of the pressures they often face.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with living costs if you are on a low income. Many families who were not previously eligible for Universal Credit may now be eligible if their income has dropped due to COVID-19. Your Universal Credit amount may be higher if you, your child or someone else in your household has a disability. A further top up amount is available to those who are providing care for more than 35 hours per week for someone who is disabled or seriously ill.

Click here to check how much you could get using the benefits calculator on the Turn2us website
Click here to find out more about Univeral Credit and apply online.

Advice for those in financial difficulty

If you are experiencing financial difficulty due to COVID-19 the Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice have a wealth of information about the financial support that may be available, as well as money advice to help during these difficult times.

Click here to visit the Money Advice Service website
Click here to visit the Citizen's Advice website

Help available for parents/carers - April 2020

  • Carers Hub - The Carers Hub is a support service for people who care, including parents of child with SEND. Since face-to-face support and groups have had to temporarily stop running, the Carers Hub is offering the following services:

    > telephone support for adult or young carers
    > online advice and information
    > emotional wellbeing and befriender calls
    > WhatsApp carer support groups > virtual tea and coffee mornings

  • Action for Children - Action for Children have increased their support for parents. You can seek 1:1 advice from a trained parenting coach online, and you can browse through loads of information to help you at home during the Coronavirus lockdown.

  • SENDIASS - provide information, advice and support to parents, carers, children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.  They can be contacted by emailing: sfps@staffordshire.gov.uk or by calling their temporary helpline telephone number on 07891 599 662.

FREE online SEND training for parents/carers - April 2020

Parents/carers can develop knowledge of special educational needs, disabilities and young people's mental health with these online courses:

Coronavirus study by University of Sussex - Impact of COVID 19 on family life, relationships and wellbeing - April 2020

University of Sussex COVID 19 Study flyer

Do you have a primary aged child (between the ages of 4-11 years old)? Would you be interested in participating in a study being undertaken by the University of Sussex?

They are interested in learning about how families throughout the UK respond to the changes made during the coronavirus outbreak. They are looking to track the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on family life, emotional well-being, and social relationships.

More information and to complete the questionnaire.