Expiry of temporary changes to special educational needs and disability (SEND) legislation
Prospect has now seen the DfE response to a consultation on whether to extend again or end emergency changes to statutory timescales arrangements. We have been informed that Ministers are intending to not renew these modifications when they expire on 25 September 2020.
These were put in place to give legal protection to Local Authorities and Health Providers and other bodies with statutory roles, who found themselves in circumstances where they were unable to meet timescales for Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan needs assessments, or make the provision in EHC plans due to the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We know that the emergency measures were unpopular with parents and voluntary organisations who we work with, who saw them as eroding their hard won entitlements to provision for their children with SEND. Prospect’s Education and Children’s Services Group (ECSG) understands this view and many members across Prospect are parents of children with SEND and share these views. However, we also have members who are in roles within this area who have expressed their concern about reverting to the pre-COVID-19 position before all the elements of the infrastructure of support are back in their original positions and while there remain significant pressures as schools return and examination chaos is managed, for example.
In addition to the resourcing challenges of well-deserved annual leave, we understand that not all occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and physiotherapists are returned to their posts, having been re-deployed to support the rehabilitation of COVID patients, which will affect their ability to write reports for needs assessments and to provide intervention in issued plans.
This decision and new guidance for existing please click here around it needs to be sent out to bodies with statutory roles as a matter of urgency.
We have raised these points with DfE and we are particularly interested in members who are in the front line and are willing to share their experiences in implementing these changed arrangements, on a confidential basis. We will consider that feedback in our on-going dialogue with DfE.