Written evidence submitted by Council for Disabled Children, Special Educational Consortium

 

The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services

A response from the Special Educational Consortium

 

The Special Educational Consortium (SEC) is a membership organisation that comes together to protect and promote the rights of disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs (SEN). Our membership includes the voluntary and community sector, education providers and professional associations. SEC believes that every child and young person is entitled to an education that allows them to fulfil their potential and achieve their aspirations.

SEC identifies areas of consensus across our membership and works with the Department for Education, Parliament, and other decision-makers when there are proposals for changes in policy, legislation, regulations and guidance that may affect disabled children and young people and those with SEN. Our membership includes nationally recognised experts on issues including assessment and curriculum, schools and high needs funding, the SEN legal framework, exclusions and alternative provision.

Summary of feedback:

 

Our feedback covers 3 distinct periods of the pandemic:

  1. During lockdown
  2. During the Reintegration to schools and settings
  3. For the future

 

 

1 - During lockdown:

 

 

 

2 - During the Reintegration to schools and settings:

 

 

 

3 - For the future:

Planning for the future, or even guessing how things might look even in 6 months time, is a challenging task. But, there are some overarching issues which we feel are highly likely to be relevant in the long term:

 

 

In conclusion, following Philippa Stobbs’ evidence on behalf of SEC at the Education Select Committee formal hearing on 1st July, we received a number of letters from parents. With consent, we attach in the appendix one example which sums up the feelings and views of many who have been in touch with us.

 

Chris Rees

Coordinator, Special Educational Consortium

July 2020

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

Hi

 

I have just read a short article where you have talked about how families of SEND children feel abandoned. This brief insight published made me feel not as alone in this.

 

My 14 year old son has ADHD, is raised in all traits and after me asking for help and fighting the system for 11 years he was finally diagnosed on 28th February this year. I'm sure you can understand some of the terrible experiences we have had while fighting for this.

 

As a result of his assessment and diagnosis all professionals involved have expressed their shock at how well he has done in not being expelled considering the severity of his condition.

 

I must say we have felt judged and let down by the education system since he started school, however, I most certainly feel abandoned now.

 

My son is in year 10, was struggling to keep on top of his studies and come to terms with what his ADHD means for him when the pandemic hit. To begin with I saw this as a golden opportunity to tap in to his abilities and learning style. However, with both my husband and I juggling full time work as well this has not been easy. There has been no extra support provided for him from his school, the teachers don't even mark and feedback on the work he does do nor use it to identify areas he is struggling to plan his next lesson. He has no offer of face to face provision like his peers as he has had to drop all his subjects except maths, English and science to give him the best chance to pass these and so does not need to attend for practical lessons as per the schools offer. I've asked the SEN Co if they could arrange something for him alone or part of a small group, as I'm sure he's not the only one, only to be told this is not possible with no reason. I've asked his subject teachers if they could provide extra live lessons, or weekly catch ups via video chat again for him or as part of a small group, as he's not going to be the only one struggling, to be told they're not allowed to do this.

 

For the past 3 weeks he has had live lessons on Google meet twice a week, which have been great, but it's not enough.

 

Due to this lack of support I'm not sure how anyone with his needs is going to be able to return to school, catch up, stay on top of lessons being offered and then pass his GCSEs. Passing these were always going to be a mammoth challenge for him, but now I cannot see how this will be possible and every time I ask or suggest something that might help I'm simply told no.

 

We're all living through this pandemic and I do not wish to pass judgement on the staff who have been working hard through a minefield of the unknown and moving goal posts but I have to consider my sons needs over this and his needs simply are not being met, again.

 

If you've made it to the end of this email, I appreciate you are very busy, I'd like to say thank you. I hadn't meant to share so much I simply wanted to echo what I saw in the article as our own experience.

 

Thank you for reading our experience, thank you for speaking out so families like us and those with far more challenging situations don't feel so alone, abandoned, ignored and frustrated with a system that seems to repeatedly let our children down.

 

With kindness

 

September 2020

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