How to Support Children with SEND through the Covid-19 Lockdown
During the covid-19 pandemic, self-isolating and staying at home are priorities to prevent spread of coronavirus. At the end of March 2020, the UK Government demanded the closure of schools until further notice. While this is a hard time for all parents, staying at home can be more disruptive to the lives and routines of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
No one expects parents to act as teachers or to provide the activities and feedback that a school or nursery would. Parents and carers should do their best to help and support their children with their learning while they are at home.
If your child usually goes to school but is currently at home, their school should be working to provide them with work and giving them feedback in a format that meets their needs. It is a good idea to contact the school if you are not already in touch.
Coronavirus and SEND
Although it isn’t possible to cover every type of disability of special need, reachingfamilies.org.uk is a superb site that specialises in supporting SEND families. ReachingFamilies.org.uk has compiled the following links to specialist sites that might be able to help and support you during these unprecedented times. http://www.reachingfamilies.org.uk/coronavirus.html
Cerebral Palsy & Physical Disabilities
The government’s guide on social distancing is a good starting point for people who are most at risk from the coronavirus.
The government has provided guidance for adults with a learning disability about social distancing. This could be useful for parents who have a child/young person aged 16+. Access it here.
Carol Gray’s social story is a helpful resource for helping your child or young person with autism to understand the current situation.
Mencap have also produced a helpful easy read document.
If your child has a profound and multiple learning disability, you may find WellChild, the UK Children’s charity for seriously ill children, a useful starting point.
The Down’s Syndrome Association have produced an easy-read document about Coronavirus, which you can download here.
SEND education during covid-19
If you find yourselves having to isolate, you might find the following resources, compiled by Reaching Families, helpful.
In addition to the information below, Reaching Families have now published the first in a series of new fact sheets relating to the current pandemic. You can find the document, concerning Education Provision, in the coronavirus section on our fact sheets page.
Fordwater School have produced this lovely social story which helps to explain the Coronavirus to children with SEND. Social Story – ‘My School is Closing’
West Sussex County Council have created a very helpful guide: Supporting children’s wellbeing
Division of Educational and Child Psychology & British Psychological Society:
Support and advice for schools and parents/carers
Premier League Primary Stars: A wide collection of free, curriculum-linked activities to educate and entertain children at home.
Exercise and social distancing for families with children with SEND
Exercise is important for parents and children to support individual mental and emotional wellbeing. The government has clarified social distancing guidance for people whose disability or health needs requires them to exercise more than once a day.
Ordinarily, people may leave the house for exercise only once a day, for example to take a run or go for a cycle. This should be within the local area only, to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
However, if your child has a health need or disability that means they need to exercise more than once a day, it is fine to do so. Similarly, if your child has to take a specific form of exercise beyond the local area, it’s ok for you to take them there. This might be, for example, if your child has autism or learning disabilities.
The government advises that such exercise would ideally be in line with a care plan. And of course, it is still important to follow other social distancing rules such as keeping 2m away from other people.
If you find the information you read online about coronavirus confusing, visit our myth busting article here.
Carer’s Allowance during the Coronavirus outbreak
The government has changed the Carer’s Allowance rules during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You qualify for Carer’s Allowance if you provide at least 35 hours of care per week and your child is on the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate or if they get the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment.
During the Coronavirus outbreak the government has said that a break in caring can be ignored if either the disabled person or their carer having Coronavirus symptoms.
Alongside this, the charity Carers UK say that they have been told by the Department for Work and Pensions that emotional support, such as that provided by telephone or social media, will count as care in assessing if a carer is providing at least 35 hours per week care.
This is likely to help those carers who don’t share a household with the person that they look after and who may have reduced physical contact during the current outbreak.
For further information about caring for someone with coronavirus, visit our recent article here.
Those unable to work due to caring responsibilities can be furloughed by their employer
New guidance issued by the government on 4 April makes clear that employees who are unable to come to work due to caring responsibilities resulting from Covid-19 can be furloughed by their employer.
Originally it was thought that a worker could only be furloughed if there was no work for them to do and not where they were unable to attend their work or other reasons.
However, the revised guidance makes clear that this has now been extended to those unable to come to work due to caring responsibilities.
This means that if you are unable to work because you are caring for a child at home or because you are shielding a vulnerable household member, you might be able to get 80% of your wages paid via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
However, for this to happen your employer needs to agree to furlough you. They cannot be forced to do so if they don’t want to.
The revised guidance is available at the gov.uk website.
Here are a few links to on-line resources that you and your children might find interesting over the next few weeks. The list is not exhaustive and not all sites are appropriate for all children – but there is something for everyone. Here’s our top picks:
Audible: A collection of free audio stories from across six different languages.
BBC Learning: This is an old site and is no longer updated, but there is a lot that is still available, from language learning to BBC Bitesize for revision.
British Council: Resources for English language learning.
Big History Project: Aimed at Secondary age. Multi disciplinary activities.
Blue Peter Badges: If you have a stamp and a nearby post box.
Compass Card: General advice on leisure, learning and lock-down.
Oxford Owl for Home: Lots of free resources for Primary age children, including e-books.
Scratch: Creative computer programming.
Teaching Packs: Learning packs to print out, there are LOADS of them and each pack can be tailored to different learners.
Ted Ed: All sorts of engaging educational videos.
The Imagination Tree: Creative art and craft activities for the very youngest.
Twinkl: They are offering a month of free access to parents in the event of school closures. They also offer resources for children with special needs – look up SEN Resources on their website. Use the code UKTWINKLHELPS.
First Aid for Life provides award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs – Please visit our site and learn more about our practical and online courses. It is vital to keep your skills current and refreshed.
Onlinefirstaid.com – is a wealth of award-winning, comprehensive, online first aid courses that can be completed from your home.
It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit?https://firstaidforlife.org.uk?or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.
First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.
Special thank you to ReachingFamilies.org.uk for allowing us to share their great content about children with SEND during covid-19. Reaching Families was first established in 2008 by parent-carers to “…empower, inform and support parents and families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in West Sussex”. We achieve our mission through the delivery of a wide range of high-quality projects and services, including:
Making Sense of it All
Their parent-carer guide, Making Sense of It All, is often referred to as the “parent-carer Bible” by West Sussex parents. Designed to inform and empower parents of children with SEND aged 0-14 it is full of information on a wide range of subjects including diagnosis, benefits & money matters, getting support for your child at school, accessing support from health and social care and local leisure opportunities. It also contains a directory of over 400 local and national organisations and an extensive jargon buster.