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EHC Assessments and Plans During the Covid-19 Outbreak

 

Portsmouth City Council SEN Team

Covid-19 Interim Arrangements – Information for Parents, Schools and Partners

Portsmouth City Council is following the most recent Government advice regarding the current Covid-19 pandemic. This means that we have had to significantly change the way some Portsmouth City Council services are working.

The Government advice about Coronavirus (Covid-19) is that staff should work from home if possible and must adhere to social distancing requirements, therefore the SEN team are working remotely from home. The Team are contactable by email and phone and at this stage all written communications are being sent electronically via secure email or School Secure Environment (SSE), rather than post.

Please try to avoid sending post into the office, if possible, as there are limited opportunities to collect it. Please either email your link worker if you have a specific query, or for general enquiries email sen.education@secure.portsmouthcc.gov.uk

In light of the remote working arrangements, it may take us longer than usual to respond to you.

Please see below for some details of how we will continue with our essential work:-

UPDATE! – There have been temporary changes applied to the law with regards to Education Health and Care Plans – A JOINT MINISTERIAL LETTER FROM MINISTERS FORD & WHATELY explaining the changes can be read here.

Click here to go back to the main Local Offer Coronavirus page.

EHC Needs Assessment and Planning Covid-19 outbreak information

Update on temporary changes to SEND Laws and Statutory duties - 01/05/2020

Information for parents and carers 1st May 2020

I am writing to let you know about some temporary changes that have been announced by the government to the way that we support children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans from 1st May 2020.

All other statutory duties are the same as before. Coproduction with families remains an important aspect of the way that we work.
We are committed to working in coproduction with families wherever possible. With that in mind, I have included some further details of the changes below:

1. Provision
• The council and health services are required to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to provide what is in an EHCP.
• This means that we will consider for every individual child/young person what support should be provided at this time.
• For most children and young people, the support described in their EHCP will be different during the current coronavirus crisis. .
• Your child’s school will have contacted you already to carry out a risk assessment with you. We will use this information to decide what support should be provided. We will review this if the situation changes.

2. Timescales
• It may be necessary for professionals to carry out assessments for EHCPs in different ways, due to the need for social distancing. There may also be occasions where there are delays to assessments being completed due to the current coronavirus crisis.
• Is your child’s assessment of delayed. We will keep you informed.
• Even when there is a delay, we will ensure assessment is completed as soon as it is possible to do so.

3. Annual Reviews
• Annual Reviews will continue to take place, but they may need to take place remotely. Your child or young person’s school, college or early years setting will be in touch with you to discuss how best to do this.

We will continue to work closely in partnership with families to ensure that children and young people receive the support they need in these unusual times. If you are struggling to support your child or young person at home, please discuss this with your child or young person’s SENCo in the first instance. If you need any more information or advice, please contact us  or send a message via the local offer website.

 

You can read the government guidance by clicking here

Decision Making during the Covid-19 outbreak

Decision making

Whilst we are adhering to the social distancing requirements, the SEN Inclusion Support Panel (ISP) will not take place until further notice.

Decisions about SEN issues including requests for Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, and issuing an Education, Health and Care Plan at the end of an assessment will be made by SEN Managers via weekly video call, and will seek further information and/or views from appropriate Education, Health and Care professionals if necessary.

 

Education Health and Care ( EHC) Needs Assessments during the Covid-19 outbreak

 

EHC Needs Assessments

We will prioritise completing EHC needs assessments and producing EHC plans, particularly for children who are starting or moving school in September 2020. In order to achieve this, the SEN Team and Education, Health and Care professionals will need to work in a different way.

Professionals will continue to provide information and advice towards EHC needs assessments. They will do this using their knowledge of the child or young person and any information that is already available, and may contact you by telephone. They may also speak with other professionals, including nursery or school staff, about the child or young person. Reports will be sent to the SEN Team by secure email.

Please be mindful that our Education, Health and Social Care partners who are ordinarily expected to contribute to EHC needs assessments are currently under significant pressure to manage the demand on the local authority and health bodies to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak and in view of this we have been advised that the Department for Education is seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for the EHC needs assessment process where this is appropriate because of Covid-19.

Our aim is to maintain ‘business as usual’ wherever possible, however the unprecedented situation nationally around Covid-19 may have an impact on our ability to complete assessments within the required timescales. Portsmouth local authority will ensure we use all reasonable endeavours to progress any agreed assessments and seek the required information and advice with a view to minimising the impact on this process.

Co-production of EHC Plans during the Covid-19 outbreak

Co-production of EHC Plans

As it is not possible to hold face to face meetings until further notice, co-production meetings will not take place, however this will not delay the assessment.

The SEND Adviser responsible for overseeing the assessment will ensure that the views of the child or young person and their parent or carer together with the information and advice provided by professionals will be used to produce a plan for consideration by SEN Managers. If it is agreed that an EHC plan is required, a draft plan will be issued to parents, school and professionals by secure email and SSE. There will be opportunities for parents and professionals to discuss the contents of the plan, any queries they may have, and any suggested amendments with the SEND Adviser via telephone or email.

We will consider all amendments requested as we ordinarily would. Agreed amendments will be made and the final EHC plan will be issued. If any requested amendments have not been agreed an explanation of the reasons for this will be given

Maintaining Education, Health and Care Plans during the Covid-19 outbreak

Maintaining Education, Health and Care Plans

During the Covid-19 crisis, most children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home. Schools, colleges, other training providers and local authorities will consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHC plan, alongside the views of their parents, and make a risk assessment for each child or young person. Local authorities and schools or colleges should decide together who is best placed to undertake the risk assessment.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 allows the Secretary of State, where appropriate, to temporarily lift the statutory duty on local authorities to maintain the precise provision in EHC plans; with local authorities needing instead to apply ‘reasonable endeavours’ to support these children and their families.

 

Annual Review meetings during the Covid-19 outbreak

Annual Review meetings

Schools may need to postpone annual review meetings due to take place in the summer term.

We support schools holding a review by virtual meetings by telephone or video call, if possible. Examples of video applications are Skype, Zoom or Face Time etc.

Any annual review reports received by the SEN Team will be considered in the usual way and local authority recommendations will be communicated to parents and schools via secure email and SSE.

Disagreement Resolution Arrangements during the Covid-19 outbreak

Disagreement Resolution

Parents and young people can continue to access informal support in resolving disagreements through the local impartial Information, Advice and Support Service.
Email : portsmouthiass@roseroad.org.uk

In addition, disagreement resolution services will continue to be available to parents and young people such as meetings with the SEN Team, Independent Mediation and the right to appeal to the First-Tier SEN&D Tribunal Service. These services will need to operate differently and are likely to be held through alternative virtual means such as telephone or video call.

General information and updates on the SEN Assessment Team during the Covid-19 outbreak

General information and updates

We will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation as a service and local authority and we are reviewing our activity on a daily basis. For further information in relation to SEN Services and Covid-19 please visit www.portsmouthlocaloffer.org which is updated regularly with the latest news, guidance and resources.

Please be assured that we will continue to work with your child or young person’s best interests at the centre of our processes, whilst adhering to the Government and Public Health Advice, and will ensure that they are not disadvantaged by these extraordinary circumstances.

Karen Spencer
SEN Service Manager 01/04/2020

Risk Assessments for children and young people with EHC Plans - during covid-19

Updated guidance on carrying out SEND risk assessments was published by the government on 19th April.

This guidance advises that: ‘We are asking local authorities to consider the needs of all children and young people with an education, health and care (EHC) plan, and make a risk assessment, consulting educational settings and parents or carers, to determine whether children and young people with SEND will be able to have their needs met at home, and be safer there than attending an educational setting.’

‘Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be safer at home, the Department for Education (DfE) recommends they stay at home. Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be as safe or safer at an education setting, DfE recommends they attend the education setting.’

In Portsmouth, we have provided a risk assessment template for schools, colleges and education settings to use (although schools can use their own version, as long as this covers all of the same questions). These should be completed in discussion with parents and carers and shared with them.

Click here to see the Risk Assessment template

Click here to read our information sheet on risk assessments for Children and Young People with EHC Plans

 

PPV Logo

The current situation is very worrying for many families.
The thought of your family having to be separated due to illness is incredibly concerning.
Portsmouth Parent Voice have worked in co-production with local parents and professionals to produce three documents to help if you and your child need to be separated from the rest of your family or household.

To find out more and download the planning documents, please follow this link.

 

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