Changes to legislation
On Monday 6 July, the Department for Education updated its guidance on temporary changes to special educational needs and disability legislation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
It has been updated to reflect announcement on 2 July that, unless the evidence changes, they will not be issuing further national notices to modify section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
This means that the reasonable endeavours duty to provide special educational and health provision will come to an end in August and the duty will return to an absolute duty as was the case previously.
SEND Service Update
The amendments to the timescales that relate to Education, Health and Care Plans, Education, Health and Care needs assessments and annual reviews under the SEND (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 come to an end on 25 September 2020. This means that duty that the duty to meet the usual timescales will resume post 25 September 2020.
The SEND service shall continue to operate, and it is envisaged that the use of meetings held via virtual platforms (Skype, Zoom, Teams etc.) will increase.
We have broken down the most relevant amendments to provide specific guidance below:
New Education, Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs)
The SEND service shall abide by the below time scales for new EHCPs:
- 6 week - time frame to make a decision to conduct an Education, Health and Care Assessment
- 16 week - time frame to make a decision in regard to if we issue a draft plan and to issue a draft plan if applicable
- 20 week - time frame to issue a final Education, Health and Care Plan
Where we have applied an exception to the above timeframes with existing cases, we shall attempt to resume the assessments in collaboration with all stakeholders as soon as reasonably practicable.
Consultations with schools and settings
Due to the legislative changes this duty shall revert to the previous duty and settings will be expected to respond to consultations within 15 days.
EHCP Annual Reviews
From 25 September 2020 previous timescales involved with EHCP annual reviews shall return to as they were previously. Where previous reviews have not been held due to Covid-19 these must be held as soon as reasonably practicable.
Settings may wish to continue to hold annual review meetings via alternative delivery models such as video/telephone conference calls (Skype, Zoom etc).
Mediations have been held via Zoom since March 2020 and it is envisaged that this will continue for the interim period.
SEND Travel assistance
Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire Children First are continuing to provide SEND Travel Assistance and is reviewing arrangements on a regular basis and new requests continue to be actioned in line with the current Travel Assistance Policy.
Arrangements for parents, carers and families to contact the SEND Service
The SEND Service remains operational and staff are contactable via email, portal or by telephone. However, please note due to the current restrictions resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) the County Hall Post Room will only be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.