Children in special schools 'forgotten' by Government


Nursery World explores how around 20,000 children with special educational needs are unlikely to return to special schools in September, according to new research.

The survey of special schools and colleges and parents found that many headteachers and parents feel that children in special schools and colleges have been ‘forgotten’ in the Government’s announcements for children to return to mainstream schools this week.

The study, by ASK Research with support from NFER, and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, involved in-depth interviews with and surveys of 200 special schools and colleges in England that provide specialist places for children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and more than 500 parents whose children attend special schools. 

Special schools face different challenges to mainstream schools but school leaders and parents feel the Government has shown little understanding of this in their Covid-19 guidance. 

Heads surveyed said that guidance from the Government had been unclear and showed a lack of understanding of how special schools work, the types of pupils they support and how much they rely on other services, including health and social care, transport and local charities.

Social distancing rules mean fewer pupils can be accommodated in special schools and schools feel they can no longer offer many of the activities they usually provide, such as using sensory rooms and hydrotherapy pools. 

Parents of children with special educational needs were concerned about sending their children back to school or college in September because their children are medically vulnerable or because their child’s needs mean they cannot adhere to social distancing and safe practice.

The survey found:
  • 84 per cent of special school and college leaders think some of their pupils will not return to school this term.
  • 64 per cent thought this was because parents do not think it would be safe.
  • 98 per cent of special school and college leaders said they have pupils who they thought would find adhering to safe practice and social distancing from adults, difficult.
Read the full article from Nursery World here.

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Author: Catherine Gaunt for Nursery World