COVID-secure Practice Update 10/01/21

Following the latest lockdown and partial closure of schools, SEND Supported is following latest government advice given in:   

Restricting attendance during the national lockdown: schools guidance for all schools in England January 2021.  (Published 07/01/21)

Key messages from the government regarding visits to schools to by external specialists, to support pupils with SEND include:

  • Supply teachers, peripatetic teachers and other temporary staff can move between schools. They should ensure they minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff. They should also participate in schools’ rapid testing programmes where these have been established. Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual. (p17)
  • Regardless of setting, schools are encouraged to work collaboratively with other schools and education providers and other local partners (including the local authority, social workers, police, youth services, key workers etc.) to maximise opportunities for face-to-face provision for vulnerable children. (p26)
  • Deploying support staff and accommodating visiting specialists Schools should ensure that appropriate support is made available for pupils with SEND, for example by deploying teaching assistants and enabling specialist staff from both within and outside the school to work with pupils in different classes or year groups. (p34)
  • Supply staff and other temporary workers can move between schools, where it is necessary to use supply staff and to welcome visitors to the school such as peripatetic teachers, those individuals will be expected to comply with the school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk and schools should ensure that all temporary staff have access to the information on the safety arrangements in place, and ensure that this is provided as soon as possible after the booking is confirmed. (p36)
  • Similarly, where schools pay top-up or other funding for pupils attending alternative provision (AP), or pay for other SEND or AP services, we expect these payments to continue so that teachers and other staff can be paid in accordance with their existing employment contracts.  If placements and services for this term have not yet been agreed, schools should fund on the basis of previous patterns of placements and commissioning. (p39)
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We will continue to provide a service for you and your staff to promote outcomes for learners with SEND. Please ensure parent consent is in place in the usual way before we work with pupils. (Download a copy of the SEND Supported Privacy Notice and Consent Letter here.) In  order to make best use of your allotted visit times this term, we are providing an additional, on-line service offering: 

  •  review of reports and pupil case discussion using Microsoft Teams; 
  •  virtual planning meetings with SENCo using Microsoft Teams; 
  •  telephone consultations; 
  • virtual meetings; 
  • online training/workshops;
  • report writing and written recommendations based on information supplied by school; 
    • liaison with professionals;
    • liaison with parents, at the school’s request;

This way of working was successful throughout the first lockdown and once again, we will readily return to working as flexibly and creatively as possible to support staff, young people and their families. We will work from home wherever possible, while coming into school for essential work which cannot be done from home. 

Being aware of the risks posed from our movement between bubbles and between schools, we are very conscious of our responsibility to maintain COVID-secure practices to minimise any risk of transmission of the virus, as outlined in last term’s practice guidance updates which can be found here. Last term, we found the following practices very helpful in our endeavours: 

  • Updated information about school COVID-secure plans, in advance of our visit. 
  • Preparation for the visit to minimise the materials we bring into school with us.
  • Signage on arrival, with instructions for visitors. 

The single most helpful practice we would ask you to remind your staff about is adherence to the 2m distancing rule with all adults.

  Many thanks