COVID-19: SEND Risk Assessment Guidance

News - 19 April 2020

The DfE has issued guidance advising local authorities to conduct risk assessments and makes suggestions and recommendations for how that might be done in collaboration with educational settings and parents. It has been put together with help from special educational needs and disability (SEND) sector organisations and outlines pragmatic approaches that local authorities, educational settings, and parents or carers may wish to take.

This guidance document relates particularly to children and young people whose need for hands-on care or whose behaviours mean that there are more risks to be managed than for the majority of children and young people with EHC plans. Most of these children and young people attend special schools, specialist colleges and other specialist settings, but this guidance also applies to any mainstream educational setting caring for such children and young people.

Risk assessments should consider which children and young people with EHC plans may benefit more from remaining at school or college than at home.

This is most likely to be the case where:

  • a child or young person is receiving personal care or healthcare at their school or college which cannot be replicated at home (for example, many pupils and students in residential settings); or
  • it is not sustainable for parents or carers to meet their child’s needs full-time for an extended period (for example, those attending day settings whose parents meet their personal care, mobility or other needs in evenings and weekends, but where this would not be sustainable full-time); or
  • the child or young person would face other risks out of school or college (for example, if it is more feasible for them to follow social distancing and good hygiene practices within the routine and familiarity of their school or college day, or where their behaviour would put them at other risks out of school or college); or
  • children and young people whose condition prevents or inhibits self-regulation and whose behaviours cannot be supported or managed by parents or carers at home; or where this would place a risk to other siblings or family members

In these or similar circumstances, the risk assessment might determine that the benefits to the child or young person from continuing to attend their educational setting are greater than being at home.

The guidance states that the DfE recognises that some local authorities and educational settings will have already undertaken risk assessments for many vulnerable children and young people and taken decisions on appropriate provision. There is no need to re-do these because this guidance has been issued. Some local authorities and educational settings will have done provisional risk assessments and will want to revisit those to check whether the decisions made initially will remain suitable over time. 

To read the full guidance, including the risks to be included