‘Special education during lockdown: Returning to schools and colleges in September’

News - 7 September 2020

ASK research, the Nuffield Foundation and NFER have published a report focusing on the re-opening of special schools and colleges in September.

The report is based on interviews with parents of pupils attending special schools and colleges and with senior leaders in these settings, prior to the return, looking at how schools and parents were preparing. Findings include:

  • Leaders estimated that an average of 14% of their pupils may not return, due to concerns over safety, medical vulnerability and the needs and behaviours of pupils i.e. the difficulty some will have with maintaining social distancing and other measures
  • Leaders anticipated having to make a variety of changes to how their schools and colleges will operate, such as having altered contact hours, fewer activities such as sensory rooms and pools, different routines and lower levels or different methods of therapeutic input
  • These changes are necessary due to a perceived lack of clarity in the DfE guidance, insufficient staff capacity, limited space, limited funding and how other agencies adapt
  • A likely increase in social and emotional needs, at the same time as special schools and colleges are taking in new pupils who may not have been through the usual assessment and transition processes

There is a need to central government and local authorities to work beyond education, with all relevant partners, to provide:

  • Guidance on safe in-school delivery for pupils with EHCPs
  • Guidance on special education delivery expectations, including how pupils who do not return are supported
  • Clear and consistent communication for staff and families about the risks to staff and pupils and how these are being addressed
  • A reassessment of resourcing to reflect the additional requirements of special schools and colleges

Read the full report