Yesterday's announcement of the schools shutting has understandably left parents, schools, teachers and everybody concerned about those children in the 'vulnerable' or 'key worker' category.
Our view of the announcement is that if your child HAS an EHCP you can continue to send them into school - you do not have to. Parents will not be penalised for not sending their children in, but if you need to send your child in for respite or any other reason, you CAN do so.
Following the government advice, our Senior Solicitor has been posting a series of short videos to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Who can* still send their children to School?
What might happen to those waiting for an SEND Tribunal Hearing?
Predicted relaxation of Section 42 - The Children and Families Act 2014
Government guidance confirming that those children with EHCP's will be provided for at Schools.
"After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.
Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require.
Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area.Where possible, we would encourage settings to also look after key workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays."
We have now received confirmation that all Hearings in the SEND Tribunal listed for the week commencing 23 March 2020 will be moved to telephone or video hearings depending on the numbers attending. Face to face hearings will not be held, initially for the period of three weeks, and all panels and parties will be able to deal with cases on the papers, by telephone or by video.
Update from the First Tier Tribunal Reads:
Decisions about the education of children and young people are vitally important and the Tribunal is making every effort to conclude as many appeals and claims as possible.
The Tribunal are already aware of parents, young people, local authority representatives and witnesses who are self-isolating and social distancing, putting pressure on all services at this unprecedented time.
Following today’s announcement from the Senior President of Tribunals, all hearings in the First-tier Tribunal Special Educational Needs and Disability will move away from face to face hearings and make use of the technology available.
From Monday 23 March 2020, the Tribunal will use technology to enable hearings to proceed for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hearings will be on paper or by telephone and where possible video, where the technology permits. The arrangements for your hearing will be confirmed at least 2 days before the date on which your hearing is listed, and it would assist if you could check whether you are able to access telephone and internet services either in your home or locally. You will not be required to travel to the hearing venue if you have either telephone or internet video facilities.
If parties do not have a reliable telephone or internet service available in their homes, it may be possible to arrange to use the IT equipment or telephones at your nearest Courts and Tribunals hearing venue.
There is no need to contact the Tribunal to obtain the details as the administrative team are working to issue those details to you in time for your hearing.
Please do not contact the Tribunal helpline because at present, the Tribunal’s own resources are reduced due to self-isolation and social distancing and it is at the point two days before your hearing, if you haven’t received correspondence from the Tribunal that you should contact the office.
Thank you for your patience. If we can be of any further assistance please email the Tribunal at email@example.com