Latest news and updates
It's back to school!
Its nearly September - that time for children's return to school and college, or to start preschool or nursery
There has been lots of guidance issued by the government over the past few months and only the keenest of us would have read it all. We’ve pulled together some useful information about returning to schools and colleges in September for Hertfordshire families whose children have SEND.
The government guidance:
From the beginning of the autumn term, the DfE will expect all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time. A very small number of children and young people, on the advice of their paediatrician or consultant, will need to continue to shield from coronavirus at home. If this is the case for your child then please ensure that you let your child’s school or college know as they will need to work with you to support their education at home. Information on what parents and carers need to know about the opening of schools is available. There is a Department for Education Coronavirus Helpline for queries about this – details below.
Tune in to Back to School Q&A - 27 August 2020
Have you got questions about returning to school?
The charity CONTACT, is holding a special Back to School Question and Answer session on their Facebook page on 27 August, between 2-4pm.
Parents/carers are encouraged to ask Contact's advisers any questions they have about returning to school.
On the day, simply go to Contact's Facebook page and post your questions in the special Back to School Thread.
The latest guidance around the full opening of schools in September has been summarised and made easier to follow by Herts SENDIASS.
If your child is in mainstream then you will find more information here but if your child is attending a special school or specialist setting then in addition, you will also require this information.
You can also find up to date information about the return to school for SEND pupils in Hertfordshire on the Local Offer coronavirus updates page
Ask, Listen, Do
You may find the following leaflet, funded by the Department for Education and developed by families as part of NHS England's Ask Listen Do project helpful in planning your child’s return to school.
'Returning to school after a period of absence', is intended to help build partnership between families and the school. The intention is to equip families with questions to ask of schools to make the return to school from a period of absence as successful as possible. The questions can be used by families and by young people to support self-advocacy.
NHS national programme, Ask, Listen, Do (ALD) is about making feedback, concerns and complaints easier for people with a learning disability, autism or both and their families and carers. The programme supports organisations to learn from and improve the experiences of people with a learning disability, autism or both, their families and carers. Find out more about ALD here.
Home to school transport
There is new guidance from the Department of Education on Home to School Transport and returning to school.
Hertfordshire County Council's School Transport Department has written to all schools and parents whose child is or will be using the transport to explain what has been put in place. The letters have been sent directly to parents via email. If you should have received one and haven’t seen it then please check your email junk/spam folders or contact school transport directly - email@example.com
Parents are also able to choose to transport their child using a personal travel budget which covers 4 daily car journeys from home to school at 45p a mile. Further information is in the letter and on the Local Offer Local Offer Coronavirus updates under the education tab. All of our transport will be running again from September.
Relaxing of EHCP requirements is over
During the peak of Covid-19, the government relaxed the legal requirements of schools and the Local Authority to provide all the provision in children and young people’s EHC plans.
This requirement expired on the 31st July and so, when those with an EHC plan return to school or college in September, the provision set out in the plan must be delivered.
However, the relaxing of the timelines around certain parts of the EHC process remain in force until 25th September by which time the government will have decided whether to extend it further.
You can see updates here for to Changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus.
Consultation on changes to the School Admission Code
The Department for Education has just launched a consultation on a revised version of the School Admissions Code and would welcome your feedback.
The consultation can be found online here and runs until 16 October.
The proposed changes to the School Admissions Code are intended to support vulnerable children and changes would therefore potentially have significant implications for children with SEND.
In addition, SEND stakeholders may have a particular interest in a specific recommendation about how the Code should provide for decisions about the admission of children and young people with Challenging Behaviour.
DfE is keen to hear from a wide range of SEND stakeholders to help ensure that all relevant SEND considerations are factored into Ministers’ decisions as to the best way forward.
They have an extended consultation period of 16 weeks, running into the Autumn term to allow for disruption caused by both the school holidays and the phased re-opening and return to school. Virtual consultation sessions are planned with stakeholders. Do let DfE know if you would like to be involved.
There is also an updated published statement on the admission of summer born children. This is published here
We have set up the AdmissionsCode.Consultation@education.gov.uk mailbox for any future comments or questions in relation to the consultation.
Information from: Special educational needs and disability division
College help and mentoring for young people with SEND
The My Future Programme is a year long trial with North Hertfordshire College aimed at helping young people with SEND who attract High Needs Funding.
The programme is about providing impartial careers advice, bespoke coaching and employment adviser support to help the young person transition out of college into positive activities and employment as appropriate, when the time is right. The Programme will also provide support to parents to help them recognise other opportunities exist outside of education. The overall aim of the programme is to reduce High Needs Funding costs.
We are pleased to announce that we have successfully recruited all the staff for the My Future Programme and they will join YC Hertfordshire early in September.
The My Future Programme will be run on a trial basis for a year, starting in September and run in conjunction with North Hertfordshire College supporting 35 young people ready to leave college. YC Hertfordshire is piloting the programme.
If the trial proves successful, the programme will be rolled out across all of the Hertfordshire colleges.
Things to do in Hertfordshire
Summer holiday support
Looking for summer holiday activities?
Angels are also running some summer holiday events which you can find by clicking or tapping on the image below
You’ll also find lots of information about events and activities on the Local Offer website.
Holiday fun with Boundless Care
Boundless Care Summer Holiday Clubs for young people with ASD are back in Hertford and St Albans
If you have a child/young person with high functioning Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD and similar needs, the Boundless Care holiday club is for you.
Operating from 9am to 1pm at 2 venues
- Mondays 10th, 17th, 24th August & Thursday 27th August in St Albans at Fleetville Community Centre, Royal Road, St Albans AL1 4LQ
- Tuesdays 11th, 18th, 25th August and Friday 28th August at Hertford at Abel Smith Primary School, 3 Churchfields, Hertford SG13 8A
In addition, Boundless Care is also running the Extended Short Breaks Local Offer (SBLO) online Summer Offer for children and their families.
They will be posting videos on their Facebook page on different activities, exercise, art & craft and cooking/baking and more.
If you qualify for short breaks, find out more at SBLO Summer Offer
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Support for anxious young people
Self-care is about the things we can do to look after our own mental health
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families have over 90 creative self-care ideas for your young person over the summer holidays. They are all in clear categories, so you will find at least one idea to suit a young person with any interest! Visit their website - https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/
Changing life stories from National Literacy Trust
Time Together is a colourful visual online booklet of tips on engaging with your child, by the National Literacy Trust.
Break it down into sections and enjoy some 'Time Together' with your child. The last section has tips on preparing your child for school.
Time Together is one of the national Literacy Trust's range of Changing Life Stories
Support and Advice
Attendance and penalty fines in the Autumn term
The government’s initial return to school statement about attendance fines, for parents whose children did not return to school, caused concern amongst many parents of children with SEND both locally and nationally.
If your child’s lack of attendance at school as a result of the Covid situation, is causing concern and the school is talking about issuing a penalty notice, please be aware that in a letter to schools, Hertfordshire County Council’s (HCC) direction to schools, stated:
“We (HCC) do not envisage that use of penalty notices to enforce attendance where absence is related to Covid-19 will be appropriate in the majority of cases in the autumn term; and ask you identify pupils who are reluctant or anxious about returning, and to develop plans for those pupils who have been persistently absent before or not engaged in education during the pandemic. These plans should/could include the use of existing pastoral support, catch up and pupil premium funding and other services to support attendance. Schools should also contact their Local Authority Attendance Officer early on where you have concerns for advice, guidance and support on this matter.
HCC said that ”schools should discuss any issues with their senior leadership team and the Local Authority Attendance team, and should any penalty notice application be received from school without a conversation with the Local Authority Attendance Team will not process it.”
For more support and information you can approach the SENDIASS service which has a section on it’s website about Attendance and Exclusions along with contact details.
Their phone line 01992 555847 operates term time Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm and in the school holidays on reduced hours.
Covid summer food fund for Free School Meals
Schools will have now received all the guidance to administer free school meal vouchers for families.
All schools must sign up for it and should be in touch with parents about getting the vouchers.
You can check online to find out more about how the scheme is organised and if your child/ren are eligible for Free School Meals.
There is more government guidance here.
Support for A' Level and GCSE students
For young people receiving their results this year it is likely to be more challenging than usual.
Whether young people’s results are better or worse than expected it’s not too late to rethink plans and to make the most of the opportunities available. Support is available from YC Hertfordshire’s team of Personal Advisers who are available to offer information, advice and guidance on going to college or sixth form, finding a job or apprenticeship or undertaking training.
Young people can text ‘RESULTS’ to 07860 065173 with their name, date of birth and details of the school or college they attend. One of the Personal Advisers will then be in touch as soon as possible. Alternatively, young people can call 01992 588220.
You can also email YCH.LDD@hertfordshire.gov.uk
Our Ed Psych line is still open
School’s out, but we’re still here for you.
The educational psychology advice line is open over the summer holidays.
If you'd like any advice or support at all, contact us on 01992 588 574 (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 2pm - 4.30pm and Weds 10am - 4.30pm).