Lockdown: Fears over special-school staff Covid safety

Education minister asked how staff will be kept safe where special schools must remain fully open
8th January 2021, 5:49pm
Amy Gibbons

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Lockdown: Fears over special-school staff Covid safety

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/lockdown-fears-over-special-school-staff-covid-safety
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The government is being urged to outline its plan for keeping special-school staff safe where sites remain fully open during the third national lockdown.

In a letter to children and families minister Vicky Ford, Labour MP and shadow early years minister Tulip Siddiq has warned that it will be "very challenging" for special schools to keep their doors open to all pupils, which they are being asked to do "in effect" by the government.

Current guidance for schools states that special schools should "continue to offer face-to-face provision for all pupils, where appropriate".


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"Special schools should continue to welcome and encourage pupils to attend full time where the parent/carer wishes for their child to be able to attend," the guidance states.

In her letter to Ms Ford, Ms Siddiq called for clarity on the steps the government is taking to protect pupils and staff at special schools during the lockdown.

"Special schools are, in effect, being asked to remain fully open during the lockdown, which will be very challenging given the pressures they are facing," she wrote.

"There have been reports that some children with SEND (special educational needs and disability) have been told that they cannot be accommodated in special schools this week due to staffing pressures, despite government guidance stating that children with education, health and care (EHC) plans can attend school during lockdown. 

"What steps are you taking to ensure that all children with SEND who are best supported in school can attend special schools and other educational settings, including those without EHC plans? What additional support and guidance will be made available for special schools in light of the pressures of lockdown?

"Will you confirm if special schools are being expected to roll out mass testing from the start of this term, as planned, and how they will be supported to do this? And what is your plan to keep specialist school staff working in fully open settings safe?"

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We know the impact of being out of education can be greatest on vulnerable children and those with education, health and care plans. That's why we have said that special schools should continue to welcome and encourage pupils to go into school full-time where the parent or carer wants their children to attend.

"In the meantime, for pupils who cannot attend school, schools should ensure pupils with SEND can successfully access remote education with their peers."

Letter from Tulip Siddiq, shadow early years minister, to Vicky Ford, children and families minister:

Letter to Vicky Ford

Letter to Vicky Ford

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