School closures, staff sickness and coronavirus demand on resources has left many councils struggling to provide support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, the Local Government Association says today.
Councils are working hard to keep supporting children and young people with SEND during the coronavirus crisis. The LGA said difficulty in delivering support set out in Education, Health and Care Plans (ECHP) has led to many councils finding themselves challenged by parents.
The Coronavirus Act allows for the temporary removal or relaxation of statutory provisions, including those relating to EHCPs.
The LGA said councils and their partners need greater flexibility to meet the needs of children with EHCPs and is urging the Department for Education to urgently set out its definition of “reasonable endeavours” that takes account of the pressures that councils are under in delivering support.
A collaborative effort between councils, government and parents will ensure there is a common-sense approach to meeting the needs of special needs children during the coronavirus crisis. This may mean a child or young person’s provision may differ temporarily from what is set out in their EHCP.
Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“In these difficult times, councils and their partners are trying to do all they can to support children with special educational needs and their families.
“With stretched resources and competing demands during the coronavirus crisis, this has become increasingly challenging and has made current statutory timeframes unrealistic to meet.
“It is vital that the Government urgently sets out the flexibility it intends to give councils so they can try and ensure all those on EHCPs continue to receive the best possible support.”