We round up the latest news affecting schools and colleges.
Depressing findings about the impact of COVID-19 on the educational prospects of children and young people with SEND
The all-party parliamentary group for special educational needs and disabilities has published its report on the experiences of young people with SEND and their educational transitions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Its title,
‘Forgotten, Left Behind and Overlooked,’ tells you all you need to know.
The inquiry considered information from a range of different people and organisations that work with pupils with SEND. The responses paint a picture of a system which was already buckling under pressure, only to be pushed closer to breaking point by the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also sets out a series of recommendations including:
The Department of Education should, as a priority, publish guidance relating to schools and education settings which fully takes into account the range of needs of children and young people with SEND, as well as those of their families, schools and carers
The government should undertake an urgent parliamentary review to assess the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people with SEND, making sure that those who are most vulnerable are supported as we emerge from a global pandemic
New and additional funding should be made available to support children and young people with SEND as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis
Funding should specifically be made available to target the delays and backlog in processing assessments for Education and Health Care (EHC) Plans
The EHC Plan application process should be made easier and more empathetic
Urgent funding should be made available for the support of peoples’ mental health with SEND
High-needs funding requires urgent review
The Secretary of State should review SEND, and put children and young people with SEND at the forefront of government policy and decision making
Ensure that children and young people with SEND are accounted for in future pandemic planning.
COVID-19: summer school programme now open
Schools in England can now
register to offer a summer school to help secondary-aged children catch up on some of the learning they have lost during the pandemic.
The programme is open to state-funded secondary and special schools, non-maintained special schools, and pupil referral units.
It will also be made available as alternative provision for any pupil whose education was funded by the local authority outside of state-funded schools, including:
Non-maintained special schools
The deadline to complete the
summer schools sign-up form is 11:59 pm on Friday 7 May 2021. COVID-19 – government ‘hopes’ masks may not be needed in classrooms by mid-May
Schools Minister Nick Gibb has said he hoped
secondary school pupils in England wouldn’t have to wear masks for much longer. Any changes to the current advice to schools and colleges won’t take place earlier than Monday 17 May, and will depend on the latest COVID-19 data. School attendance back to pre-pandemic levels
Attendance in state primary schools has returned to pre-pandemic levels and is now the highest it’s been during the pandemic. That's according to the Department for Education’s (DfE's)
latest attendance survey data
Primary attendance was 96% on Thursday 22 April, which is generally in line with attendance in a typical academic year, and is up from 92% on Thursday 25 March.
Secondary attendance rose over the same period from 87% to 91.
Overall, attendance in all state schools increased from 90% to 94%, which is highest it’s been at any point during the coronavirus pandemic, the DfE has said.
Right to work checks for EU workers
The Home Office has confirmed that employers only need European Economic Area (EEA) citizens to show them their passport or national ID card to obtain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty for illegal working until Wednesday 30 June 2021.
However, any EEA citizen employed from Thursday 1 July 2021 will need to demonstrate they've meet one of the following two criteria:
Have applied for (or received) settled or pre-settled status
Have a visa to work in the UK under the new immigration rules.
There are some circumstances where EU citizens wishing to apply for settled or pre-settled status can apply after Wednesday 30 June 2021. These exceptions are extremely limited, and advice should be obtained.
read their updated guidance.
Cabinet Office opens review into coronavirus certification
As part of its strategy to help the country to re-open safely, the Cabinet Office has announced that it's considering introducing
coronavirus status certificates . If they go ahead, they'll use testing or vaccination data to confirm that people have a lower risk of transmitting the virus to others.
The government expects to complete its review before Step Four of its lockdown easing plan, currently projected to be Monday 21 June 2021.
Updated guidance on pregnancy COVID-19 and vaccinations
The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists has updated its
guidance on coronavirus and pregnancy. It indicates that pregnant women who catch COVID-19 are still considered to be at increased risk of becoming severely unwell compared to non-pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester.
It also states that employers must still carry out a risk assessment for pregnant employees even if they have been vaccinated.
Paying enhanced adoption pay alongside lower shared parental pay is not direct discrimination
Price v Powys County Council the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that an employer paying adoption pay at an enhanced rate but shared parental pay to all employees (male or female) at a lower rate (eg. at the statutory rate) doesn't amount to direct sex discrimination.
This judgment will reassure those schools and colleges who have been operating enhanced pay for those on adoption, but only providing a lower rate (eg. the statutory rate) to any employee (male or female) taking shared parental leave.
DfE launches consultation on new flexible apprenticeships
The DfE has launched a
consultation on establishing a new type of flexible apprenticeship in sectors including the construction, creative and agricultural industries. The DfE is seeking views on how these new apprenticeships should run, and how they can best support expanding the volume of apprenticeships in sectors that don't traditionally offer them as much.
The deadline for submitting views to the consultation is 11:59 pm on Monday 31 May 2021.
Read more – May 2021
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