To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report by the Disabled Children’s Partnership entitled Loneliest lockdown, if he will ensure that the Government’s education recovery, led by Sir Kevan Collins, will include a dedicated recovery policy for disabled children and their families that addresses the physical and mental health impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on those groups.
28 April 2021
The Department is committed to helping all pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognise that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education, health and wellbeing. We are committed to supporting them and their families.
We have and continue to develop plans for COVID-19 recovery. Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support at pupils in greatest need. In the development of this recovery plan, Sir Kevan is regularly meeting with a variety of stakeholders including disabled young people and their families. Sir Kevan is reviewing how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had not just on academic outcomes, but on the physical and mental health of children and young people.
As part of this plan, both special schools and alternative provision will be able to access funding to provide summer schools and the National Tutoring Programme. We recognise the additional costs associated with offering provision to pupils in specialist settings, and eligible pupils in special schools, special units in mainstream primary and secondary schools and alternative provision settings will attract a higher rate of funding for summer schools. We have also consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings by providing additional uplifts both in the 2020 Catch-up Premium and in the 2021 Recovery Premium.
Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an education, health and care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund, where they meet the fund criteria. Colleges are asked to have regard for the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most for small group tuition. Furthermore, the proposals to support early language and literacy catch up will benefit all children including those with SEND.
In addition, £200 million will be available to all secondary schools, including specialist settings, to deliver face to face summer schools. Schools will be able to target provision based on pupils’ needs. We also announced, on 10 February 2021, over £42 million SEND funding for the 2021-22 financial year to continue funding projects to support children with SEND. This investment will ensure that specialist organisations around the country can continue their work to help strengthen local area performance, support families, and provide practical support to schools and colleges. It will strengthen participation of parents and young people in the SEND system – ensuring they have a voice in designing policies and services and have access to high quality information, advice, and support.
The Department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent COVID-19 recovery plans on all pupils, including those with SEND, to ensure it targets support across the system most effectively.