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Are special schools to stay open?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by R13, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    I wasn't surprised to hear that schools would be required to look after the children of keyworkers BUT the idea that the 'most vulnerable children' should also attend was not expected.
    Gavin Williamson mentioned children with Social Workers or EHCPs as being most vulnerable - does that mean the 1,000 special school will all stay open as usual?
    I am also aware that the Unions discussions with the Dfe have raised SEND pupils as ones they were struggling to meet the needs of - again does this new directive mean that these are the children those mainstream schools will be keeping?
  2. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    Seems a bit confusing - we send them home for 6 weeks of the summer, why are they now any more 'vulnerable'? Surely sending them home is the right things to do if its right for everyone else but key workers kids? Safe staffing ratios will also have a big impact at my school as we have kids with medical conditions.
  3. andersoncouncil

    andersoncouncil New commenter

    KS4 Semh here, 80% year 11, extreme challenging behaviour.
    If their mainstream friends aren't in refusal will go through the roof.
    If I can get them in without the limited pressure of GCSEs they will feel they have no incentive to work at all.
    Challenging behaviour and absconding is going to go through the roof.
    We are dependent on leisure centres etc. to offer PE etc.
    We are already short staffed and are set up to have some kids on off site placements and I don't feel we can run these under the circumstances.

    I have no idea how to manage this!
  4. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    I think special schools will remain open, and that is how colleagues of mine interpret it as well. Their pupils are the most vulnerable, also often have the parents least able to care appropriately, are most at risk of coming to harm or exploitation.
  5. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    An email to HTs from the NAHT this evening states that the DfE want to keep special schools open and that includes for the 2 week Easter 'Holiday'. The NAHT don' appear to see that as problematic...… apart from the fact they are supposed to be a Union one also thinks the NAHT should have realised that some special schools are the few places that have kids who might genuinely really suffer and potentially die from this awful virus.
  6. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    Special schools will not have the safe staff levels to remain fully open. They’re having difficulty already.

    These children require escorted transport to travel to school. Most escorts are part time, some have caring responsibilities and children, some are retired several are over 70. Many have been advised to self-isolate already. There is already a crisis in providing school transport without the mainstream school closures.

    Children with EHCPs will stay in school: Children who have additional needs, who may have complex health conditions and require a high staff-pupil support ratio, can’t easily fight off infections, who are likely to suffer far more than the average healthy child is believed to do with COVID-19.

    There’s no guarantee that they will be in their usual school or with familiar staff. There is no guarantee that their EHCP requirements will be met. They need care and medical intervention to stay healthy under normal circumstances. Now they need that care, and close supervision even more than they need education. Special school teachers are not medically trained.

    Children of key workers without EHCPs will be in schools but there seems to be acceptance that this will be mainly for care rather than normal teaching, with usual ratios suspended. This is likely to be the case for this in Special schools as well, mainly due to staffing difficulties.

    Children who have compromised immune systems and shouldn’t be anywhere near people who are potentially infected though asymptomatic. Nurses, police, doctors etc, are on the front-line of potential infection. They take great risks and also great care. However; the risk is there. It is far from clear that children, especially the children of these caring front line workers, who are asymptomatic are not spreaders. Healthy children do not seem to be as badly affected if they do catch the virus. But what about the children with other difficulties....the disabled children they’re sharing their school with?

    It doesn’t make sense.
  7. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    There is general agreement that there will be difficulties. All we can do is to work to overcome these difficulties. This is an emergency and there is, or should be, an expectation that we will all step up to deal with it. Because the details couldn't be foreseen, new difficulties will surface as a result of measures put in place. That's inevitable and we need to find solutions, rather than saying it's all too difficult.
  8. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    I didn't say it was too difficult. I said it doesn't make sense. I also implied that the situation that has been created is not safe.

    Special school staff face huge difficulties every day, cheerfully and professionally. They are the most resourceful and flexible people I know. They can, and will make this madness work. They will battle on and give their all to try to keep their students safe and healthy against the extra dangers that the powers that be create.

    But at what cost?
    corgie11 likes this.
  9. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    Skeoch - why should special school staff step up and others not so much so?

    I have a mainstream colleague who today was told she will have to attend for 10% of the time to look after the 10% of kids in her school who need it . . . . .BUT special school staff will need to work 100% of the time whilst trying to cover for the significant number of colleagues who are off ill. AND now to work over Easter too

    AS Dzil says - I cannot see any sense in this plan
    dzil likes this.
  10. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    My local primary school are working a rota of 1 day on 14 days off. Seems an enormous waste of a skilled public workforce. I heard that some staff are taking advantage of cheap domestic holidays in between their 'work' days. I guess if they're not being directed/conscripted into other essential roles they might as well but doesn't sit comfortably with me. I have every admiration for the staff at special schools who will now be working at the coal face without a break possibly until the end of July.
  11. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    I fully expect staff to be shared between schools in the coming months if staffing numbers become an issue. I also wouldn't be surprised if teachers are deployed to other local government roles if needed. Ultimately we are a large, well trained and, due to skillsets, quite re-deployable to a lot of necessary roles.
  12. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    I couldn't agree more! I'd like to think that every teacher up and down the country that is no longer working in a school would be ready to step up and put their shoulder to the plough.
  13. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    Great to hear - do please ring your local special schools on Monday - they will be short staffed
    dzil likes this.
  14. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    Indeed they will R.
    Our local special school is open as usual, although a third of the staff were absent last week through illness or isolation.
    Staff have been told to prepare to work through the Easter break too.
  15. badviolinist

    badviolinist New commenter

    My son's special school has closed. I think it's the best decision. Why should teachers and support staff be forced to work and put themselves at risk. In a Special School you need to get very close to the kids, hug them, care for them closely. Surely this should not be happening at the moment. The pupils are also more vulnerable like my son. I understand the need to support Key Worker children but the EHCP aspect was not thought through properly.
  16. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    To my knowledge now most special schools are offering daily support for key workers plus some additional support for exceptional pupils - and most parents have moved from a panic thought of 'Surely my child will be able to stay' to a more reasoned and appreciative one.

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