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All Saints Church of England Junior School

Loving All Our Neighbours

Vulnerable Children & Children with EHC Plans (only relevant to those still sending children into school)

Dear Parents & Carers,

The DfE has published further guidance around vulnerable children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans - this is only relevant to those families still sending their children into school following our partial closure:

What is the definition of Vulnerable Children?

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those children with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Those who have a social worker include children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority. A child may also be deemed to be vulnerable if they have been assessed as being in need or otherwise meet the definition in section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

Those with an EHC plan should be risk-assessed by their school or college in consultation with the local authority (LA) and parents, to decide whether they need to continue to be offered a school place in order to meet their needs, or whether they can safely have their needs met at home. This could include, if necessary, carers therapists or clinicians visiting the home to provide any essential services. Many children with EHC plans can safely remain at home.

The DfE knows that schools and other education providers may also want to support other children who are vulnerable where they are able to do so. Eligibility for free school meals in and of itself should not be the determining factor in assessing vulnerability.

The DfE is working with schools and local authorities to help identify the children who most need support at this time. Looking after these children will enable schools to support the country during challenging times.

The DfE has also published specific guidance around children with education health and care (EHC) plans:

Do all children and young people with an EHC plan need to continue at school?

Schools and local authorities will need to consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHC plan, alongside the views of their parents, and make a risk assessment for each child or young person. They will need to consider a number of different risks to each individual, including:

  • the potential health risks to the individual from COVID-19, bearing in mind any underlying health conditions. This must be on an individual basis with advice from an appropriate health professional where required
  • the risk to the individual if some or all elements of their EHC plan cannot be delivered at all, and the risk if they cannot be delivered in the normal manner or in the usual setting
  • the ability of the individual’s parents or home to ensure their health and care needs can be met safely
  • the potential impact to the individual’s wellbeing of changes to routine or the way in which provision is delivered

The Government expects most children will fall into the following categories:

  1. children and young people who would be at significant risk if their education, health and care provision and placement did not continue, namely those who could not safely be supported at home. This may include those with profound and multiple learning difficulties, and those receiving significant levels of personal care support. Local authorities will need to work with the individual’s educational setting – especially residential special schools and colleges – as well as local health partners, to ensure they are able to remain open wherever possible. This may mean deploying staff from other schools, to keep staffing ratios safe

  2. children and young people whose needs can be met at home, namely those who are not receiving personal care from their educational setting, or whose limited need for personal care can be met in their family home. As part of the government’s emergency powers, the DfE will modify the statutory duties on local authorities to maintain the precise provision in EHC plans and will expect educational settings and local authorities to use their reasonable endeavours to support these children and their families

Where a local authority is unable to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty in the 2014 Act.

While the school feels that all the children we have with EHC plans fall into category 2, we will contact families individually to clarify their circumstances and agree the best way forward in each case.

The full DfE guidance can be seen here:

Thank you and with all good wishes,

Richard D Rhodes, Headteacher

LOVING ALL OUR NEIGHBOURS - John 15: 12 'This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.'