Letter to Early Years Settings, Schools and Colleges from the Secretary of State for Education

You should, by now, have received a letter from Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, about supporting the attendance of vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus crisis.

In the extract from the letter in italics, below, the Secretary of States restates the target group of vulnerable pupils that he believes should be in educational settings:

In brief, our expectations on who should attend and how we recommend providers to follow up non-attendance are summarised below:

  • Children and young people who have a social worker should be encouraged to attend an education setting unless their social worker decides that they are at less risk at home or in their placement. This could be, for example, due to underlying health conditions. Absence should be followed up with the parent or carer, and with the social worker/local authority where appropriate.
  • Children and young people with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan – We are asking local authorities to consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHC plan, and make a risk assessment, consulting educational settings and parents or carers, to determine whether children and young people with special educational needs will be able to have their needs met at home, and be safer there than attending an educational setting. Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be safer at home, our recommendation is that they stay at home. Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be as safe or safer at an education setting, our recommendation is that they attend the education setting. Where pupils are expected to attend settings, we would expect providers to follow up with the parent or carer – and social worker/local authority, where appropriate – to explore reasons for any absence.
  • Children and young people who are otherwise vulnerable – education settings, including alternative provision, can, together with relevant partners, use their discretion to encourage the attendance of children and young people that they or other local services, such as local authorities (including children’s social care services) or the police, feel would be safer by attending an education setting. Any subsequent absence should be followed up with the parent or carer, and with other partners where appropriate.

Working alongside our colleagues in Children’s Social Care, we will provide you with as much support as you need to try to ensure that we continue to increase the number of vulnerable children in our settings, following the increases that we have seen this week.

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