The last year has been hugely challenging for everyone and especially so for parents and carers of children with additional needs.
Below we have pulled together some key sources of information relating to the impact of Covid 19 and suggested some additional points that you may want to think about.
At the moment most mainstream schools are closed to children except the children of critical workers, and children classed as 'vulnerable', who should be offered a place at school if they want one - see the government guidance here and additional information from Contact here. The definition of vulnerable includes children with EHCPs and also those on SEN support. Special schools have been asked to remain open during this period (although we are aware that staffing issues are currently preventing this from happening in some cases). Attendance at school is not compulsory for any children and there will be no penalties if you chose to keep your child at home- it is up to parents to discuss with the school and what will be in the child's best interests. Please talk to your child's school about your child's return to school and/or your decision to keep them at home. Schools should supply remote learning for any children who are at home. The Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford has issued an open letter (dated 14th Jan 2021) setting out the position which you can read here and there is detailed guidance for special schools and colleges and alternative provisions here.
There is a requirement for most people to wear face-coverings in shops as well as on public transport - see government guidance here. However, there are exemptions to these rules including for children under 11, and those children and adults who are unable to wear a face-covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability, or if doing so will cause you severe distress, or if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip-reading - see the government guidance here. We are aware that some supermarkets and other shops are trying to take a harder line on this, so you may find it useful to carry a card explaining why you or your child cannot wear a mask (although there is no requirement for you to do so and it is a matter of personal choice). There are some versions here that you can download for use, as well as an easy-read explanation of the guidance that might be useful e.g. when explaining the situation to a child or a young person with learning difficulties, or you can use the versions provided on the government website here.
The Local Authority has added a 'guidance for parents and carers' section to its 'Enfield's response to Coronavirus' information, including guidance on how to support your child and talk to them about what is happening.
Whilst Coronavirus is infectious to children it is rarely serious. If your child becomes ill during this period it is likely that it will be a non-coronavirus illness. Whilst it is important to follow the government stay-at-home advice, it can be confusing to know what to do if your child is ill or injured. See here for a useful summary.
Contact, the Charity for families of disabled children have put together some useful advice for parents and carers which you can access via their website here. The Council for Disabled Children also has a useful page summarising the key sources of information here.
If you think you need support e.g. with picking up shopping, prescriptions or medicine whilst you are self-isolating, or you are in financial hardship please complete the Community Support request form here (local link) and you can also register here if you or your child/family member/person you care for at home has a condition that makes you/them especially vulnerable. If you are not sure whether your/their medical condition makes you/them especially vulnerable, please register anyway.
Please continue to share your concerns and experiences with us so that we can feed them back to the government and Local Authority as appropriate.
NHS Guidance on Coronavirus can be found here.
The Healthwatch website has useful advice on the current position in the local area (and more broadly) including visiting restrictions in local hospitals and guidance on how to self-isolate.
Talking to your child about Coronavirus - see our separate news page here for useful links and resources.
Other Guidance available:
National Autistic society guidance and helpline for parents, young people and staff
See also this guidance in British Sign Language.
Amaze have produced a set of useful FAQs relating to children with SEND - although this aimed at the families of children in Brighton and Hove, much of it is applicable to children in the Borough of Enfield.
Going to Hospital
In general, visiting someone in hospital is currently suspended. There are a small number of exceptions, when one visitor per patient may be allowed, which include a parent or appropriate adult visiting their child, or supporting someone with a mental health condition such as a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed. You should contact the ward in advance to discuss arrangements. See here for more information and check the website of the hospital you are planning to visit - e.g. Barnet hospital and Chase Farm Hospital here and North Middx here.
Going to the Doctors
Many GP surgeries are restricting or ceasing face-to-face appointments so it is recommended that you ring your surgery to discuss any issues.
Enfield Carers' Centre
Enfield Carers' Centre is currently closed for face-to-face visits, but you can still receive advice by phone and support groups will continue to run using teleconferencing facilities. More information can be found here.
Staying at home (self-isolation)
Government advice on what to do if you need to stay at home - overview here.
More detailed guidance here.
Preparing to stay at home
You may find it useful to make some additional preparations in case you find you need to self-isolate at home and/or you or your child become ill.
- If your child has ongoing medication consider asking your GP/pharmacy for an additional supply of any repeat prescription to cover for a month or two.
- If your child uses nappies or incontinence pads, you should look at whether you can obtain a supply to last for a longer period.
- If you don't have a medical plan at home, ensure that your child's latest prescription is ready.
- Look at options for getting prescriptions delivered to your home.
- Look at what options you might have for childcare if you or your regular carers get sick or need to self-isolate (e.g. if you normally rely on your child's grandparents for care).
Instructions for alternative carers
If you are normally the primary carer for your child, it is important to make sure that your alternative care (i.e. partner, family or friends) know in advance any special arrangements for looking after your child if you get sick (and/or have written instructions ready) - you may not be up to explaining all the details if you are ill.
- If your child has regular medication you could include details of when and how to give this medication. A useful template which you can adapt as required is available here, covering medication, allergies and other care (e.g. feeding, assistance with toileting etc).
- If your child has an EHCP, ensure that your section A is to hand to help others know about your child and how to support if you're unwell.
- If you don't have a section A, you could use a communication passport or hospital passport to help staff know your child's likes and dislikes. See the template here.
- You could complete a medication plan to help people know what medications your child is on. See the template here which you can adapt as required.
To help parents explain the current situation to children and young people, or individuals with Learning Difficulties a number of resources have been produced which you may find helpful.
Easy Read guidance about Coronavirus and vaccinations here.
General guidance explaining what Coronavirus is and what we need to do - child-friendly guides include:
- this one (available in a variety of languages including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French, Polish and Turkish)
- easy-read version like this one from the Down's Syndrome Association,
- Easy -Read guide from Mencap.
- Easy Read information from Public Health England
Information about why schools have closed and the importance of staying at home and social distancing, useful child-friendly explanations in graphic format.
Answering questions from your child:
Resources to support wellbeing, provide support for children or adults who are anxious, and general support in dealing with the current situation.
The Coronavirus pandemic may be a source of great anxiety both for adults and children, and may be especially difficult for individuals with existing mental health issues or those who find the situation hard to understand.
If you need someone to talk to you can contact the Samaritans round the clock - telephone 116 123 - and see the flyer here for more information and other ways to contact them.
Videos to help you support your child
Our Voice worked with Enfield Educational Psychology service and Mental Health Support teams to produce a set of six videos to help you create a sense of safety, calm, control, connectedness and hope in your child, and to look after your own wellbeing during this pandemic.
For more information and to view the videos (and links to support materials) see our website here.
General support for children with SEND
The BBC Bitesize SEND Toolkit includes a wide range of resources for supporting children with special needs and disabilities (as well as home learning support and fun activities) with managing emotions, keeping calm, mindfulness and Mental Health support.
Educational Psychology Service Family Telephone support line
If you would like help and advice with supporting your child's emotional wellbeing and mental health (or your own) or managing behaviour at home you can contact the Enfield Educational Psychology Service's Family Support Helpline. The helpline also provides help with supporting your child's learning at home, concerns about their general learning, development or well-being, access to information and resources and signposting to other services.
The Good Thinking Guide
The Good Thinking Guide produced by the Health London Partnership contains useful resources for managing your own wellbeing and that of your children, including dealing with anxiety, stress, sleep problems and low mood. It includes information about a variety of resources available including helplines and apps which you may find useful.
A collection of top resources to do with your kids and help them manage their wellbeing here.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
have a variety of useful resources which you can download from their website. These include specific guides and resources for dealing with Coronavirus anxieties and supporting our own and our children's mental health, for parents, younger and older children and young people.
They also have a wide range of different more general resources and tools for parents or carers and children. Topics include anxiety, self-esteem issues, self-harm, sleep, building resilience, managing stress, positive parenting, ADHD, controlling anger, Autism, problem-solving managing emotions and melt-downs, depression, adolescence, online safety, OCD, eating disorders, Tourettes, supporting children when someone close has a terminal illness or dies, Pathological Demand Avoidance and mindful colouring.
Thrive Enfield have created a variety of different guides to help support parents, children and young people during this difficult time:
Wellbeing support - how to look after yourself and your children
Let's Beat Coronavirus - information for children - a child-friendly guide to the situation and staying healthy
Going to school - a child-friendly guide explaining why some children are at school and others aren't
Staying home - a child-friendly guide about staying at home, what will change and what won't
Support for parents - caring for children without a break, caring for your teenagers, looking after yourself, feeling isolated, working from home and links to useful resources on these topics.
Supporting primary aged children - a guide for parents looking at how to talk to children about the situation and support them if they are worried, supporting home learning and useful resources
Supporting secondary aged children - a guide for parents on how to talk to young people about the situation and support them if they are worried, hopeless or angry, supporting young people with learning, and useful resources.
Healthy Enfield has a useful Mental Health and wellbeing section which has a variety of tips and resources to support your mental health including Are you OK? - a guide to your mental health during Coronavirus.
Mental Health Support for young people
Kooth is a web-based confidential support service available for young people which provides a safe and secure means of accessing mental health and wellbeing support. Kooth offers young people the opportunity to have a text-based conversation with a qualified counsellor, available 12 noon to 10 pm weekdays and 6 pm to 10 pm at weekends, on a drop-in basis. Young people can access regular booked online counselling sessions as needed. Outside hours young people can message the team and get support by the next day.
Resources from the Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation has some useful general resources for supporting your mental health including:
Healthwatch has put together a useful list of links about Coronavirus including a section on Mental Health Support, and Mental Health support for young people.
Play is a great way for children to deal with their emotions and manage stress and worry. This short film on the value of play has been created by the British Psychology Society/Division of Educational and Child Psychology.
Whilst many of our 'normal' day to day activities are cancelled or restricted, and many children are not attending school on-site, you may have concerns about the impact of this disruption on your children and be wondering how to help them adjust to the huge changes in their day to day routines for the immediate future.
If you would like help and support with supporting your child's learning at home, have concerns about their general learning, development or well-being, or need to access information and resources you can contact the Enfield Educational Psychology Service's Family Support Helpline. The helpline also provides advice regarding emotional wellbeing and mental health (your own or your child's), managing behaviour and sign-posting to other services.
The Enfield Educational Psychology service has produced useful guidance for Supporting your child at home during the lockdown.
This short film on the value of play from the British Psychology Society/ Division of Educational and Child Psychology looks at the importance of play and the way in which play helps children to manage their emotions and stress.
Managing the Transition to home-schooling is a useful document produced by the UCL's Centre for Inclusive Education which covers some of the issues you may be facing and gives guidance and tools for managing the changes with your child/children.
There is also useful information from the UCL's Centre for Inclusive Education here.
Resources for being at home with your children:
Below are a series of resources focusing on children with SEND that you may find useful for supporting home-schooling and for keeping your children entertained, calm and happy at home.
BBC Bitesize SEND toolkit has a wide range of useful resources for both learning and wellbeing, including music, fun activities, adapting physical activities, Makaton, BSL and supporting reading. There are a range of specific resources for children with specific special needs and disabilities including hearing impairments, visual impairments, Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Learning Disabilities.
Home Learning activities for children with Autism and/or Learning difficulties - these resources have been produced by Enfield Advisory Service for Autism in conjunction with Russet House school.
Useful Websites for Home Learning - this document has kindly been provided by a teacher and Behaviour lead at one of our local Special Schools.
There are some useful SEND specific resources (as well as a wide range of other materials) to support homeschooling on Twinkl - although this is no longer free to use, it is usually possible to download some specific items free of charge.
You can also find a range of other inclusive / SEND focused educational resources and activities for children on The Sensory Projects website.
Music Therapy Tree have provided accessible music therapy resources, suitable for children with autism and learning difficulties in the new Self-Isolation support area of their website.
Kids TV 123 - a YouTube channel with lots of educational songs e.g. numbers, phonics
GoNoodle - music and mindfulness
Cosmic Kids - Yoga and mindfulness for children
Stop Breathe Think - mindfulness and meditation for children
The Singing Walrus - fun educational songs with accompanying worksheets and flashcards
Just Dance - dance along to your favourite songs and follow the movements on the screen
Barefoot Books - animated singalongs and activity packs
The Learning station - 'brain break' action songs
Singing Hands on YouTube has a wide range of videos of songs signed in Makaton.
PBS Kids Music Games - educational games and activities related to music.
imoves - a range of fun activities to keep children happy, healthy and focused including Worry Monster, Pilates and meditation for mental health and well-being
Tate Paint - a tablet-friendly online paint game
Bumble Bee Physio are offering live physio for children who are wheelchair users
Great Ormond Street The Power of Play has a range of fun games and activities provided by their team of play experts.
Primary Homework help is a collection of resources aligned to the National Curriculum which is useful for searching multiple activities on a specific topic.
Crickweb has educational interactive teaching resources and activities for primary level children - search by key stage and subject.
Contact has a range of suggested resources for children with SEND here, which they will keep updated on a regular basis.
If you have concerns about your child's online safety, see our list of useful sources of information here.
We have put together two information packs gathering together key facts about local services, and information on events and activities over the Christmas period.
Information pack SEND - Information and support for parents and carers of children and young people with Disabilities and Special Educational Needs
Information pack Autism - an amended version of the information and advice pack for parents and carers, with a specific focus on support for children and young people with Autism (ASD, ASC, Aspergers and other neurodiverse conditions)
Our Positive Behaviour Support webinar took place on 3rd December, with Seema Islam and Rupali Bhullar from the Our Voice team presenting along with Bethanne Willingham (CAMHS and SCAN), Stephen Chatterjee (Durants School and PBS Coach) and Clare Redrupp (Cheviots and PBS Coach).
Here are the resources from the webinar
Wondering what to do this half-term? See our guide to what's on - including an exclusive Mr Marvel Halloween party for Our Voice members (join our mailing list if you'd like to come!).
Our Voice and SENDIASS held two videoconference sessions on 20th and 21st October, to give parents and carers of children in or close to year 6 to discuss the options and the process for transfer to Secondary schools. For those children with an EHCP, the deadline is 23rd October, and for all other children, it will be 31st October.
Resources for supporting your child during the transition
The following information may be useful in supporting your child during the transition to secondary school:
For children and young people:
Tips for pupils starting secondary school - an easy read guide for children and young people developed by The Foundation for people with learning disabilities, with University of Nottingham and University of Cambridge.
Things I could say to start a conversation when making friends - a useful list from SENDIASS
For parents and carers
Suggestions for families - a guide for parents and carers on how to support children with SEND during the secondary transfer - developed by The Foundation for people with learning disabilities, with University of Nottingham and University of Cambridge.
Secondary transfer guide from the Enfield Advisory Service for Autism - a guide to supporting children with Autism during the transfer.
Suggestions for supporting pupils - this is a guide aimed at teachers but which you may find useful (or wish to bring to the attention of your child's school) - it is developed by he Foundation for people with learning disabilities, with University of Nottingham and University of Cambridge.
We are holding an important videoconference in conjunction with SENDIASS looking at the transfer to secondary school, for the parents of children who are currently in year 6.
There will be two sessions:
Tuesday 20th October 10.30 am to 12 noon - book here
Wednesday 21st October - 12.30 pm to 2 pm - book here
These are for parents who want more information on choosing a secondary school for children with additional needs and expressing your preferences for children who have an EHCP (Education Health Care Plan).
We will discuss the process, how you can get information about secondary schools and what to look out for when making decisions.
For more information see our flyer.
We are aware that parents/carers of children with an EHCP need to submit their forms by Friday 23rd October. If you are unsure of the process or need some guidance we strongly urge you to attend these information sessions to help you make informed choices.