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07-07-2020 Cuppa and Chat

Our Voice are pleased to announce the launch of our new 'Cuppa and Chat' sessions, which started on Tuesday 30th June 8.30 - 9.30 pm. 

The remaining sessions will take place on:

Tuesday 7th July       8.30 - 9.30 pm 

Wednesday 8th July  10.30 - 11.30 am 

If the sessions prove popular, we plan to schedule more for the following weeks. 

These informal online sessions give parents and carers of children with Special Needs and Disabilities an opportunity to connect with others who may be facing similar challenges (including members of the Our Voice team), to share experiences and ask questions. 

The sessions are completely informal so don't worry if you need to arrive late, start early, or face regular interruptions from your children. 

No need to book - just join us on your computer, tablet or smartphone here. If you have not used 'GoTo Meetings' before you will need to install the app first here

For full details see our flyer here

03-07-2020 Latest Coronavirus news

Plans for schools to re-open in September: 

You will probably have seen that the government has announced plans to fully re-open schools in September, and has provided updated guidance on how this is expected to work. 

You can see a useful summary of the key points on the NNPCF (National Network of Parent Carer Forums) website here. Some of the key points are: 

  • Limits on group sizes will be lifted to allow schools to open at full capacity and children to return full-time
  • Schools and colleges will deliver their full curriculum ahead of exams next summer
  • Limits on nursery group sizes will be lifted from 20th July
  • Covid-19 secure measures to remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission e.g. regular cleaning and frequent hand-washing, schools being asked to keep children in class or year-sized bubbles, and children will be asked to self-isolate at home when necessary
  • The information also sets out what will happen in the event of Coronavirus cases arising at a school. 

The NNPCF have responded to the announcements setting out key issues and concerns relating to the impact on children with Special Needs and Disabilities - see their response here

Detailed guidance has been provided including guidance for schools, guidance for special schools, updated guidance for Further Education providers and guidance for Early Years settings and childcare providers

Our Voice is in regular discussions with the Local Authority and Health about how the provision is given and families are supported during this time. 

This page will be updated every few days with the latest developments. See our main Coronavirus news pages for a summary of advice over recent weeks: 

General Coronavirus news - a summary of recent developments and guidance as they impact on families of children and young people with SEND, living in the Borough of Enfield. 

Transition to homeschooling - advice on managing the change of routine, and some resources for home-schooling children with Special Needs and Disabilities  

Talking to children and young people about Coronavirus - Easy read guidance and story-boards. 

Advice in other languages

Anxiety and wellbeing - resources and support for parents and tools for children and young people. 

28-06-2020 Mr Marvel's Zoom Party

Our next exclusive Mr Marvel Zoom party will take place on Sunday 28th June 3 - 4 pm

This is a great opportunity to provide some fun and entertainment for your children via Zoom. It's a live, interactive show containing a mix of magic, puppets, games, live animation and of course the real magic bunny. 

Have a sneak peek here

This event follows the success of our last Zoom party which was a huge hit with all the children. One parent said "I just wanted to say a big thank you to Our Voice for organising this afternoon's Mr Marvel Zoom. Our son absolutely loved it, listening to him laugh and chuckle at Mr Marvel's antics was so lovely". 

The event is free but places must be pre-booked and are exclusive to Our Voice mailing list members. If you would like to join but are not already on our mailing list, please email us at info@ourvoiceenfield.org.uk, with your name, email address and telephone number, and ask to be added to our mailing list and receive details of how to book this event. 

12-06-2020 What's worrying you right now?

To help us support you and feed-back your concerns to the Local Authority Our Voice recently ran a survey to find out about parent/carers' biggest concerns during this difficult time. We focused on the issues around supporting your child's mental and emotional health and wellbeing and looking after your own mental health needs.

We had a great response to the survey, with some really revealing responses, showing how much pressure parents are under at this time. You can see a summary of the survey results here

We have shared this report with key Department Heads at the Local Authority and Health, and are now using this as a basis for discussions on what they could be doing to support employees. It will also form a basis for our own planning on what we should do over the next 3 or 4 months.    

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. 

12-06-2020 Transition to a new school during Covid 19

Our Voice has been flagging to the LA that parents and carers have particular concerns about the impact of the current lockdown on children with SEND who are due to transition to a new educational establishment this year (or leave education entirely), in many cases after the disruption of a prolonged absence from school, and potentially without a reasonable opportunity to achieve any kind of closure regarding their existing school. We were pleased to give parents' input (along with SENDIASS) to the Local Authority on parents' views and concerns about this issue. 

This information was fed into guidance which has now been issued to schools across the Borough

You can see a summary of the guidance here and the full guidance document here

03-06-2020 Coronavirus Guidance and news

Many parents and carers will have concerns about the Coronavirus outbreak, particularly anyone who has a child with additional health needs. 

Below we have pulled together some key sources of information and suggested some additional points that you may want to think about. 

The key government guidance is here. This is updated on a regular basis, including the FAQs which give more information on what you can and cannot do at the current time. Note that there is specific reference to those who need to exercise more regularly (or have more people accompanying them, or visit specific places) due to specific health conditions here, including the example of individuals with autism and learning difficulties. 

On 30th April, the government announced temporary changes to the law regarding EHCPs during the Coronavirus pandemic. You can see the details in a letter to parents issued by the DfE and DHSC here. For more detail see the Contact website here and the NNPCF statement here. On 29th May the DfE announced that they intended to extend the temporary changes until 30th June, and at the end of this period will decide whether to extend for a further period of up to a month. The two main provisions are that:

  • Education and Health support for a child set out in their EHCPs may be different for a period of time may be different and LAs and Health providers have to use their 'reasonable endeavours' to provide support. This means that they do not have to provide exactly what is set out in the plan if this is not practicable but they should try to find other ways to provide support e.g. over the phone. 
  • Legal timescales for EHCPs and Annual reviews are relaxed - LAs need to act as soon as they reasonably can. 

Our Voice is in regular discussions with the Local Authority and Health about how provision is given and families are supported during this time. We asked Gillian Douglas, current Head of SEN and Curriculum Inclusion, to update us on the impact of the temporary changes to the EHCP legislation - you can see her statement 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.

If you have questions about your benefits or finances please see the factsheet here. Guidance regarding support from electricity and gas suppliers is here

You will probably have seen that the government has announced plans to fully re-open schools in September, and has provided updated guidance on how this is expected to work. 

You can see a useful summary of the key points on the NNPCF (National Network of Parent Carer Forums) website here. Some of the key points are: 

  • Limits on group sizes will be lifted to allow schools to open at full capacity and children to return full-time
  • Schools and colleges will deliver their full curriculum ahead of exams next summer
  • Limits on nursery group sizes will be lifted from 20th July
  • Covid-19 secure measures to remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission e.g. regular cleaning and frequent hand-washing, schools being asked to keep children in class or year-sized bubbles, and children will be asked to self-isolate at home when necessary
  • The information also sets out what will happen in the event of Coronavirus cases arising at a school. 

The NNPCF have responded to the announcements setting out key issues and concerns relating to the impact on children with Special Needs and Disabilities - see their response here

Detailed guidance has been provided including guidance for schools, guidance for special schools, updated guidance for Further Education providers and guidance for Early Years settings and childcare providers

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. 

Useful guidance aimed at parents and carers has also been supplied by Carers UK here and Wellchild here.

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. 

Pets: although there is no evidence that pets can get sick from Coronavirus, it is believed that the virus could be transferred on pets' fur from one human to another so it is important to take appropriate precautions - see advice from the RSPCA and government advice

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. 

School attendance

If you are worried about your child's health (for example if they have a health condition which makes them particularly vulnerable) and the fact they are still attending school, do talk to your SENCo or School Head about this. We are sure they will be sympathetic and understanding given the circumstances.

Going to Hospital

The children and young people's emergency department at Barnet Hospital is currently closed and diverted to North Middx Hospital for London residents and Watford General for Hertfordshire residents. See the Barnet hospital website for more information. 

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. 

03-06-2020 Home schooling and home activities and resources

Now that the schools are closed, 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.

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.

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 which is free to use during the current school closures. You will need to sign up using the code UKTWINKLHELPS. 

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 videos of songs signed in Makaton, and will be doing live sessions at 10.30 daily from 6th April

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. 

03-06-2020 Anxiety and wellbeing

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.

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

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

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. 

Healthwatch 

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. 

Other resources 

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.  

28-05-2020 Q&As from Videoconference for parents with EPS and CAMHS

Following our videoconference for parents and carers last week, we have put together a Q&A document, covering the questions that you raised. We had a very useful conversation with representatives of Educational Psychology, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Social and Emotional Mental Health, Joint Service for Disabled Children, and Durants school (Behaviour lead). 

The Q&A summarises our discussions about the questions you raised covering: 

  • Supporting your child's learning at home
  • Emotion and behaviour (including challenging behaviour) 
  • Support for mental health issues - yours and your child's 

We have also included links to a range of other resources and websites on these issues. 

We will be working with a team drawn from EPS, CAMHS, SEMH, JSDC/Cheviots and Durants to look at what other support could be provided during this time, and had our first (virtual) meeting yesterday. We are using the results from our survey on your biggest concerns to inform our thinking so please do complete the survey if you haven't already had time to do so - it should take you less than 5 minutes. 

25-05-2020 Online safety for children

Online safety for children is particularly important at this time when many children will be spending extra time on electronic devices at home.

Parents often feel that they don't know enough about online safety and it can be difficult to know where to find the best reliable information - particularly information tailored to children with special needs and disabilities. 

Enfield Schools and Children's Services have kindly helped us to put together this list of useful sources of information including both SEND specific and general guidance and covering a wide range of topics from general internet safety to cyber-bullying.