How will special education provision operate if the Coronavirus Bill is enacted?

20th March 2020

Charlotte Hadfield's brief(ish) introduction to temporary closure directions and temporary continuity directions, with a review of how special educational provision may operate if the Coronavirus Bill is enacted in its current form.

Read our guide as to how young people and those with special educational needs may be affected here: Education related provisions of the Coronavirus Bill

In summary (with particular reference to children and young persons with special educational needs and disabilities)

  • The Bill introduces two different types of direction: Temporary Closure Directions, which direct educational institutions and registered childcare providers to wholly or partially close, and Temporary Continuity Directions, which require relevant institutions (educational institutions and local authorities) and registered childcare providers to open some or all of their premises to attendees or particular classes of attendees for a specified period. Further information in relation to these directions appears below.
  • The Government has also published guidance for schools and local authorities on maintaining education, and information for parents and carers. These provide more information about what "critical workers" means and who "vulnerable children" are (so far we know that the latter includes children with EHC plans and children with social workers, so will include children in need, children with a child protection plan and looked-after children, but the list is not exhaustive).
  • The Government has also stated in its guidance that residential and special schools should stay open wherever possible.
  • Children with EHC Plans will be classed as vulnerable children and will be able to continue to attend school, presumably under a temporary continuity order if the government intends to close all schools from Monday (it is not yet clear exactly how this will be effected).
  • EHC Plans will remain in force, although section 43 may be disapplied, and the absolute duty upon the Local Authority to secure provision under an EHC Plan may be modified to a reasonable endeavours duty, and annual reviews and reassessments of need may be put on hold.
  • Parents and institutions will still be able to request EHC Needs Assessments, which can still be carried out; new Plans can still be issued, and appeals in respect of refusals to assess, refusals to issue and content of issued Plans can still be lodged.
  • The First Tier Tribunal has already put measures in place to attempt business as usual by holding case management hearings and appeal by telephone and videolink. Early indications are that this is a viable way of conducting at least some final hearings.

Continue reading Charlotte's note for further information.

Please email Charlotte with any questions.

Further information about our education barristers can be found here.