COVID-19 mitigation measures: education provision and access to special schools

Researchers: Amy Skipp | Dr Vicky Hopwood ...

Project overview


This project will explore how educational provision during the coronavirus pandemic has changed for children and young people who attend special schools.

Schools and colleges in England closed for the majority of pupils in March 2020 in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pupils still permitted to attend include those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Children and young people with EHCPs are those with the most severe and complex special educational needs and disabilities and health conditions. There are 354,000 under-24s with EHCPs in England, almost half of whom attend special schools. This research will explore the factors influencing pupils’ attendance rate, both from the perspective of schools and colleges and of parents and carers of children and young people who normally attend special schools. It will examine the education, health and social care offered to those who attended schools or colleges and those who stayed at home during the lockdown period.

The researchers will collect data from special school and college leaders and parents and carers of children who attend special schools. An online survey link will be sent directly to all special schools and colleges in England to find out how special schools have responded to the pandemic, and will identify a subsample of 40 providers to include in qualitative interviews, which will explore in-depth what special schools have offered in-school and for home schooling offers during lockdown, the challenges these represent to schools and parents, factor affecting take-up of provision, how they will be applying requirements of ECHPs and their planned approaches to opening the school more widely.

In-depth interviews will also carried out with 40 parents of children and young people who would normally be attending special schools, reflecting a range of circumstances and experiences across child age and needs, family size, ethnicity, region, and take-up of in-school and out-of-school support during lockdown to explore parents’ approach to their child’s education, social care and health needs during lockdown, what has helped and hindered them during the pandemic and what their perceptions are of the immediate and longer term implications of the changes in educational provision.

The aim of this project is to ensure the voices of providers and families are represented in debates about policy and practice for children with EHCPs accessing specialist education. Outputs will include snapshots and case studies of the effects of lockdown on families and providers, intentions of how to return children with EHCPs to school, and perceptions of longer-term impacts of lockdown on specialist provision, children with SEND and their families. The findings will be disseminated in a number of papers swiftly after data collection, maximising their use by policymakers and practitioners to inform imminent decisions.

See askresearch.org.uk

Team


  • Amy Skipp
    ASK Research
  • Dr Vicky Hopwood
    ASK Research
  • Kathryn Hurd
    National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)

  • Eleanor Ireland
    Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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