Poor communication from Bristol City Council and difficulties accessing education, continues to mire the experience of children and young people with EHCPs, a new survey from a Bristol Special educational needs and disabilities (Send) campaign group has discovered.
Bristol Send Justice ran an online poll between 01-11 June 2020, to find out how lockdown was affecting the education of those with an EHCP from the local authority.
A lack of communication was a key theme to emerge, with nearly 50 per cent of respondents saying that they had heard nothing from the council since lockdown started. A 12.5 per cent of these were not happy with the communication they did have.
The poor experience has led Bristol Send Justice to call for the council to improve communication with parent carers in Bristol, saying that digital engagement and direct methods of communication from the Bristol Local Offer are critical.
A spokesperson for the group said: “We would like to improve communication between Send parents and the council in a positive way, something that is also a priority in the council’s Written Statement of Action to Ofsted. It’s really important that during critical times such as a pandemic when the law surrounding Send provision changes, that parents and carers are kept informed and know what to expect'”
The majority of parents also said they were ‘not happy’ with the way their setting was dealing with children with EHCPs during lockdown. The biggest worry for parents sending their children to school was not concerning coronavirus, it was additional concerns that Send provision would not be in place or that their children had unsuitable school placements.
One parent carer commented in their response to the survey: ‘I only heard through Facebook that the government had suspended all EHCPs. Nothing from Bristol City Council which I think is shocking.’
Another said: ‘Lockdown has magnified the gaps in the Bristol education system. Our provision appears to be using it as an excuse not to provide education at all.’
One Bristol parent carer whose child has an EHCP and is currently at a special school told us today how upset she is that her son is not accessing education.
The parent, who asked not to be named, said: “My son has an EHCP and goes to a Bristol special school. He hasn’t been able to go to school since March, although keyworkers’ children could attend. He is now allowed to go two days a week but then has to wait another three weeks before he is allowed back for another two days. My child is really stressed and his mental health is bad. He has started harming himself because of it. Vulnerable children with EHCPs are not all accessing schools despite the government saying they can.”
Bristol Send Justice said in their statement today that they are asking Bristol City Council to ‘consider’ its communication with Send parents, saying ‘parent carers are also lacking vital information concerning changes to the law regarding EHCPs during coronavirus as well as information about what settings should be doing and providing along with risk assessments.’