A new report out this week finds the majority of parents caring for disabled children at home during lockdown are worried about how much home schooling they are managing to do.
The findings in the report #LeftInLockdown – Parent carers’ experiences of lockdown from the Disabled Children’s Partnership, shows that 64 per cent of parent carers educating their disabled child at home were concerned about how much work they were able to do. When it came to home schooling their siblings, 61 per cent said they were also worried about how much school work they were managing to fit in with them.
More than 4000 parent carers took part in the research of which 32 per cent said they were getting no specific support from school for their child’s special educational needs or disability.
A total of 30 per cent were not eligible for a school place during lockdown. Of those that were, 20 per cent were ‘informally’ told by the school or council that their child should not attend and 11 per cent were told not to attend after a risk assessment took place.
When it came to the quality of provision the children attending school were accessing, just 43 per cent said it was ‘good’, with 40 per cent claiming it was just average and 18 per cent branding it ‘poor’.
‘We have left completely alone,’ one person said. ‘Not even a phone call. Child is unable to learn at home. Sees home as home school as school. Huge rows and meltdowns when attempted. I fear he will very very behind when school continues.’
Another parent said that home school was ‘incredibly hard’ to do with her autistic child and neurotypical child, with the sibling being left to get on with it by themselves.
And despite government claims that children and young people with an Education Health Care Plan would be able to access school, parent carers across the country are saying this simply isn’t the case.
A parent carer whose child has an EHCP said: ‘Although my child has an EHC plan, they are not able to access school as they attend a special school and there would be too many pupils to make it safe. He is currently meant to be doing transition to secondary school. As a non-verbal child we cannot explain or prepare him for the change in September and are very concerned that lack of preparation will have a long term impact on his mental health and his ability to adapt to a new setting.’
The Disabled Children’s Partnership states: ‘The Government must better recognise the specific needs of disabled children and their families and the additional pressures they are facing during the crisis. Financial difficulties, poorer mental health, and additional caring responsibilities mean that they will be facing lockdown in a different way and with a greater level of intensity than the majority of the population and the Government’s approach should reflect this.
Many families with disabled children do not feel that Covid-19 information is relevant to their situation. They feel forgotten. Whether its uncertainty about shielding, daily exercise, or managing additional caring responsibilities due to service cuts, lockdown has affected the whole family and a similar holistic approach is required across Government to ensure that no-one falls through the cracks. There needs to be a cross Government approach, involving multiple different departments, to provide clarity for families of disabled children and a recognition of their needs in any measures that are announced.’