Coronavirus: £10m emergency home-learning fund set up for families with SEND pupils

The government has set up an emergency £10 million fund to help around 19,000 children with special education needs with home education.

The announcement comes alongside confirmation the £26 million Family Fund will continue next year (2020-21).

The funding provides grants typically worth £400 to £500 to low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children to help with the cost of equipment, good or services. The government estimated 75,000 families will get support next year.

A pot of £10 million, provided by the department for digital, culture, media and sport, has been committed specifically to the “unique difficulties” presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cash will help families educate and look after their children who are “staying at home more than usual”. Examples of what the cash could go towards include computers, specialist equipment or educational toys.

A Department for Education adviser revealed last week the attainment gap between poorer pupils and their peers could rise by 75 per cent with schools stay closed to the majority of pupils.

Children’s minister Vicky Ford said the cash will make sure parents of SEND children get help “at this difficult time and beyond”.

“Our first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities. I know that these unprecedented times may put additional pressure on families, particularly those whose children have the most complex needs, and these parents deserve some extra help to look after and educate them at home.”

However those applying for a grant have been told there may be a delay in receiving the cash because the fund has fewer staff responding to more enquiries.

According to statistics released last year, 1.3 million pupils have special educational needs (14.9 per cent of the total pupil population).

The number has risen for three years running. Of those, 271,200 (3.1 per cent) had an education, health and care plan, meaning there was a document in place outlining what extra help they were entitled to.

The government has previously been criticised for a slow response and not doing enough to provide additional support for children off school.

For instance, the majority of free laptops provided under a new £85 million scheme won’t be delivered until next month (when schools will have reopened). Schools also said not enough were provided to cater for all of their disadvantaged pupils.

Parents can apply for the fund here.

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  1. David Reddall

    This whole system is a sick joke and the support services are hopeless.
    My granddaughter has ADHD/Autism. She was diagnosed with ADHD first, before any autism diagnosis. Parents were given ritalyn (excuse spelling) which they were told would calm her. Opposite effect and weeks of hell for parents and granddaughter even after they wisely chose to stop the medication. As a result an intelligent little girl was unable to face school (where she had been bullied badly) and was hypersensitive to clothing sound etc. The day before starting the damned drug she was enjoying school, wearing uniform and happy. Now she can’t face school, is not getting educated and isolated. School are trying their best but no central support. So called counselling and therapy groups are never available. Mental health social services are pathetic and can’t find solutions. Trying to find a community group where she could meet new friends is almost impossible. Parents enquired about a £500 support grant but no chance they earned too much. Despite the fact that their average salaries are both needed to pay bills etc and they’d be homeless without either salary. The money is supposed to help the child which is incidental.
    If anyone who reads this can offer advice I’d like to know……

    • Carl Mason

      David Reddall. Hi . I fully understand your situation as it mirrors my experiences. There are different manufacturers of Ritolin who use different recipes. This has an adverse effect on the child . See your doctor to change the medication.
      You will get no help from the authorities unless you ask, push and fight for help. Arrange a meeting with your MP for help , this is what they are paid rock stars wages for. Sour work them.
      Use emails as a record of their replies, phone conversations can be denied by the authorities. On FB is there a local SEND group to you ?
      1× of the parents will have to be a carer for funding , whilst the other works. This causes friction in the relationship. It’s not easey and the authorities make it hard to survive . At 18 the system changes again with different rules and regs . Use e mails and visit authorities face to face to fight your cause. Letters to your local papers add weight to your cause.