Brighton & Hove coronavirus FAQs for parent carers of children with SEND

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the coronavirus for parent carers of children with SEND in BRIGHTON & HOVE

Amaze has worked with the local authority and health services to try and answer some of your most pressing questions about how the coronavirus outbreak may affect our families. We will continue to add to this list as we get more information or as circumstances change. Brighton & Hove City Council have information about how their services are being affected on their website 

Education questions

I’ve heard the schools are going to shut on Friday evening, but that children with EHCPs can continue to go. Is that right? 

Schools, colleges and nurseries are closed until further notice for most children. The initial information was that schools should offer places in school for children of keyworkers, vulnerable children (e.g. who have social workers) and children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs). This was clarified in government guidance on 22 March 2020. The advice now is that if you can keep your child at home you should. The fewer children who mix in school the safer for everyone.  

Schools, nurseries and colleges will offer a form of care and education for the children who need this most based on a risk assessment for each child or young person. This includes children of key workers who would otherwise be unable to carry out essential work (list of keyworkers in next question) and children whose care needs or home situation mean that it is safer for them to attend school than not. Having an EHCP does not necessarily mean your school will offer them a place in school, but it does mean your school should be considering them individually to identify if they need this.   

Schools are currently identifying who they should be trying to provide for and contacting families to check information to work this out. 

The government has particularly asked that Alternative Provision e.g. PRUs stay open as pupils there are likely to be particularly vulnerable even if they do not yet an EHCP.

If you want to read the government guidance for yourself it is here: 

I’m not sure if I am counted as a key worker

The full list is available on the link below but includes staff who are essential in the effort to manage this crisis, including people working in the health and social care, education, key public services, utilities, financial and transportation services.  

How will my child’s school (special or mainstream) be able to look after my child if most of the children are staying at home, or if the teaching staff are unable to come in?  

Following the announcement, schools, colleges and local authorities have had to move quickly to work out how to offer care/education for the children they identify as needing to still attend. Schools have been contacting parents to say if you have the option to send your child in and what the offer for them may look like as it will not be their normal provision. If you have not heard from your school yet you should contact them.

The government announcement also stated “Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area.” We think this is likely to mean schools needing to work together across the city to develop an offer to these families, which is achievable and sustainable. This could look different to their normal provision – possibly in a different venue, with different teachers, and a revised timetable.

The Emergency Powers Bill currently going through Parliament will mean that schools and local authorities will only have to do what they reasonably can to meet their legal duties to your child. For example the duty to make the provision in an EHC plan (section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014) may be amended to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty. This means the LA needs to do whatever it reasonably can to put provision in place, but if they cannot do so they would not necessarily be breaching the law.  

But don’t they have to still provide what it says in my child’s EHCP? 

The government passed new legislation (19 March) in response to the outbreak. As a result, local authorities will need to use “reasonable endeavors to ensure that provision continues to be available to meet education, health and care needs for each child and prioritise their efforts to support those with the most complex needs. If they can’t maintain the usual provision despite these efforts, they will not be breaching their legal responsibilities. In simple terms this means you can’t insist on what it says in the EHC plan at the moment.      

If I agree to my child having provision now that doesn’t match what it says in their EHCP will it stay like that when things get back to normal? 

No. The government guidance is clear that parents who consent to changes to, or reductions in, their child’s provision during this outbreak will not be considered to have agreed a permanent change to what their child needs in their EHC plan. 

I don’t want my child with an EHCP to go to school as they have a weakened immune system or for other reasons. Do they have to? 

If you feel it would be too high risk to send your child to school because they, or someone else in your family, is at particularly high risk, there is of course no requirement to send your child in.  The updated guidance from government is clear – if a vulnerable child can be at home, they should be. Your child’s school should carry out a risk assessment to see if they can offer your child some provision safelySimilarly if the kind of offer your child’s school is making for them is one that you feel will be too unsettling for them you can turn it down. The only parents who may not have a completely free choice whether or not to take up the offer for their child are those who have a social worker involved i.e. through a child protection plan and it is seen as being strongly in the child’s interests to go to school 

The guidance dated 19 March 2020 stated: “We recognise that children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) and their parents and carers are facing numerous challenges as a result of coronavirus. We are encouraging local authorities to keep open both residential special schools and residential specialist colleges wherever possible. In addition, we want to keep the majority of day special schools and colleges open, including moving staff into these settings to avoid closure. 

Special schools, colleges and local authorities are advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan. For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home. We trust leaders and parents to make these decisions and will support them as required.” 

For more details see: 

If my child has an EHCP can my paediatrician support me to decide if my child’s health profile is suitable for them to return to school?  

Ratna Sundrum, the medical lead at Seaside View Child Development Service, says: “There are likely to be changes to the services that Seaside View will be offering over the next few weeks. However, if you have any health concerns about your child, paediatricians can be contacted to discuss these concerns and arrange any assessment and action if appropriate. If your child has medical conditions or a disability, you may wish to discuss the risk of your child attending school with one of the Seaside View or hospital paediatricians.” Seaside View Child Development Service can be contacted on 01273 265780. Bear in mind the challenges facing health services and only take up this offer if you need to given that the advice is to keep children at home as far as possible. 

My child has an EHCP but is in a private, independent, non-maintained school, college or nursery. Do they need to enable them to still attend? 

Yes, nurseries, private schools, sixth forms and FE Colleges have all been asked to follow the same guidance. Again there is a lot of detail for them to work through about which children and young people they need to provide for and how to implement an offer to these children in practice. The government has said they will provide financial support for these settings as required.  But we have heard that some are closing to all children and young people regardless. Check with the setting your child attends. If they are not making a plan for your child and you think your child is one of those that needs to be getting provision in school rather than being safer at home ask the SENDIASS helpline for advice.

If my child was out of school before the school closures were ordered, do I still have an entitlement to alternative education? 

If your child attends a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) or Alternative Provision, this setting may remain open to provide support for children in the ‘vulnerable’ category and/or children of key workers. 

If your child was not receiving any education, it is likely to be very difficult to enforce the LA’s duty to provide education while schools in general remain closed, simply because almost all children are now in the same situation. 

What about the Easter holidays – I heard our child (with an EHCP) can still attend school then, is this right? 

Yes, the government’s guidance says “Where possible, we would encourage settings to also look after key workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays.Once again providers locally will be working out how they can do this and which children should have the offer of this childcare as it is unlikely to be all children with EHCPs. When we have more information we will add it here.  

I’m worried we will be asked to provide some education or learning for our children whilst they are off school, but I wouldn’t know where to start

Most schools have started to prepare and send resources home with the children. Clearly, this may be much harder for some children with learning difficulties or additional needs, or if you have to work from home as well as look after the kids. There are lots of tips online from experienced home educators, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself as this is going to be new for everyone. Surely, a bit of TV now and then will be fine!

See our blog about surviving the lock down on the Compass Card website:  

Also useful is this link:

In addition, the Department for Education are working with the BBC and others to provide resources for children to access while at home. We will add details here as we find them. For parents with children under five years old 

Do we know how long schools will close for? 

No not yet, the government’s announcement just says ‘until further notice’. The Scottish government has been clearer and have said their schools will be closed until August so we could anticipate the same will apply in England.   

I’m worried I won’t be able to cope if schools are shut for a long time. Who should I call?

Nobody knows how this situation will play out and how long schools will be shut. If you are worried about how you will support your child at home then please talk to your child’s school in the first instance. You can always contact the Amaze helpline for additional support and seek peer support from other parents/carers on the Amaze Facebook Group or other local parent-led SEND groups such as mASCot ( and Brighton Pebbles (

The following resources have some helpful tips for coping with a lockdown:

My child with SEND is really going to struggle without the structure and routine of school – any tips? 

If your child uses Makaton here’s a resource to explain why they aren’t going to school: 

It may help to create a visual timetable for your child so they can have structure in their days at home. See this template for an example 

Or visit Autism Train’s website. They have put together several useful resources about creating a routine and using a visual timetable 

Our child is currently having their needs assessed for an Education Health and Care Plan. How will this process be affected?  

The SEN Team at Brighton and Hove City Council will be continuing to complete EHC needs assessments and produce EHC plans. They are having to work differently in these difficult times. There is information about how this will work on the Local Offer: 

The Government have said that they are amending SEND regulations to change timescales relating to EHC plan processes, but BHCC have said they will try to keep to these as far as possible. Reports by professionals will have be done based on existing knowledge of a child. You and your child should still be actively involved in the process. 

Will annual reviews still need to be carried out? 

The Coronavirus Emergency legislation has given LAs and schools some flexibility on the deadlines for annual reviews. Summer term annual reviews may be postponed, although some schools are using telephone and video conferencing to carry out some reviews. 

I have an appeal in progress to the SEND Tribunal or was about to lodge one. How will this be affected?  

The SEND Tribunal has confirmed that hearings will be on paper or by telephone (and, where the technology permits, by video) starting on Monday 23 March 2020.  

The Tribunal have asked parties not to call the Tribunal until 2 days before hearings if they haven’t heard anything as, like every public service, they are affected by staff shortages as a result of COVID-19. 

With these measures, it is expected that there should be no need to adjourn hearings if the parties are ready to go ahead, even though they may not be able to take place in person. 

For new appeals timescales and priorities have changed in the light of the current emergency. Any new appeals are now going to be listed on a 20-week timetable, unless it is about a phase transfer, which will be 12-14 weeks.  

You can find further guidance on how telephone and video hearings will be used during the COVID-19 outbreak here 

I was about to take an issue to the Local Government Ombudsman. How will this be affected?  

The LGO are not taking any new cases for the time being. 

What about exclusions? 

The guidance from the government does not mention exclusions. This means schools still have the legal power to exclude. Of course the usual rules around exclusions still apply so schools must have a lawful reason to exclude and any formal exclusion must be non-discriminatory, reasonable, fair and proportionate. In current circumstances it is hard to see how exclusion could be justified if the risk assessment process described above has identified that they are one of the few children that need to be in school. Seek advice from our SENDIASS helpline if it does happen to your child.  

Support from Amaze

What support can we expect from Amaze?

Amaze are doing all we can to keep our services going in some form. Amaze and PaCC employ a large number of parents and carers who are affected now schools are shut and like everyone we may be affected by sickness and self-isolation. So things may be slower than usual. We are trying to find different way to do things that would normally involve meeting you face to face individually or in groups. 

We are keeping our Helpline open to provide families with up to date information, advice and support. You should call 01273 772289 or email  Workers are running this from home so you will need to leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Please also explore our website. It has lots of useful information and resources for parent carers and young people with SEND. 

Amaze will also continue to provide some casework appointments (SENDIASS, Looking Forward and Disability Living Allowance /Personal Independence Payment  help) but these will be provided virtually/on line or over the phone. 

Our Amazing Futures sessions for young people have stopped but we are finding other ways to keep in touch and have fun together. 

Our Face 2 Face befrienders can no longer make visits but again we are working out how to keep offering befriending support to parents in other ways. 

Amaze has had to stop all workshops and outreach. But we encourage families to continue to come together virtually using existing Facebook Groups e.g. Dad’s Group, F2F Breakfast Club, PaCC, and the more general Amaze groupAmaze will be looking into setting up more virtual solutions including training webinars in the coming weeks. 

The Compass team are continuing to process Compass forms and send out Compass Cards. It may take a bit longer than usual so please bear with us. Many Compass Card offers are affected by coronavirus but the Compass team are producing ibformation about things to do during the current lockdown  

Health questions

If I suspect my child with SEND/underlying medical conditions is showing signs of coronavirus what should I do? What about their siblings?

At present, there is no separate advice for people with underlying medical conditions who display possible coronavirus symptoms. As with all other cases, if your child has a high temperature or a new, persistent cough, they should self-isolate at home for 14 days and the rest of the family should self-isolate with them. If at all possible you should try to keep them in a separate room from other people in the house. All other people in the household should also stay at home and self-isolate, where possible.

Here is the government’s advice about self-isolation

If your child’s condition does not improve after 7 days or symptoms worsens, you should contact NHS 111

There is specific advice and plans for additional support for people of any age who are in the extremely vulnerable group at risk of very severe illness if they catch the virus. If your child or you are in this group you will get a letter or be contacted by your GP by Sunday 29 March 2020. For more information  

Keep checking the NHS website for guidance in case of changes

I think my child’s health issues mean they are in the “extremely vulnerable” group. What do I need to know?  

There is specific advice and plans for additional support for people of any age who are in the extremely vulnerable group at risk of very severe illness if they catch the virus. If your child or you are in this group you should get a letter or be contacted by your GP by Sunday 29 March.  

We have heard from some parents that this system is not working perfectly. The NHS are using information they have “coded” on medical records and this can mean some people are told to shield who are not extremely vulnerable and others who are have not been contacted yet. If you are unsure contact your GP or your child’s specialist to check 

For more information  

Keep checking the NHS website for guidance in case of changes 

I’ve got symptoms of coronavirus and am self-isolating but I live and care on my own for my child with SEND – what should I do?

You should follow the NHS advice about staying at home. Where possible you should try to get someone else to care for the child(ren) so that you can self-isolate in a separate room. You ideally need to keep two metres away from others, sleep in a separate bed, and use your own towels. Please see more advice here

Lots of new local support networks are setting up to help look after each other in practical ways during the pandemic. See Brighton Covid 19 Mutual Aid Facebook group or search for your own.

Some individuals and neighbourhoods are also offering help via a #viralkindness postcard that has taken off nationally. And Amaze has set up a version of this card that enables neighbours to offer particular help to families who have a member with additional needs

In addition to my child with SEND/underlying medical condition, I also care for an elderly relative. What should I do?

As both elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk we advise you to do all you can to minimise spread of the infection according to the latest government advice

Should I be asking my child’s doctor for additional medication for them at this time?

GPs and pharmacies are reassuring patients that medical supply chains are in place and working well but we have also read stories about shortages and delays.

Check your child’s supply of medication now and, if you are worried about running out, you should call your GP surgery and talk to them about reordering.

You can also register for getting repeat medication directly from your pharmacy. Patients in Brighton & Hove and Worthing can register via RepeatMeds If you haven’t already set up an account, it’s very easy to do so. You need some basic patient details including your GP surgery and to nominate a pharmacy. You can request any drugs currently on your repeat prescription list and they will deliver.

Should / can we stock up on personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene products or over the counter medicine? Can GPs help as some shops are already empty?

PPE like masks and gloves are in short supply across all local authorities. We’ll keep you updated if we get information about supply chains or solutions.

Most supermarkets are now operating restrictions on the amount of sanitary goods, medicines and food staples that people can buy so theoretically supplies will be maintained but you may need to get there early in the morning or ask staff when deliveries are expected.

If you already get pain relief medication via prescription, you will be able to reorder this via your nominated pharmacy, otherwise you would have to contact your GP first to request it. If the big supermarkets don’t have any paracetamol or Calpol, try your local corner shop or convenience store who may keep stocks behind the counter. Alternatively, ask some of your neighbourhood or online networks.

Will our booked appointment with my child’s Community Paediatrician still go ahead? 

There are likely to be changes to the services that Seaside View will be offering over the next few weeks.

Seaside View will contact you to let you know about changes and how they will carry out planned appointments. However, if you have any health concerns about your child, paediatricians can be contacted to discuss these concerns and arrange any assessment and action if appropriate. Seaside View Child Development Service can be contacted on 01273 265780. 

My child has currently got therapy support or other appointments coming up. Will these still be going ahead? 

All services are having to do emergency planning for a potential scaling back of services and will be working out how they can continue to provide services for families by alternative methods, eg telephone. Community paediatricians and therapists are also considering how they can offer face to face appointments if they are clinically indicated. 

What if my child has a hospital appointment or I need to take them to hospital? 

We have been told that if children need admission by General Paediatrics services, all precautions are taken in the acute wards. But, although planning for any eventuality, health clinicians are not expecting that most children will be severely ill with this virus, because that has not been the pattern at all worldwide. 

What about dental appointments? 

Routine dentistry and orthodontic treatment has now stopped and will be postponed until the situation changes. 

All dental practices will be required to establish (independently or by collaboration with others) a remote urgent care service, providing telephone triage for their patients with urgent needs during usual working hours, and whenever possible treating with advice, pain relief etc. If your child has a dental problem start by contacting your usual dentist. 

Mental health questions

My child has high anxiety/mental health issues and is very worried about CV. What can I do to support them?

Local charity Safetynet have some very helpful information and ideas:  

Special Needs Jungle has produced this useful article:

There are easy to read, video resources and social stories explaining coronavirus for children and young people,


Social story around the virus:


If you have particular concerns about your child’s emotional and mental health you can ask the Schools Wellbeing Service for a call from a Primary Mental Health Worker for a telephone consultation. This is for childen who norammly attaend school in the city and are now off school because the schools have closed. Email or call 01273 293481. A Primary Mental Health Worker will call you back. This should be within two days, but they expect to have a high demand so it may be longer. 

This is not a crisis number – if you require immediate support you need to contact your GP, call CAMHS duty care on 03003040061 or go direct to A&E.  

For information on different services available, please visit for example for young people. 

I have high anxiety/mental health issues of my own and I am getting very anxious about CV, what should I do/who can help me?

You can contact the Amaze helpline for support and seek peer support from other parents/carers on the Amaze Facebook Group or other online groups for parent carers. The following resources may also be useful:

Social care questions

What support can we expect to get from the Specialist Children’s Disability Service (SCDS)?

SCDS will be focusing its staffing resources on where it is needed most to ensure children and young people receive safe care. This means they may need to concentrate on some areas and reduce in others. The team has confirmed their offer to families will be:

  • Contact and visit families at highest risk
  • Daily contact with those families who are the most vulnerable
  • To set up a SCDS and Partners email inbox account for sharing information
  • Drove Road and Tudor House will continue to offer respite for as long as possible
  • Offer additional direct payments if PA availability is reduced

Are Drove Road and Tudor House (residential respite providers) going to close?

At present Brighton & Hove’s respite centres remain open for overnight respite. There may come a time when this provision has to cease due to staff shortages and families needing to self-isolate but the team will keep these services open for as long as possible. If the centres do close the local authority will try to offer other options for short breaks like additional direct payments or support from outreach and social work staff.

If my child’s PA is symptom free, would they still be able to come and help/take my child out if schools close? What if my PA is sick or self-isolating?  

Yes your PA should work as usual unless they are sick or self-isolating.  

Everyone in the city who gets Direct Payments is being sent a letter from Social Care with answers to key questions if you use your Direct Payments to employ PAs. We have been told this letter is being sent on Friday 20 March.  

What advice should I be giving to my child’s PA about self-isolating, whether they should still be working, etc.?  As employers, we have responsibilities and we want to be sure we are doing things properly

Independent Lives have produced some really useful, detailed guidance about what to do if your PA is self isolating either because they are displaying symptoms or because you feel it’s safer for them to do so for everyone’s wellbeing. See (the really useful info starts half way down the page).

Is there any extra funding available if my child’s PA can do extra hours?

The Specialist Community Disability Service may be able to look at funding some additional direct payments to support families during this time. You need to contact them directly on 01273 295550.

I am worried my child’s PA or respite provider will get sick/close and I won’t be able to cope. Who else can help me?

If you are worried about not being able to cope, you can call the Amaze Helpline in the first instance and if you leave a message (or send an email) we will phone you back to discuss your concerns.

If you are already under the care of the Children’s Disability Social Work team you should let them know if any part of your agreed social care support package is not happening as normal/required e.g. if your child’s PA becomes ill or is self-isolating and you have not been able to find a replacement.

Or if you don’t have any support but you feel that you need help then you should contact the Specialist Community Disability Service on 01273 295550.

For more advice on families caring for children with serious and complex health needs, see this information from Well Child and Carers UK: 

Money questions

My child would normally receive free school meals and I am worried about the extra costs of feeding my family when the schools are closed 

The government has announced that they will support schools to be able to offer an alternative for children eligible for free school meals. Schools will be able to purchase meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops. You should have heard you’re your child’s school but there is information on current arrangements in Brighton & Hove here 

Please beware of scams. Schools will NOT ask you for bank details. 

Brighton Food Partnership have information about to get hold of food if you are struggling because of the Coronavirus. This includes how food banks are operating now and information about free or low cost delivery services for groceries or meals 

My child’s DLA is about to run out and I need help with applying for this or PIP

The government has announced that there will be no new reviews or reassessments across all benefits for three months. This includes DLA and PIP, as well as Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance. Awards that were due to expire will be extended by three monthsSo if you have an existing DLA claim or if your child is due to turn 16 and switch to PIP you should not now have to do this for the time being.  

The DWP have also stopped all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits for the time being. If you have an appointment you do not have to go to this. They will contact you. 

It’s not yet clear whether people who have already been sent renewal claim forms will still be expected to return them in good time and before the date their current award ends. So if in doubt and you or your child’s award is ending in the next 4 weeks, it is probably worth ringing DWP to check and request an extension. Hopefully this will become clear in the next few days. 

If you were due to ask for your child’s claim to be reassessed because of a change in circumstances, for example to get the mobility component when your child turns five, you can still do this. 

You can continue to phone/email the Amaze helpline for advice about reviews and reassessments 

I was about to claim DLA or PIP. Can I still do that? 

Yes the DWP are still taking new claims as usual. You can phone/email the Amaze helpline for advice and help. It may take a bit longer for us to help, but don’t miss out on these valuable benefits by delaying starting a claim. 

I have just had a decision on a DLA or PIP claim that I think is wrong. Can I still try to get this changed?  

Yes. If you already have a decision that you do not agree with, be aware the timescales for requesting a mandatory reconsideration or lodging an Appeal are short and have not changed. If you need extra time to get advice do contact DWP and ask for more time given the current crisis.  

You can continue to phone/email the Amaze helpline for advice about reconsiderations and appeals. 

I have an appeal in progress about DLA or PIP. What is happening with appeal hearings?  

Appeal hearings have been put on hold so the appeals service can work out how to carry them out in another way e.g. by phone or video conference. They will contact you to let you know what is happening. If your appeal hearing is less than a week away and you have not yet heard you should call them. 

I am worried about how my family is going to survive this financially.  I can’t afford to stay at home if I am sick or to care for my child. I am self-employed and can’t work. Or I think I may lose my job. What help is there? 

The government has introduced a range of measures to help people in the crisis. 

Statutory sick pay (SSP) is now available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice. The extended SSP is for all those who are advised to self-isolate, even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms. SSP will be payable from day one instead of day four for affected individuals. 

If you are not eligible to receive sick pay you may be able to apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance. Citizens Advice explain things here: 

There have been changes in how to apply and some aspects have been made easier or more generous, for example allowed housing costs. Official government information on coronavirus and claiming benefits: Understanding Universal Credit  This has information on new claims and for existing ones and covers more than just Universal Credit.  

If you are employed but could be laid off due to coronavirus affecting your job, your employer may be able to get government support to keep paying you 80% of your normal pay. You will need to ask your employer but for an outline of how this works look here 

Other steps include avoiding people having their utilities cut off or losing their home for falling behind with their rent or mortgage payments. Find out more here: 

And you can get an isolation note through a new online service on the NHS website ( and NHS 111 online ( Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.  

Other useful websites for advice: 


Amaze has put together this list to try and answer some of the concerns families have expressed to us about how coronavirus will affect them. Our answers were compiled based on the latest advice from trusted sources such as Public Health England, the NHS, Brighton & Hove City Council, East Sussex County council and national or local news outlets reporting the same. Even with the reliability of our sources, we cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the information or any actions taken as a result.


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