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Children with SEND: Covid-19

Volume 682: debated on Monday 12 October 2020

What steps he is taking to support children with special educational needs and disabilities returning to school during the covid-19 outbreak. (907350)

Children with special educational needs and disabilities have faced many challenges during the pandemic, and some of them will find returning to school difficult, but the good news is that more than 80% of those with education, health and care plans are now attending. We have published guidance and resources to support schools to re-engage pupils with learning. We are increasing high-needs funding by a nearly quarter—a record amount—over a two-year period and we are also providing an additional £1 billion in catch-up support for schools.

I asked the Education Secretary on 2 July and again on 7 September about support for children with SEND during the covid-19 catch-up. He said that he would write to me, but that letter has not been forthcoming. I ask again: what assisted technology is being offered as part of the distribution of laptops and tablets to enable pupils to work from home if needed? Will the Minister provide an answer this time or will I have to do this again next month?

I am enormously proud of the fact that we are one of the few countries in the world that have asked schools to remain open for vulnerable children, including those with the most severe disabilities. Although we know that they could not all attend due to their own circumstances, it is incredibly important that they all get back to schools. On remote learning, to support schools in delivering remote education, we have delivered a range of resources and guidance, including specific support for children and young people with SEND. Obviously, those who were eligible for laptops receive laptops and devices as part of that programme.