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Coronavirus and additional support for learning


Support for children who are learning remotely

Some children and young people with additional support needs are still currently learning at home due to coronavirus. Pupils who are on the shielding list are advised to stay at home, and continue with remote learning, until 26 April.

Even if your child is back to school, they may need to temporarily return to remote learning, for example if they have to self-isolate after developing coronavirus symptoms, if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive, or if there is a local increase in coronavirus causing a return to remote learning.

In this section we will explain what your child’s school should be doing to support your child to continue with their education while they can’t be in school, how they should plan for when your child can return, and where you and your child can find some support during this time.

It might be difficult for your child if they are not able to return to school yet, but they see their siblings, classmates or teachers back.

It is important that your child’s school thinks about what not being in school will be like for your child and considers their wellbeing. Your child’s education is unlikely to be the same as what it would be if they were attending school, however your child still has a right to an education and the school should support them to access learning.

There will likely be some changes to what your child’s additional support for learning will look like compared to when they were in school or nursery. However, if your child, for whatever reason, needs extra or different help to benefit from their learning – their school or nursery still need to offer them support based on their individual needs.

Equality laws have not changed, and local authorities, schools and nurseries still need to make sure they are treating children and young people fairly and taking an inclusive approach. There is more information in our factsheet on ‘Inclusion, equality and wellbeing.’

It’s also important to remember you are not expected to become your child’s teacher. This is a difficult time for everyone, for many different reasons, so do not put yourself under too much pressure and ask for help when you need it.

The school should continue to support your child to benefit from a broad, flexible curriculum that builds on their existing learning. If your child needs extra help to access learning at home, the school should try to provide them with the support or adjustments they need. It is important that the school and other professionals listen to your child’s views when they are arranging their out-of-school education.

In particular, if your child has complex additional support needs, personalised support should be in place to meet their individual needs. Local authorities and schools should ensure that they keep your child’s supports under constant review and monitor their learning and wellbeing.

There is information about different resources and supports available to help your child learn at home below.

Your child may also find it helpful to have a look at our website for children and young people, Reach.scot. It includes advice for pupils who are learning at home.

Currently the plan is for pupils on the shielding list to return to school after 26 April. However, the Scottish Government will keep the situation under review, and your child’s school should update you with what is happening when they know more. Your child’s return to school may be uncertain, for example if it depends on advice from their healthcare professionals if they are at greater risk from coronavirus.

While plans may need to change, where possible your child’s school should still be looking ahead and planning for supporting your child back to school when the time is right. Your child may need extra support to understand or follow new school rules. For example, some schools may use a one-way system when moving around the school. The school needs to consider carefully how they communicate and help your child understand any changes. For example, they may use things like visual signage to help explain rules and remind all pupils of the changes they need to follow.

Depending on your child’s health and vulnerability to coronavirus, planning for their return to school may also include doing an individual risk assessment. This should look at what adaptions and supports are needed to keep your child safe when they return. If your child already has a risk assessment in place, this should be reviewed and updated to reflect current circumstances.

If your child needs on-going healthcare or learning support, you can ask for their healthcare or learning support plans to be reviewed. If they do not have a plan in place, you may want to ask the school to open one for them. There is more information on support plans in our factsheets on ‘Planning your child’s support’ and ‘Supporting pupils with healthcare needs’.

If you are concerned that your child needs more or different support to help them with their learning while they cannot attend school, or help them return to school, you can speak to their school about this.

Our factsheet on Working together with your child’s school has some helpful tips for working together with the school to get the right support in place for your child. If you have already tried this and you are still worried about your child’s support, our factsheet on Avoiding and solving problems explains what other things you can do.

A large proportion of the learning available to pupils not able to attend school relies on internet access and the use of devices like a laptop or tablet, or at least a mobile phone with data.

If your child's school is only making learning available online, it is important to get in touch with the school to explain your situation. It is possible they may be able to help you get access to a device or internet connection.

The school may also be able to deliver packs out to you with learning materials for your child that do not require online access. They may be able to suggest some other ideas for activities you can do with your child to support their learning too.

Some children with additional support needs will face different challenges when it comes to learning online or from a screen. For example, if your child has dyslexia and lots of the work sent home by the school relies on written instructions from their teacher, they may find this particularly difficult.

Again, if your child has been struggling, it is important you contact their school to let them know and ask what the school can do to support their learning out of school. CALL Scotland can also offer you advice and support about different technology and adaptions that can be used to help support children and young people with additional support needs learn out of school.

The first place you should be able to find learning resources is from your child’s school. Some local authorities have also produced things like online learning hubs with links to learning resources and supports.

If you would like some extra ideas on where you can find further resources, here are a few good places to start.

We have included some widely useful resources for all children with additional support needs, as well as some resources for children with specific support needs based on the enquiries we most commonly receive through our helpline.

The first place you should be able to get advice and support from is your child’s school. However, there are also lots of services out there that can offer you advice and support.

Some of these services may look a bit different during coronavirus, but many are still offering help even if it does look a little different to before the coronavirus. You can find out more information by visiting services’ websites or getting in touch with them.

If you are looking for services that support children with specific additional support needs, try looking at our Find a Service tool for places including Scottish Autism, Dyslexia Scotland and Young Minds.

If your child cannot attend school at the moment, it may feel strange for them and they might be feeling worried or left out.

If your child is not feeling okay, they can get advice and support to help them cope with the changes in their lives, including with not being in school.


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