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Coronavirus and additional support for learning

My child is not able to attend school

There are some children and young people who still cannot attend school at the moment. For example, your child may be too unwell to go to school, they may be self-isolating because they have developed coronavirus symptoms, or they may have been advised not to attend school by their doctor or healthcare professional. They may also not be able to attend if there has been a local increase in coronavirus causing the school to temporarily close again.

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 for them during this time.

It might be difficult for your child to see their classmates and teachers back at school, if they are not able to be there. Even if all pupils are not able to attend at your child’s school at the moment, it may be tough knowing other schools in different parts of Scotland are still open.

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. It’s also important to remember, as during lockdown, you are not be expected to become your child’s teacher.

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 provide them with the support or adjustments they need. Arrangements should suit your child’s state of health and where they are (for example, hospital or home). It is important that the school and other professionals listen to your child’s views when they are arranging their out-of-school education.

There is more information in our factsheet on ‘When your child is too unwell to attend school’. There is also more 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 still learning at home.

It may not be clear when your child will be able to return to school, for example if it will depend on your child’s medical advice, or on the coronavirus situation in your local area.

Where possible your child’s school should 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 needs on-going healthcare or learning support at school, 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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Resources/Advice for Young People/

Our service Reach has bitesize, easy read advice to help you talk to your child about their learning and support during coronavirus.

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