Local Offer Coronavirus Advice and Information
We know this has been, and continues to be, an anxious time for SEND families in Manchester. This page has resources around Covid which we've been gathering since the start of the pandemic.
If you can't find what you're looking for, take a look at our SEND Information Hub and Welcome To Manchester Local Offer. You can also sign up to our newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org - see recent editions.
The Local Offer Team
Manchester - Support In The City
Manchester Coronavirus Information Hub & Helpline
The Council also has a dedicated helpline to help residents cope at this time. It can help with a range of needs, including delivery of food and medication, and managing fuel top-up payments. Call 0800 234 6123 on Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm. A text messaging service has also been set up. Text 078600 22876 and your message will be responded to by the next working day. This video in British Sign Language (BSL) tells people about the service and how they can get support.
If COVID-19 has changed your personal circumstances, find out where to get support on the Council’s website.
Manchester COVID-19 Helpline
The free Manchester COVID-19 Helpline is available seven days a week from 9am-5pm. Call 0800 840 3858 for help with Covid questions, booking vaccinations, help to book testing and questions about when to self-isolate. Advice is from a nursing team, with a translation service available. Here is an easy read pdf of this information and a video in British Sign Language.
COVID-19 Community Resource Hub - Manchester
Manchester City Council has a resource hub of public health information around coronavirus in languages and alternative formats.
Manchester In Winter (November 21)
Manchester City Council has a winter web page, including details of Covid and flu vaccines, help with fuel bills, and more. There’s an accompanying video in British Sign Language with winter wellbeing advice.
Government Updates, Vaccinations, Testing etc
- Guidance From Government & other organisations
- Information in alternative formats & languages
- Shielding advice
- Face-coverings. reasonable adjustments card & lanyards
- Safer travel guidance
- COVID-19 recovery
See 'Manchester - Support In The City' for information from Manchester City Council and other local services.
Covid Update (January 22)
The latest Office for National Statistics data show that infection levels are falling in England and that scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally. From 27th January, there was a return to Plan A. There is no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings. However, choosing to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces can help to stop the spread of COVID-19, along with hand-washing, cleaning surfaces and opening windows.
Omicron Variant (December 21)
Covid Plan For Autumn & Winter
Guidance for Unpaid Carers (Winter 21/22)
The Government has updated COVID-19 guidance for people who provide unpaid care, including vaccinations, emergency planning, PPE, young carers, visiting care homes, support and more.
COVID-19 Family Support Hub
The Council for Disabled Children COVID-19 Family Support Hub is regularly updated with the latest guidance and advice for families as we move through the pandemic. It includes information around clinically extremely vulnerable children and vaccinations for children and young people.
Test & Trace Support Payment
Parents and carers who need to take time off work to care for a child or young person who is self-isolating, can apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment of £500. Find out more here.
Updated Government Guidance
- For people who are providing unpaid care to adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults during the coronavirus outbreak (Updated Aug 21)
- For care staff who are supporting adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults during the coronavirus outbreak (Updated Aug 21)
Vaccination Update (January 22)
If you haven’t had your Covid vaccines yet, there is still time. No one at a vaccination centre will judge you. You will be welcomed, vaccinated and thanked for doing so. It remains one of the most effective defences against Covid and will not only protect you but also your family, friends, colleagues and everyone in the city.
You can book and manage your vaccination appointments online. See this NHS information.
There are also Walk In vaccination centres across the city. This Manchester City Council website page has information on times and dates.
The Council are offering a free taxi service to get individuals and families to and from particular vaccine centres for Covid jabs. If you can’t walk there, use public transport or don’t drive, this service can help. It's available for listed sites – find out which ones and how to book in this ‘Manchester Jab Cab’ information.
Vaccination Update (December 21)
In response to the Covid-19 Omicron variant, all adults aged 18-39 will be eligible for a booster vaccine when the NHS calls them forward. The booster will be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to older adults and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group. The booster will be given no sooner than 3 months after the second dose. Find out more about the booster vaccine - if eligible, you can book it here.
If you are still to have your first or second dose, there are plenty of walk-in clinics available across the city. Carers Manchester answer questions you may have about vaccinations. This Government information includes advice about second doses for ages 12 to 15.
Vaccination Information (November 21)
Carers Manchester have vaccination information on why the booster is important, how to get your booster jab, what to do if you've not had your first or second jab yet, flu vaccines, and letting your GP know you are a carer.
To help with the confusion around vaccinations and entitlements, Contact have put together vaccination information for all age groups. There is also advice around disabled children, including how many doses of the Covid vaccine they should get and what to do if your vulnerable child is refused a second jab.
Flu Vaccine (Autumn 21)
Flu vaccination is especially important this year. If you've had COVID-19, it's safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu. Find out who can have the vaccine and where to get it.
Booster Programme (Sept 21)
The NHS is rolling out a booster vaccine programme this winter, giving those aged over 50 extra protection. It also includes unpaid carers, people living in care homes, front line health and social workers, those aged 16-49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals. See this government information.
Support In Getting The Vaccine (May 21)
Parent carer Margaret shares her experience of finding the right support for her adult son to get the vaccine. Her story raises important issues around reasonable adjustments under the Equalities Act for learning disabled people to receive the vaccine in a sensitive and supportive way.
Vaccinations & Disabled Children (June 21)
Contact has written another letter to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) asking for clinically extremely vulnerable children to be to be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines when they are available. Their vaccination survey shows that almost 70% of parents want their disabled children under 16 to have a vaccine when it has been through trials and is licensed for use by children. Read more here. Contact’s FAQs on the vaccine can be found here. UPDATE: The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children aged 12-15 in the UK. The vaccines committee will now decide whether children should get the jab as part of the UK rollout.
Sir Lenny Henry's Letter To Black Britons (April 21)
Sir Lenny Henry has written an open letter encouraging Black Britons to take the COVID-19 vaccine, signed by some of the most high-profile names in the UK. It has been turned into a powerful short film, supported by the NHS. You can read the letter here, which gives background information on why it was written.
This moving video – If You Could Save Someone’s Life – brings together British celebrities to dispel COVID-19 vaccine myths amongst Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
CAHN's COVID-19 Vaccines Report (April 21)
The Caribbean & African Health Network (CAHN) has produced a ‘COVID-19 Vaccines Report’ following a special Health Hour information session in January. Black clinicians were able to hear from and reassure people of African and Caribbean heritage so they would feel more confident about taking the vaccine. You can read the report here.
Adults With Down's Syndrome (Dec 20)
The Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) have flagged an announcement the Government made at the start of November. Adults (18+) who have Down’s syndrome have been added to the list of people who are classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV). GPs have been instructed by the NHS to ensure that the records of all their adult patients who have Down’s syndrome have them coded as being on the CEV list. GPs were also provided with a letter that explained the change, along with an easy read version, to send to their patients. The announcement of the COVID-19 vaccination priority list makes it even more important that the medical records of adults who have Down’s syndrome are up to date and correctly coded so they have the vaccine as soon as possible. You can read more in the DSA’s latest coronavirus news, under 30 November. There is a template letter for your GP if you have not heard from them. Adults with Down’s syndrome in England are also able to request a free, four-month supply of vitamin D.
You will only be invited directly by your GP or the NHS when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Anyone offering a paid-for vaccine is committing a crime. The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine. You will also never be asked for payment or for your bank details. If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, you should report this directly to Action Fraud. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.
Vaccine Priority for Unwaged Carers (Jan 21)
Carers have been included in the publication of new COVID vaccination advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). To ensure you are recognised as a carer during the ongoing roll out of COVID-19 Vaccinations, it’s vital that you are registered as a carer with your GP. Please note that vaccinations are by invitation only, you will be contacted by your GP when you are eligible to receive one. Visit Carers Manchester website blog for some frequently asked questions about the coronavirus vaccine.
Testing Update (January 22)
The guidance around testing changed in early January. Having a PCR test following a positive lateral flow device test has been temporarily suspended. Due to the current high rate of infection, it’s highly likely a positive LFD result is a true positive.
Anyone in England who receives a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result for COVID-19 is no longer required to book a confirmatory PCR test. You should instead begin self-isolating immediately and report your result on gov.uk. People should only have a follow-up PCR test under certain circumstances: if they wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment, for example.
If you have any of the main symptoms (a new continuous cough; a high temperature; a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell), you can book a PCR test. However, the guidance says: ‘You do not need to take a PCR test if you have already taken an LFD test and the result was positive.’
Find out more in this key document - the Government's Stay at Home guidance, updated on January 11th. There is also this guidance for contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and this article from Manchester Health & Care Commissioning.
Getting Tested (January 22)
There is currently a high demand for Lateral Flow Test kits so please use any kits you have before ordering or collecting more. Kits are available to collect at pharmacies or community collection points if you can’t order them online. Find out more about lateral flow testing and where to get kits (it has a local pharmacy search) in this NHS information.
If you need a PCR test, this government information tells you how to arrange it.
Lateral Flow Tests (December 21)
The Government has recommended that people take lateral flow tests before going to high risk settings, such as shopping centres, events or visiting vulnerable people. Find out how to order lateral flow tests. You might also be able to collect tests from a pharmacy or from a community centre, such as a library, or get a test at a site.
Test & Trace Resources
COVID-19 resources about how the Test and Trace system works have been put together in the city (late July 20). It includes information in British Sign Language, easy read, and languages.
Test & Trace Scams
People are being advised to be wary of scammers pretending to be from the NHS and getting in touch about coronavirus contact tracing. This easy read leaflet about getting tested - produced by partners in the city - also includes information on avoiding scams.
Understanding The Test & Trace System (Update Jan 22)
Here are updated guidelines on Test and Trace and how it works.
Self-isolation update (January 22)
You need to self-isolate if you test positive. The self isolation period is now 5 full days. This can end if you test negative on day 5 and day 6.
Staying At Home Update (January 22)
The majority of people with a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result can be confident they have COVID-19. For most people, it will be a mild illness. The important thing is to stay at home and self-isolate.
The updated Stay at Home guidance says: ‘Your self-isolation period starts immediately from when your symptoms started, or, if you do not have any symptoms, from when your positive LFD or PCR test was taken, whichever test was taken first. Your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days’.
From Monday 17 January, people with COVID-19 in England can end their self-isolation after 5 full days, as long as they test negative on day 5 and day 6. See this guidance.
Check the Stay at Home guidance for further information and to find out what to do if you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19. Here is an infographic using pictures about how to reduce the spread of infection in a household. There is also guidance for contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Self Isolation Support Payments (January 22)
If you have been told by the NHS Test and Trace service to self isolate and are employed and receiving certain benefits or unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of having to stay at home, you may be eligible for a one-off payment of £500. The scheme will end on 31 March 2022. Find out more on Manchester City Council’s website.
Support From The Council (June 21)
This Manchester leaflet - ‘10 ways to do your 10 days’ – gives some suggestions for helping to self-isolate safely. There is also Manchester City Council’s dedicated helpline for residents. It can help with a range of needs, including delivery of food and medication, and managing fuel top-up payments. Call 0800 234 6123 on Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm. A text messaging service has also been set up - text 078600 22876 and your message will be responded to by the next working day. This video in British Sign Language (BSL) tells people about the service and how they can get support. The Council also has a coronavirus information hub. Please don’t be afraid to ask if you need help.
Accessible COVID-19 Videos: The NW Training and Development Team now have over 45 videos in their You Tube library that explain coronavirus restrictions and support for people in a simpler way.
Autism Educator: A social story, including social distancing and not being able to go to the usual places. Read more
Autism Support: NHS North West Boroughs Healthcare Foundation Trust has produced a COVID-19 booklet for autistic adults. There is also some coronavirus guidance from the National Autistic Society – ‘How you can support your autistic friends and neighbours’.
Books Beyond Words: Free, wordless storybooks to support people at this time.
Children's Guide To Coronavirus: Child-friendly guide from the Children's Commissioner.
Coronavirus Videos: This series of helpful videos for people with learning disabilities around coronavirus, includes ‘I Think I Have Coronavirus’, ‘Wearing A Facemask’ and ‘How Shops Are Different Because Of The Coronavirus’. There is also a playlist for carers of people with learning disabilities.
COVID-19 Community Resource Hub - Manchester: Manchester City Council has a resource hub of public health information around coronavirus in languages and alternative formats.
COVID Accessible Information Hub: From This information hub from Breakthrough UK, including information in easy read, BSL and braille.
Easing of Lockdown (April 21): A locally produced leaflet sharing easy read information on Lockdown Easing.
Easy Read Coronavirus Posters: Keep Safe have published a series of easy read posters relating to the pandemic.
Flu jab: Here is a link to the Manchester People First video that has been created with learning disabled people to explain why it is important to get the flu jab for themselves and their carers and support workers. There is also Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership’s easy-read leaflet and poster, and Public Health Englands’ British Sign Language (BSL) and caption video.
Getting NHS Help: Easy-read, May 2020: NHS England has produced easy-read information on getting NHS help during the coronavirus outbreak. It includes information on hospital appointments, medication, getting help from a dentist or optician, and looking after feelings.
Getting Tested: This easy read leaflet about getting tested - produced by partners in the city - also includes information on avoiding scams.
Home Testing In Alternative Formats & Languages: Instructions on how to use a COVID-19 rapid home testing kit in alternative languages can be found at the top right of this gov.uk webpage. Easy Read and large print formats are also available further down. / People with a visual impairment can take a COVID-19 test from the comfort of their own home with the help of Be My Eyes. Find out more here.
Manchester City Council's Community Response Hub: This video in British Sign Language (BSL) tells people about the hub and how they can get support.
Pandemic - A Social Story: A story about coronavirus and pandemics, using large print pictures. Read here.
Signhealth Updates In BSL: Daily coronavirus updates in British Sign Language (BSL) from The Deaf Health Charity Signhealth.
Social Distancing, June 2020: This short video from NWTDT/Pathways Team simplifies the government guidelines on the relaxation of distancing and may be helpful for people with learning disabilities.
STARS autism resources: social stories relating to coronavirus.
Stuck Inside – Free Book To Support Children: Stuck Inside is an illustrated book by Dan and Kathryn Allman about COVID-19.
Talking To Children About Coronavirus: Guidance from One Education.
Test & Trace: COVID-19 resources about how the Test and Trace system works have been put together in the city (late July 20). It includes information in British Sign Language, easy read, and languages.
The World Has Turned Upside Down: A story for autistic children.
Vaccinations: Keep Safe's easy read posters on information about the vaccine. / Some easy read resources from Public Health England about vaccinations. / A film - Information about the covid vaccine: For people with a learning disability and autistic people – has been made in collaboration with Skills for People and Learning Disability England. / Manchester Deaf Centre has worked in collaboration with other deaf organisations to create this video about why it’s important to have the COVID-19 vaccination and how it helps save lives.
Videos In Languages: AskDOC have produced videos with Manchester Health & Care Commissioning (August 20) that share key messages about the importance of social distancing, hand washing, wearing a face covering and getting tested: English https://youtu.be/AMbakfJ1nLY, Urdu https://youtu.be/Mwxj0KKCnUc, Sylheti https://youtu.be/k20GwaAQPqo, Gujarati https://youtu.be/OjI6mU465TI, Arabic https://youtu.be/9HHG8QTU12g.
Women's Voices Video In Urdu: Women’s Voices in Manchester have made a video to explain in Urdu the importance of social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks and contacting the 111 service for advice.
Shielding Update (Updated Dec 21)
Here is the latest government guidance around shielding.
Update on CEV Children (Sept 21)
If you are a parent of a clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) child, you should have received a letter by now advising they no longer need to shield. More information from the Council For Disabled Children.
Government Face-covering Advice & Exemptions - Updated December 2021
Government advice on when to wear a face-covering and exemption cards to print and put on mobile phone. See here.
Please Give Me Space
'Please give me space' is an initiative from the makers of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard scheme. It is designed to support people with non-visible disabilities who find it difficult to socially distance. The emblem signals to others that they need to pay attention and give some space.
Reasonable Adjustments Card (July 20)
As you’re going around the city, here is a downloadable card for SEND families explaining that reasonable adjustments may need to be made. It has been produced by Manchester Parent Carer Forum with the support of Manchester City Council.
Government advice on safer travel, including public transport, taxis and travel abroad.
Long Covid Peer Support Group
The Manchester Long Covid Peer Support Group is for people who would like to talk to others going through a similar experience. The group meets online every Wednesday evening from 6pm. People can call in or join on a tablet or laptop (expenses provided for data if needed). Please text 07702 668169 with your name or email email@example.com at Manchester Health and Care Commissioning.
Your Covid Recovery
Your COVID Recovery is an NHS website to support recovery from the long-term effects of COVID-19. It includes information from rehabilitation experts about how to manage ongoing symptoms and health needs at home, and signposts to sources of support.
Emergency Self-advocacy For Disabled People
The COVID-19 guidelines being used in the UK mean that disabled people may not receive the same access to treatment. The Greater Manchester Coalition for Disabled People has put together some emergency self-advocacy tips (April 20).
Engaging With NHS Services During The Pandemic (March 21)
A new suite of resources for commissioners and providers of care has information in Appendix 1 for people with a learning disability, autistic people and families and carers around engaging with NHS services during the pandemic. It offers advice on how to get in touch with services and gain access to the support you need.
Your Child’s Health During Coronavirus (2020)
Whilst it is extremely important to follow Government advice to stay at home during this period, it can be confusing to know what to do when your child is unwell or injured. There are concerns that families are presenting children late with serious conditions/Covid19 because of anxieties about attending hospitals. See this advice sheet from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Healthier Together.
Emotional & Mental Wellbeing During Covid
This information relates to Covid. For support around general emotional and mental wellbeing, including loss and grief, see the section in our SEND Information Hub.
Adjusting To The New Normal
Gradually, we're able to get back to the people and things we love. It’s okay if you feel worried about this. Even positive change can lead to anxiety, and it can take time to readjust to things we have not done for a while. Here are some top tips from Every Mind Matters and advice from Mind.
Amber’s 7 Tips During The Pandemic
Venture Arts Public Engagement Assistant Amber Okpa-Stother advocates for people with learning disabilities and has written this helpful blog on wellbeing.
Anxiety UK Support
Anxiety UK have Coronanxiety Support and Resources and a Helpline Monday-Friday 03444 775774, 9.30am-5.30pm. They also provide support by text and email, and live chat.
This podcast - Coronavirus and helping children with autism - focuses on practical tips like how to help manage anxiety, maintain structure, and explain the situation to young people.
Coping With Coronavirus
The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Their resources include a guide for young people on coping with coronavirus.
COVID-19 & Autism
Papyrus has some tips for dealing with the impact of the outbreak on the mental wellbeing of young people with Autism.
COVID-19 Long Covid Peer Support Group
The Manchester Long Covid Peer Support Group is for people who would like to talk to others going through a similar experience. The group meets online every Wednesday evening from 6pm. People can call in or join on a tablet or laptop (expenses provided for data if needed). Please text 07702 668169 with your name or email firstname.lastname@example.org at Manchester Health and Care Commissioning.
Ear For You: Helpline For BAME Families
This Greater Manchester Service offers support to any Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) family who are self-isolating, recovering, bereaved, or have family members who need help. See more information on the NESTAC website.
Every Mind Matters
The NHS Every Mind Matters has guidance around low mood and depression, mood-boosters, and helpful suggestions for looking after your mental health, including ‘10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus’.
Greater Manchester Support
For a list of COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing resources in Greater Manchester see here.
Looking After Your Mental Health
The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. They have put together some useful resources on how to look after your mental health during the pandemic. It includes loneliness, acts of kindness, nurturing relationships, and celebrating festivals.
Mental Health Resources Around Return To Education
There are some resources responding to issues and concerns from children and young people about the return to school or college. Primary schools, Secondary schools, Further Education - Each of these includes a SEND video and downloadable resource pack.
One Education Advice About Talking To Children
A guidance sheet from One Education on Talking to Children About Coronavirus.
Talking To Your Child About Coronavirus
Guidance for parents from Young Minds.
Young Minds has suggestions for what to do if young people are anxious about coronavirus and how they can look after their mental health. Madeleine, 19, shares how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected her mental health as an autistic person.
Support From Organisations
COVID-19 Family Support Hub: The Council for Disabled Children COVID-19 Family Support Hub is regularly updated with the latest guidance and advice for families as we move through the pandemic. It includes information around clinically extremely vulnerable children and vaccinations for children and young people.
Resources For BAME Communities: GMCVO has put together a list of resources for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, including information in different languages, support for refugees and religious burials. There is also information in different languages in the Government updates, vaccinations etc section of this webpage.
RNIB: Coronavirus updates from the RNIB, as well as a helpline 0303 123 9999, 8am-8pm weekdays and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
RNID: The RNID has set up a British Sign Language (BSL) Information Service to support Deaf people during the coronavirus outbreak.
Scope: Scope regularly update their COVID-19 information. They have lots of advice around work, money, getting food, medicine and essentials, and cerebral palsy and coronavirus. (Helpful note: When you click on a category, it doesn’t take you to an information page straight away. You get a list of topics that you need to select from.)
Together For Short Lives: The charity has a Coronavirus Q&A, giving answers to the frequently asked questions on their helpline for parents and carers of children and young people with complex health needs.
WellChild – Vital Services & Supplies: WellChild, the charity for children with exceptional health needs, has COVID-19 Information & Resources for Families.
Schools & Home Learning
- Updates from the Government & other organisations
- Home learning resources
- Psychological support
- Back to school (Sept 20)
- The return to school in Manchester - FAQ (Sept 20)
Schools Guidance (Updated Jan 22)
The Department for Education has published updated guidance on actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak.
Special Schools Guidance (Updated Jan 22)
The Department for Education SEND division have updated and refreshed their guidance for special schools and other specialist settings to reflect the changing restrictions.
Ofsted Video - Remote Education (March 21)
Ofsted have published a video about how remote education is working for children and young people with SEND. This video shares findings from interviews with area leaders and providers as part of Ofsted's autumn programme of interim visits. Ofsted hope the video will provide an opportunity to reflect on the provision of remote education for children and young people with SEND and how learning from the pandemic may inform future planning.
Letter To Parents (Jan 21)
A letter to parents from Isobel Booler, Head of Schools Quality Assurance & Stategic SEND, Manchester City Council, about the January 2021 lockdown and school provision for EHCPs.
Remote Learning Guidance (Updated Jan 22)
The government guidance around children who can attend school during lockdown includes children who have difficulty accessing remote learning. Children without devices at home should be classed as vulnerable and offered a place in school if they want it. Please contact your school for more information. Here is the updated guidance (Jan 22) for local authorities, academy trusts and schools on devices and remote education.
School Meals (Updated Oct 21)
Here is rupdated government guidance on free school meals during the coronavirus outbreak.
Guidance For Full Opening: Special Schools & Other Specialist Settings (Updated Jan 22)
What all special schools and other specialist settings will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
What Parents & Carers Need To Know (Updated Jan 22)
Information for parents and carers about schools, nurseries and colleges.
Foundation Years COVID-19 Resource Hub
This resource hub includes all the latest policy announcements, Government guidance, and free resources relating to early years provision during the COVID-19 outbreak.
New Legal Duty On Remote Learning (Sept 20)
In September 2020, a new legal duty was introduced for schools to provide remote learning to pupils who are at home because of COVID-19. Schools are now expected to offer the same lessons as those in class. This does not apply to children who have been kept out of school because of parental choice or post 16 students. Here is the continuity direction about this, along with an explanatory note.
Virtual SEND Tribunals (Updated July 21)
HMCTS guidance on how to join telephone/video hearings.
A-Z of Sensory Learning Activities: Special Education & Inclusive Learning’s A-Z has lots of ideas for sensory activities, like play with foil and material.
Calibre Audio: This is a national charity that provides a free audiobook service for anyone with a disability that makes reading print difficult. The charity has over 3,000 audiobooks specifically for children and young people.
ChatterPack – Free SEND Resources: ChatterPack is a voluntary-run, special educational needs and disabilities hub. See their free speech and language, OT, and many other SEND resources for families and schools.
SEND Technological Resources: Information on SEND technological resources to aid learning at home.
Sensory & Messy Play Activities: Empowering Little Minds has four free weeks of Parent & Teacher Support and Sensory & Play Training guidance, as well as Sensory & Messy Play Activities for children with SEND.
Sensory Dispensary: Free resources created by two SEND teachers, aimed at children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.
Sensory Projects: A bank of FREE resources from Sensory Projects for those looking for activities to do whilst staying home and staying safe.
Skills for Life Manchester: The Skills for Life project supports the development of key life skills for young people and has become a feature of many school’s curriculums across Manchester. The SEND Independent Living Resource is a great way of helping young people to identify and practise areas at home where they may need help. See the library blog for more information and links to useful resources.
Special Needs Jungle Resources: The Special Needs Jungle has SEND resources for learning at home, as well as coronavirus information.
Teach Me Too - Provides on-line learning resources for children with communication delay/special educational needs and have been designed with families in mind. Stage 1 and 2 are being offered for free for any parents/families/professionals. Access to Stage 1 is here. Stage 2 will be launched at the end of January and a Stage 3 is being planned for in the spring. (Jan 21)
Ways to Learn Through Play: This SEN Resources blog has short You Tube videos on different ways to learn through play, like activities with leaves and collecting rain.
Anxiety Based School Avoidance Guidance (July 20)
This guidance document is a tool for parents/carers and schools to talk to children and young people regarding their anxieties and to provide strategies to encourage school attendance. It’s been co-produced by Manchester City Council, One Education Educational Psychology Service, parents, health services, and schools and colleges across the city.
Educational Psychology Support
OneEducation Educational Psychologists offer phone consultations to parents/carers of children and young people with an autism diagnosis from the Bridge, the Winnicott Centre and Carol Kendrick Unit. You can have a problem-solving conversation relating to any aspect of your child's education. This might be issues around learning, behaviour, anxiety and mental health needs. To book this, please send an email with your name and phone number: email@example.com
Parent/Carer Home-school Survival Kit
Advice and tips around home-schooling and taking care of your wellbeing.
Working With Your Child During Lockdown (Feb 21)
Educational psychologists from One Education recently delivered Working With Your Child During Lockdown training to parents and carers in Manchester. Co-produced with Manchester Parent Carer Forum, this free session gave tips about self-preservation, routines, supporting learning, motivation and praise, and managing behavioural challenges. You can see a video and slides on MPCF’s website
Back To School Packs
Staff from Educational Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy, and CAMHS in Manchester have put together some ‘Back To School’ packs. They’ve been written for Manchester's autistic students but will be relevant for many other children and young people and their families. There are packs for: Schools & teachers, Parents, Young people, Younger children.
Mental Health Resources Around Return To Education
There are some new resources responding to issues and concerns from children and young people about the return to school or college. They can be found in the Mental Health pages of Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership’s website and include films around SEND issues, featuring children and young people, giving reassurance about precautions being taken and how the new normal looks.
Returning To School Resource
Alliance for Learning have a free downloadable booklet, ‘Returning to school post COVID-19 – Helpful resources for school and home’. It has lots of useful links in lists, including SEND children, mental wellbeing, bereavement, the return to school – and poems!
Returning To School - Top Tips
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists has produced this sheet of top tips to help your child with the return to school, especially if they find change difficult to handle. It suggests some of the ways they can gain a sense of control over the uncertainties.
Story To Support The Return To School
A story written to help primary aged children explore feelings about returning to school during the coronavirus pandemic.
Digital Stories are short videos showing who the child is, including their strengths and preferences, rather than focusing on their difficulties and challenges. They can help professionals and schools learn about children before they transition in September and also be used to support assessments for EHCPs. The Autism Community Research Network at Southampton [ACoRNS] have created some short videos and resources about this creative way of telling the individual story.
The Big Transitions for Autistic and SEND Pupils After Lockdown - This online course offers practical help, advice and resources to help prepare your autistic and SEND children for the big transitions as lockdown begins to ease. It’s free for a limited period and aimed at parents, teaching staff and senior leaders.
Transport To School (Updated Jan 22)
The Government's guidance on transport to school and other places of education, giving advice on safe travel to educational settings and managing risk.
The following FAQ were prepared with the help of the Public Health team in Manchester to give parents and carers as much information as possible around the return to school.
Here is a letter to parent/carers about the return to school in Manchester from Isobel Booler, Head of schools quality assurance & strategic SEND.
Q. Is it compulsory for my child to attend school from September?
A. Yes; from the start of the next academic year in September, it is compulsory for children of all school years to attend.
EARLY YEARS - Attendance in early years settings is not compulsory, but we hope children will return to their setting or take up their early years offer in September.
FURTHER EDUCATION - All young people aged 16-18 are covered by the Raising of the Participation Age policy, so young people are expected to stay in learning until they are 18. This might be in a school sixth form, a college, an apprenticeship, traineeship or a job with recognised training. If you are concerned that your young person does not have a place in further education or needs help finding employment, please get in touch with the Connect service: email firstname.lastname@example.org or whatsapp 07973 936418.
Q. Will I be fined if my child does not attend school?
A. School attendance will be compulsory again from September, this means that it is parents’/carers’ duty to ensure their child attends regularly. Schools and local authorities have a duty to follow up absence and will once again be able to issue fixed policy notices but we know that some children with SEND may need to transition back to school more gradually. Please speak to the class teacher or SENCO about how they can support you to get your child used to attending school again.
Q. How safe will schools and colleges be?
A. Our schools and settings can provide a well-managed environment, to reduce the risk of infection. Public Health England is clear that if settings do this, the risk of transmission will be lowered. These measures include:
● changes in pick up and drop off arrangements, improved signage and one-way movement systems;
● ensuring pupils and staff do not attend if they or someone in their household has those coronavirus symptoms;
● washing hands more often than usual;
● promoting good hygiene around sneezing/ coughing into tissue, which is then put in a bin;
● cleaning frequently touched surfaces and equipment;
● changes to classroom layout and timetables to reduce contact;
● regular deep-cleaning;
● grouping pupils in a ‘bubble’ designed to help with infection control.
Q. What will a ‘bubble’ look like?
A. This very much depends on the setting your child attends. The main priority is to reduce contact between people as much as possible. This will be achieved through pupils being placed in ‘bubbles’. Some ‘bubbles’ may be as small as 30 whereas in larger primary schools or secondary schools, ‘bubbles’ may be a whole year group. To reduce contact between pupils:
● ‘bubbles’ may have different start and finish times;
● ‘bubbles’ may have break times and lunch times in separate areas of the school;
● school timetables may be adjusted.
Q. How often will pupils wash their hands during the day?
A. Schools will be washing their hands as soon as pupils enter the school, at regular intervals throughout the day and before going home. Staff will help pupils learn these routines and provide lots of prompts and support, if needed.
Q. How safe is it to use bathrooms at school/college?
A. Settings will be taking additional steps to ensure bathrooms are kept clean, including:
● being cleaned at regular times throughout the day;
● being cleaned thoroughly each evening or before school and this will include cleaning specific ‘touch points’ throughout school e.g. door handles, light switches etc.
Q. Will staff be using personal protective equipment (PPE)?
A. Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools is not recommended. PPE will only be used if a child or young person becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus whilst in their school and needs direct personal care until they can return home. Also, those children and young people whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs, will continue to receive their care in the same way.
Q. My child has been shielding – will they have to go back to school/college?
A. The government has advised that children and young people who were shielding are now able to return to education.
A very small number of children and young people with certain medical conditions may be advised by their health professionals that they should continue to have their needs met at home. If you are unsure whether this is the case for your child, please speak to your GP or consultant. Schools and colleges have a duty to provide work and resources for children and young people who are unable to attend for medical reasons and to work with families, and health and social care staff to put in place the provision in the EHCP. Where children and young people are not able to attend their setting because parents are following clinical or public health advice, absence will not be penalised. Please contact your school SENCO if you wish to discuss how school will meet your child’s medical needs.
Q. What would happen if somebody at school developed Covid symptoms during the day?
● If anyone shows symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day, they will be taken to a designated room.
● Staff will wear PPE equipment if necessary to provide support.
● Parents/next of kin will be contacted and the person will be expected to be collected from school immediately and will be advised to follow stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection. They must self-isolate for at least 7 days and should arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus. Other members of their household (including any siblings) should self-isolate for 14 days from when the person showing symptoms first had symptoms.
Q. My child is really anxious about going back to education.
A. Some children and young people will have been attending education last term, but most will have been at home for a long time and may feel anxious about returning. Schools, colleges and settings have done lots to prepare for children and young people coming back. Staff will be able to provide support for children who are anxious, struggle with changes to their routine, have lost some of their skills or have other additional needs.
Educational psychologists and health staff have written some booklets for children young people and parents to help with the return to education. They are called ‘Back to School’ and can be found in the 'School & Home Learning' section of this Local Offer coronavirus webpage.
Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership also have some helpful resources, including short films about returning to school and college. Each link contains relevant information to children and young people with SEND and their parents/carers.
Q. Will my child’s EHCP review still take place?
A. Schools and colleges have been carrying out reviews online or by telephone during the summer term. We expect most reviews will take place in this way in the autumn term as well, to minimise the number of visitors to schools. The local authority EHCP team is working to statutory deadlines for new requests for assessments, reviews and consultations. If you have any concerns about your child’s EHCP please contact the SENCO or Information, Advice and Support Manchester. Telephone: 0161 209 8356 or email: email@example.com
Q. How will my child travel to school?
A. Due to social distancing, the capacity of public transport and school bus services may be reduced. We would encourage alternative means of transport (walk, cycle, car), where possible, to ensure there are places on public transport for those children who have no other options.
SEN transport. The local authority still has a duty to provide free home to school transport for all eligible children of school age. Section 508b of the Education Act allows local authorities to provide this in alternative ways. This can include providing personal travel budgets to pay mileage to parents/carers to take their children to education. If your son or daughter currently receives home to school transport, you will be contacted by school or the Travel Co-ordination Team to discuss the best way of getting your child to school or college safely.
Education Health & Care Plans
Vicky Ford, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, has written to Directors of Children’s Services to confirm that the extended powers given to the SEND Tribunal to hear appeals and make non-binding recommendations about health and social care aspects of education, health and care (EHC) plans – alongside educational elements - will continue. These extended powers were tested under a National Trial which began in April 2018 and ended on 31 August 2021.
Letter To Parents (January 21)
A letter to parents from Isobel Booler, Head of Schools Quality Assurance & Stategic SEND, Manchester City Council, about the January 2021 lockdown and school provision for EHCPs. Also - an open letter to the SEND sector from Minister Ford, January 2021.
Short Breaks Guidance & FAQ
This is archive material that has been left for reference. For current enquiries, see the Short Breaks information page.
A small number of families have children with significant support needs that are usually met through a short breaks provider coming into the home. This might be to help the parent by providing sitting services or personal care for the child/young person. Other families may receive support from a provider to take the child/young person out of the home to access community activities.
During this time, the local authority is advising parents/carers to consider whether it is absolutely necessary to their own and their child’s needs to have a short breaks provider visiting their home.
If this is necessary to keep the child safe and to prevent carer burnout, the Well Child charity has produced some useful advice on how to manage carers coming to the home. The charity also has some advice on keeping children with complex needs safe at this time.
If it is essential for a child’s wellbeing that they continue to be taken out of the home by a befriending service provider, both the child and provider should follow government guidance on handwashing and social distancing. The provider should ensure the child/young person is only out of the house for the one hour a day permitted and is kept away from crowded areas to allow for social distancing. The worker should avoid taking the child on public transport.
If any member of the household or the service provider suspects they have the virus, they should immediately self-isolate and follow all government health guidance.
The local authority is working with short breaks providers to make sure they can stay in business and continue to provide their usual short breaks services to families once the Coronavirus emergency is over.
Overnight short breaks
The vast majority of disabled children are safest staying within their own household. Children and young people who receive a residential overnight short break can continue to do so only if the parent/social worker and provider agree that the child/young person will be safer continuing to receive this than being looked after full time at home.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can we still have the targeted direct payment for a befriender?
Yes you can, however we can also support you to look at other ways this payment could be used. You could use the money to buy equipment for your child to use at home to keep them occupied or help them get some exercise, while you get a break.
Direct payments have been used to fund, a television subscription, equipment such as games, sensory toys, I pads, 3D Virtual stuff, a big tent for the garden / indoors, cookery equipment, indoor mini gym equipment.
These are just some ideas, if you are not sure what you can spend the money on, contact the Specialist Resource team 0161 219 2125 or your social worker.
My child has a specialist short break payment can we still have this payment as my Personal Assistant says s/he is happy to carry on?
Yes, as long as you are following Public Health England guidance.
Sessions may need to take place in the home. Look at the guidance from Well Child charity.
If my Personal Assistant is not happy to continue can I still pay them?
In the first instance, check the if the PA is entitled to government support. The government guidance explains how to access the support available. If the PA is not eligible for government support, contact us via your social worker.
Will my short break service still continue?
This will depend on the service you are receiving. If your service provider is not able to operate at the moment, we can consider a direct payment if it’s appropriate to your family’s needs. For instance, if you normally receive a befriending service to take your child to the gym, we could look at providing a direct payment for play or exercise equipment that your child can use at home.
Can I use my direct payment to pay a member of my family?
If it is not possible for your usual support worker to deliver the service, you may be able to use your direct payment to pay a family member temporarily, (excluding the parent or step-parent of the child). To make this arrangement you will need to contact your social worker or if you don’t have a social worker, the Specialist Resource Team 0161 219 2125.
I have overnight short breaks, will these still continue?
Yes. If you feel you would rather not continue with overnight short breaks or your provider is not able to deliver the service, speak to your social worker.
Should I have a contingency plan for my Short Break support?
Yes, speak to your social worker about creating a contingency plan. We have a template you can use. It’s in the downloads section of the Covid Support Page.