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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 two new pages - the SEND Information Hub and Welcome To Manchester Local Offer. You can also sign up to our newsletter by emailing - see recent editions

The Local Offer Team



Education Health & Care Plans


SEND Tribunals - August 21

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.


Annual Reviews

We have asked schools, colleges and settings to make arrangements with families to hold annual reviews of EHCPs by telephone or online if needed, and to ensure that the views of children, young people and their parents or carers are central to these reviews.


SEND Tribunal – Pilot Extension until Aug 2021

In April 2018, the Department for Education began a national trial to extend the powers of the SEND Tribunal to hear appeals and make non-binding decisions about health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care plans. The trial was due to end on 31 August 2020 but has been extended to 31 August 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis. A toolkit with new resources is available here.


Free e-learning: Holistic Outcomes in EHC Plans

This free, self-guided course from the Council for Disabled Children takes all the key elements from their popular live training and repackages it into a series of online modules. Suitable for parent carers and family members.


New Requests & Amendments

The Statutory Assessment Team is continuing to deal with new requests for assessment and amendments of EHCPs. If your child is due to move from nursery to school, from primary to secondary, from school to college, or is making any other kind of transition, be assured that the Statutory Assessment Team is still carrying out consultations with education settings. It also continues to work with heads and SENCOs to make sure settings receive the information they need to be able to provide the right support for your child when they join them. If you have concerns, please contact the team on:


Meeting Your Child's Needs (Summer Term 2020)

For most children and young people, including those people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, it has been safer to stay at home with their families during the current period.

For some children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), parents/carers and schools/colleges have decided that the needs of the child or young person can be best met if they continue to attend their education setting. The local authority has asked educational settings to work with parents/carers, health and care staff to assess whether your child should attend school/college or whether it is still safest having their needs met at home. If you are not happy with the outcome of the assessment please speak to your child's school (and/or social worker) in the first instance. If you need any further support contact Manchester Information, Advice and Support for on 0161 209 8356 or by email


Learning Resources (Summer term 2020)

Schools and colleges have been providing learning and fun resources for children and young people to complete at home. If you do not have access to technology at home, please contact your school or college to ask if they can provide paper-based resources. 


EHCP Funding (Summer term 2020)

There have been some queries from parents about where the money for EHCPs is going. The funding that schools and colleges receive is remaining the same - including the funding for EHCPs. This allows education settings to pay their staff and continue to provide resources and support for all their students. As your son or daughter has an EHCP, the school, local authority and health service may not be able to deliver the exact provision described in the EHCP during this time, but we are required to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to support children and young people with EHCPs. If you feel your child needs more support, please contact the school, college or therapist to discuss. You can also discuss your concerns with the Manchester Information, Advice and Support Service.


EHCPs – Temporary Changes In Law (June 2020)

In this short video, Andy Lomax from Information, Advice & Support Manchester outlines the temporary changes in the law around Education, Health and Care Plans.


Emotional & Mental Wellbeing During Covid


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.


Autism Podcast

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.


Challenging Behaviour – Supporting Your Loved One At Home

An information sheet from the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.


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.


Coping With COVID-19 Isolation

A helpful factsheet about supporting children with a learning disability /ASD, produced by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.


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 Carers Peer Support Group - Dec 20

Manchester Health and Care Commissioning are working together with Gaddum and the Greater Manchester Neurological Alliance (GMNA) to host a weekly COVID-19 Carers Peer Support Group. It’s for unwaged carers in Greater Manchester who are recovering from coronavirus or been affected by it and is an opportunity to come together to share experiences and speak to other carers. Meetings are on Mondays, 12.30-1.30pm. Call/text 07702 668169 or email for a Zoom invitation. Expenses are available to help you join online or by telephone.


COVID-19 Recovery Support Group

The Manchester COVID-19 Recovery 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 at Manchester Health and Care Commissioning.


Easing Of Lockdown

Easing of lockdown is allowing us 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. Feelings of post-lockdown anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the ‘new normal; but it's important to take care of our mental wellbeing in the meantime. Here are some top tips from Every Mind Matters and advice from Mind. 


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 Feelings & Your Body

There is Government advice for parents and carers on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people during the COVID-19 outbreak  It includes an easy-read ‘Looking after your feelings and your body’. 


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.

Primary schools, Secondary schools, Further Education - Each of these includes a SEND video and downloadable resource pack

The resources draw on the views of children and young people from COVID-19 research studies compiled by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.


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. Also Ten Tips From Our Parents Helpline.


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.



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Government Updates, Vaccinations, Testing etc


This section has the following categories:





Manchester In Winter (November 21)

Manchester City Council have a new winter web page, including details of Covid and flu vaccines, help with fuel bills, and more. 


Manchester COVID-19 Helpline (October 21)

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.


Covid Plan For Autumn & Winter

The Government has released its Covid plan for the autumn and winter. It's still important to follow the rules to keep your family and friends safe - Coronavirus: How to stay safe & stop the spread.


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.


Family Support Sheets

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation has produced three information sheets to support families at this time:

Making it happen – Positively managing risk for children and adults with severe learning disabilities: Aimed at family carers, schools, colleges and adult support services, this information sheet sets out what should be taken into account and who should be involved when making decisions about suspending or resuming activities or face to face contact for people with severe learning disabilities.

Education during the pandemic – Return to school Spring 2021:  An information sheet for families of children with severe learning disabilities who have concerns about the plan for all pupils to return to educational settings.

Coronavirus – Restrictions placed on family contact: An information sheet about the continued restrictions around face-to-face contact that care homes or supported living providers are putting in place and the impact on mental health and wellbeing.


Test & Trace Support Payment (March 21)

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





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)

We’re going into flu season. Flu vaccination is especially important this year because:

  • more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill
  • getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses

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.


Vaccinations For Children Aged 12-15 (Sept 21)

Children aged 12-15 are now eligible for one dose of a Pfizer vaccine. The NHS is working with the school immunisation teams to deliver this programme. Invitations for the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech will be sent to parents for consent. More in this BBC article


Vulnerable Children (Sept 21)

Vulnerable children aged 12-15 who are eligible for a COVID vaccine should have received an invitation for their first appointment by now. Contact, the charity for families with disabled children, has lots of useful information on their website if you have not yet received an invitation, as well details on eligibility.


Vaccinations In Manchester (Summer 21) 

If you haven’t yet had your first dose of the COVID vaccine or are due to have your second dose (8 weeks after your first), here are details of the vaccine centres in Manchester and how to get there. Call 119 to book your appointment. There are also pop up clinics across the city if you prefer to drop by without making an appointment.


Booster Jabs (August 21)

The Government has announced plans to offer COVID ‘booster jabs’ for the most vulnerable from September onwards. The aim is to increase protection from COVID-19 ahead of winter and against new variants. It will take place alongside the annual flu vaccination programme. 


Getting Vaccinated (June 21)

The return to some normality from COVID we’ve worked so hard for is currently under threat. The new variant is up to 60% easier to spread and has led to an increase in COVID cases and admissions to hospital. The key thing protecting us in Manchester is the vaccination programme:

  • If you’ve waited for your first dose of the vaccine, now is the time to book immediately to help make sure we don’t go back to more restrictions. All adults can now be vaccinated.  
  • If you’ve had your first dose, it’s now really important that you make sure you have your second dose when booked. Whilst the variant has some resistance to one dose, two doses give a very good level of protection.

You can find a full list of pop-up clinics for first and second doses across the city here.


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. 


Vaccinations Q&A (April 21)

Dr Manisha Kumar, Medical Director of Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, and David Regan, Director of Public Health for Manchester, took part in a live Q&A with the Manchester Evening News. Check out the video or read the transcript to have some common COVID-19 vaccine questions answered.


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.


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.


Second Dose (April 21)

If you or the person you care for are due to have your second dose over the next few weeks, you will be invited by either letter or text message. You should receive this around 10 weeks after you were first vaccinated, inviting you to an appointment at around 11 weeks. Find out more here.


Unpaid Carers & Vaccinations (March 21)

There has been some confusion over the vaccination and unpaid carers. Carers Manchester have produced a Coronavirus Vaccine Special newsletter. Their Contact Point can answer your questions about eligibility, the vaccination booking process, and wider information about being an unpaid carer in Manchester.


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.


Advice On Severe Learning Disabilities & Vaccine

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation has a new information sheet on the COVID-19 vaccine for families of individuals with severe learning disabilities. It can help you decide whether vaccination is appropriate and how to ensure reasonable adjustments are made.


Scam Alert

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.


Vaccination Safety

The COVID-19 vaccine has been through three phases of clinical trials to ensure it meets the highest standards of safety and effectiveness. You can read more here (scroll down).


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). It recommends that carers who are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person (child or adult) who is 'at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable', should be included in Priority list 6 alongside people with underlying health conditions '

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.


Vaccine Programme In Manchester (Jan 21)

Manchester’s vaccination programme started in mid-December, with priority given to residents aged 80 and over, care home staff, and NHS staff who are at higher risk. Local NHS and community workers have been working hard to organise this huge logistical challenge. The city now has seven community vaccination sites across the city in addition to the Greater Manchester mass-vaccination site at the Etihad Tennis Centre.

You will be contacted by your GP or the NHS when it is your turn to be vaccinated. You can read here about what happens at your appointment. Arrangements will be made to get the vaccine to people who find it harder to travel, or who are housebound.

Here is some information in different languages (scroll down the page) about how the community vaccination for COVID-19 is being organised in Manchester.


Who Gets It First (Jan 21)

This easy read sheet outlines the order of priority for the vaccination. Adults who have Down’s syndrome now come under Priority 4 - see the DSA’s 30 Nov article. Unwaged carers have recently been added to Priority 6. If that applies to you, make sure you are registered with your GP as a carer.


Why Vaccination Is Important

Having the vaccine is the best way to protect the most vulnerable people from coronavirus and has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives. It prepares your body to fight off the disease if you are exposed to it. For most people, this stops them getting very unwell. When enough people are vaccinated, we can create herd immunity, which prevents the virus from spreading. Until we have vaccinated the majority of adults, we must all continue to wash our hands regularly, wear a mask or face covering, and maintain social distancing.

Here is some easy read information from Mencap answering some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about COVID-19 vaccination.





Free Rapid Testing (May 21) 

Manchester people are encouraged to take free rapid tests for COVID-19 twice a week, every 3 or 4 days apart. Regular testing is an important part of the easing of restrictions and getting life back to normal. You can go to a local test site, collect home test kits from participating pharmacies and libraries (you get a pack of tests), and order kits online. Find out more here. In this video, Maqsood Ahmad, Chief Executive of the British Muslim Heritage Centre shows how easy it is to pick up free rapid test kits from a pharmacy.


Which Test Is Best? (March 21)

Manchester’s public health chief David Regan gives the lowdown on COVID testing in the city for people with and without symptoms.


Test & Trace Support Payment (March 21)

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.  


Rapid Testing In The City (March 21)

If you live or work in Manchester and are not able to work from home, you can now have rapid testing (lateral flow testing) twice a week. Book a slot at test sites across the city by ringing 0161 947 0770 / 0800 0924020. Slots are available Monday to Saturday and can be arranged to fit work and shift patterns. Remember, even if your test is negative, you must still follow all social distance and other safety measures, and you still need to be tested even if you have had your vaccination. More information on Manchester City Council website.


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.


Testing Centres In The City (Jan 2021)

To help Manchester through COVID-19, more local testing sites will be available this winter. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, book a free test by ringing 119 or visit here. You will be offered a test site based on your postcode and needs. 


Understanding The Test & Trace System (June 2020)

The Government has brought in the Test and Trace system to help ease the national lockdown. Here are the guidelines on test and trace and how it works. As there’s quite a lot of information, this Q&A interview with David Regan, Director of Public Health in Manchester, may make it easier to understand. It’s important to remember that you should still continue to follow social-distancing guidelines and stay at home as much as possible.





Change To Self-isolating Rules (August 21)

Anyone who has been identified as a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19 will no longer have to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated (14 days after their second jab) and not displaying any symptoms. Instead, they will be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible. More here.


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. Includes ‘Good days and bad days in lockdown’ and ‘When someone dies from coronavirus’. Added in July 21, Love In Lockdown - shows that people can lead lives filled with love even in the most extraordinary circumstances and how important vaccine uptake is for getting that long-awaited face-to-face meeting and hug.

Children's Guide To Coronavirus: Child-friendly guide from the Children's Commissioner.

Charlie & The C Monsters: 'Charlie & the C Monsters’ is a short film designed to explain without words how COVID-19 is spread and prevented - bridging language, literacy and impairment barriers. It’s been created by Together! 2012 CIC and is suitable for all ages and abilities.

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, including ‘Talking Together About Coronavirus’ and ‘Supporting The Person You Care For - Anxiety About Coronavirus’.

Covibook: A resource in 18 different languages, explaining Covid 19 to children. Here's the English version

COVID-19 Community Resource Hub - Manchester: Manchester City Council has a resource hub of public health information around coronavirus in languages and alternative formats. This includes information on Staying Safe (hand washing, staying home, face coverings etc), COVID-19 symptoms, the Test and Trace system, and help to get connected online.

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, including If You Get Ill, Getting Tested, Foodbanks, and Coronavirus Vaccinations. There is now information about the vaccine, including lateral flow tests.

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 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. The visual support covers how to order and take the test, as well as packaging and sending the sample. 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 a new illustrated book by Dan and Kathryn Allman about COVID-19. It’s been written and illustrated with children in mind, to help them understand what is going on and why it’s important to stay indoors. The book is available to download as a PDF or as a free eBook.

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 which can be enjoyed by any family. There are worksheets too!

Vaccinations: Some information in different languages (scroll down the page) about how the community vaccination for COVID-19 is being organised in Manchester. / This easy read sheet outlines the order of priority for the vaccination. / Some easy read information from Mencap answering some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about COVID-19 vaccination. / Keep Safe's easy read poster information about the vaccine, including lateral flow tests./ Some easy read resources from Public Health England, including information on the vaccination, what happens after it, and a guide for women who might get pregnant, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. / 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. / This locally-produced easy read poster gives information on what to do after having the COVID-19 vaccination. / 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.

Vaccine Myths: 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.

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, Urdu, Sylheti, Gujarati, Arabic

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.





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. 


Shielding Update (May 21) 

If you or the person you care for are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable and have been shielding, you may be feeling anxious about going outside now lockdown restrictions are lifting. Here is the latest government guidance for those who have been shielding.


Guidance On Shielding (Updated Jan 21)

The Government has updated their COVID-19 guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable. You can see the guidance here, including an easy read version.


Shielding Guidance  (June 20)

Children and adults who are listed as clinically extremely vulnerable are now allowed to go outdoors once a day in your household group. This should be done while maintaining social distance - keeping two metres apart - from others. Here’s some information from the charity Contact.





COVID Vaccine Passport (June 21) 

The Government has updated its advice on how people can demonstrate their vaccination status. This allows you to show others that you’ve had a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine when travelling abroad to some countries or territories. A full course is currently 2 doses of any approved vaccine.


Accessibility On Public Transport (April 21) 

Transport for Greater Manchester has information around accessibility on public transport during the pandemic. This includes the Journey Assist card for people who are exempt from wearing a face covering, which is available on request from the TfGM Customer Services Team.


Travel To Vaccination Sites (April 21)

If you are wondering how to get to the COVID vaccination sites in Manchester, Transport for Greater Manchester have put together some useful information on how to get to each site by bus, tram, car or Ring & Ride.

If you have to travel to a vaccination centre but cannot get there – for example, if the person you care for who is too vulnerable or housebound – we suggest you contact your GP to explain your circumstances and see what alternative arrangements can be made. Manchester's Ring & Ride service is an accessible, low-cost mini bus service for disabled people and older people with walking difficulties. Ring & Ride minibuses are suitable for taking wheelchairs, and all drivers have had special accessibility and disability-awareness training. 





Please Give Me Space

'Please give me space' is a new 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.


Face Coverings Exemptions Toolkit

The Disability Unit and Public Health England developed a new Face Coverings Exemptions Toolkit (August 20). It has some useful visual cards and posters to raise awareness and inform others of an individual’s exemption from using coverings and their rights.


Government Face-covering Advice & Exemptions - Updated December 2020

Government advice on when to wear a face-covering and exemption cards to print and put on mobile phone. See here.


Face-coverings & Travel In Greater Manchester (June 2020)

In line with Government advice, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) expects everyone to wear a face covering when travelling on public transport, unless they are exempt. You have to provide the covering but it can be a simple scarf or bandana.

TfGM has produced a flash card for people exempt from wearing face coverings. The card is available on request from the Customer Services team, which can be contacted by phone 0161 244 1000 (Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm, weekends 8am to 8pm) or through this TfGM website contact form. Your card will be emailed to you as a file which can be printed off or shown as a flash pass on your phone. The cards will also be available in Travelshops across Greater Manchester.

While staff may ask a passenger without a face covering if they are aware that it is compulsory to wear one, they have been advised to accept any valid reason a passenger may give for not wearing one and not to ask for further details. See this letter from TfGM with more information, including a list of exemptions.





COVID-19 Carers Peer Support Group (Dec 20)

Manchester Health and Care Commissioning are working together with Gaddum and the Greater Manchester Neurological Alliance (GMNA) to host a weekly COVID-19 Carers Peer Support Group. It’s for unwaged carers in Greater Manchester who are recovering from coronavirus or been affected by it and is an opportunity to come together to share experiences and speak to other carers. Meetings are on Mondays, 12.30-1.30pm. Call/text 07702 668169 or email for a Zoom invitation. Expenses are available to help you join online or by telephone.


COVID-19 Recovery Support Group (July 2020)

The Manchester COVID-19 Recovery 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 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.





SEND: Old Issues, New Issues, Next Steps (Summer 21) 

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have published their final report from their programme of interim visits to local areas - SEND: Old issues, new issues, next steps. It looks at the history of SEND reforms over the last ten years and the impact that the pandemic has had on children and young people with SEND and their families. There is also a commentary which shares more information about the plans for the new area SEND inspection framework and is summarised in this short video.


Coronavirus Resources & Information

The Council for Disabled Children has created a list of helpful resources and information relating to coronavirus. This information is for parent carers, children and young people and professionals & practitioners in the education, health and social care sector.


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.


Ramadan (April 21)

Ramadan has begun and will last for 30 days with the celebratory days of Eid al-Fitr starting on Wednesday 12th May or Thursday 13th May. It is the holiest month of the year for Muslims, but like many other events and celebrations over the past 12 months, Ramadan will be a very different experience in 2021. Whilst restrictions will be more relaxed compared to 2020, many of the usual practices normally observed will sadly still not be possible this year. Here is some guidance from the Muslim Council of Britain. In this video, Ustadh Nasar Ishfaq, Imam at Manchester's British Muslim Heritage Centre, encourages people who will be observing Ramadan not to delay having their Covid vaccination and explains that having a Covid test will not invalidate the fast.


Your Child’s Health During Coronavirus

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.



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Schools & Home Learning


This section is in the following categories:




Updated Schools Guidance (Sept 21) 

The Department for Education has published updated guidance on actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak. The Council for Disabled Children has more information


Special Schools Guidance (August 21) 

The Department for Education SEND division have updated and refreshed their guidance for special schools and other specialist settings to reflect the changing restrictions.


Minister Ford Blog (April 21)

At the end of April, Children & Families Minister Vicky Ford published a blog on her visit to special schools and the impact of the pandemic on children and families. 


Return to School (Spring 21)

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation has produced an information sheet to support families at this time. Education during the pandemic – Return to school Spring 2021: for families of children with severe learning disabilities who have concerns about the plan for all pupils to return to educational settings.


COVID Recovery Plan Roundtable (March 21)

In this blog, Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of Council for Disabled Children, discusses the recent roundtable she chaired with Minister for Children, Vicky Ford - A Covid Recovery Plan and the SEND Review.


Return To School (March 21)

On Monday 22nd February, the Government announced that all pupils will return to school on Monday 8th March. The Council for Disabled Children has information around this and will update the page as they receive further information.


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. 


Open Letters From Government Minister  (Latest - 14th Jan)

During the coronavirus crisis, MP Vicky Ford, the Minister for the Department of Education / Department of Health & Social Care has written several open letters to all children and young people with SEND, their families, and those that support them:

4th Jan 2021 - Letter about the 3rd national lockdown

9th November - Advice and guidance during the 2nd national lockdown

2nd September - Letter about the return to school

21st July - Letter about the return to school

May 30th - Explaining how the wider opening of schools and other educational settings may affect families.


Remote Learning Guidance (Jan 21)

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 recently updated guidance (January 12th 2021) for local authorities, academy trusts and schools on devices and remote education.

See our Grants & Funding page for information on organisations that provide or offer grants for educational resources. This includes Manchester's Mynshull’s Educational Foundation and the Free Computer In Every Home programme.


School Meals (Jan 21)

Here is recently updated government guidance (January 13th 2021) on free school meals during the coronavirus outbreak.


Guidance For Full Opening: Special Schools & Other Specialist Settings (Updated 31 Dec 20)

What all special schools and other specialist settings will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


What Parents & Carers Need To Know (Jan 21)

Information for parents and carers about going back to schools, nurseries and colleges in January 2021.


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.


Get Help With Remote Education (Dec 20)

Guidance, resources and support for teachers and school leaders on educating pupils and students during coronavirus (COVID-19).


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.


Ofsted Interim Visits (Autumn 20)

As part of Ofsted’s phased return to routine inspection, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are carrying out a series of interim visits to local areas from autumn 2020 regarding special educational needs and disabilities arrangements. This guidance sets out the process and range of activities that inspectors will carry out for these visits.


Elective Home Education Advice (Oct 20)

The Department for Education has published advice for parents considering Elective Home Education (EHE). It highlights the implications of withdrawing children and young people from school and the challenges involved. It makes clear the distinction between home-schooling during the pandemic and where parents choose not to send their child to school full-time on a long-term basis.


Ministerial SEND Roundtable (Sept 20)

On 15 September, key stakeholders of the SEND sector attended the SEND Joint Ministerial Roundtable to give evidence and share views on how children, young people and families and the organisations that work with them have operated during the pandemic. Read about it here.


Ofsted Announcement (Aug 20)

Ofsted has announced that visits to local areas in autumn will focus on offering support to strengthen Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) systems as England begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.


Education Updates (July 20)

Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) have been commissioned by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care to support local areas to improve their SEND systems. Read more here.

In early July, the Department for Education published detailed guidance to support schools and colleges to fully reopen in September 2020 and early years and childcare providers from 20 July. See more here.


Council for Disabled Children FAQ
During the Pandemic, the Council for Disabled Children received questions from parents and carers and shared them with the Department for Education (DfE) and colleagues with specialist knowledge. You can find all of them here

The CDC also has extensive resources for families, including Government Guidance and learning resources to support home schooling.


Virtual SEND Tribunals

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, including Key Stage 1-4, GCSE and A-Level texts to assist with studies. 

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.

Healthy Schools Manchester: Primary and secondary health and wellbeing challenges, like 'Draw Yourself Sunshine' and 'Happy Place'.

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)

Two resources for families at home from 3PP Psychologies 10 More Activities For Home, Even more activities to do at home

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. Read more in this Manchester City Council information on SEN support in mainstream schools.


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: 


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.


Beyond Words - Two New Stories

Beyond Word have two free wordless stories to support all primary school children - mainstream and SEND - in returning to school. Lenny and Lily in Lockdown’ and ‘Lenny and Lily Return to School’ . Beyond Words have other free downloadable resources, including Beating the Virus and Having a Test for Coronavirus.


CDC Resources

The Council for Disabled Children has a series of resources - ‘Responding to Covid 19 - Innovation and best practice in the education, health and care sector during the pandemic’. This shares learning and good practice on how children’s health, care and education services have adapted and innovated in response to Covid-19 whilst continuing to provide high levels of care for children with SEND. The CDC has also collated a list of back to school resources that you may find useful.


Down’s Syndrome Association

Guidance around planning for your child’s return to school.


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.

Primary schools, Secondary schools, Further Education - Each of these includes a SEND video and downloadable resource pack

The resources draw on the views of children and young people from COVID-19 research studies compiled by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.


National Autistic Society Resources

The National Autistic Society has guidance for parents on the return to school.


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.


Risk of Infection

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the return to school and the risk of infection – This information from Manchester City Council has been prepared with the help of the city’s Public Health team – EnglishChinesePunjabiUrduBangla.


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.


Supporting Transition

Guidance on supporting autistic young people to transition to secondary school remotely.

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.

My Family Our Needs has launched The Transition Event Hub. It brings together experts to talk about the different transition topics and aims to answer your questions and arm you with the most up-to-date information so you can best support disabled young people and safeguard their future. If you have a question for one of their speakers, you can fill in the 'Ask our speakers' form and they will get it answered for you as soon as possible. 


Transport To School

 The Government has published new guidance on transport to school and other places of education, giving advice on safe travel to educational settings and managing risk.


Welcome Back From CDC

The Council for Disabled Children has been looking at the questions that schools, colleges and parents have been raising about returning to school safely.  As part of this, they surveyed Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support (SENDIAS) services to get a feel for concerns, challenges and solutions. See this Welcome Back To School from Dame Christine Lenehan, CDC Director.





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.

Further information is also available on the government Coronavirus website for parents/carers about what changes and measures to expect in schools in September and for parents/carers with children in a specialist setting.


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 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.

A safe return to learning – primary schools

A safe return to learning – secondary schools

A safe return to learning – further education


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:


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.



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Short Breaks Guidance & FAQ


During the coronavirus crisis:

  • Short Break Reviews can be done over the phone
  • Families just need to call 0161 219 2125 during the dedicated Drop In times
  • The SRT worker will call them back if they prefer

 See more on 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.




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.


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Support From Manchester Council


Manchester City Council has a coronavirus information hub, with regular updates. This includes advice around benefits.

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, you are not alone. This Helping Hands Pocket Guide signposts you to organisations that can offer support around money and work. Find out more on the Council’s website


Support From Organisations


Complex Care In Lockdown: Simple Stuff Works have Complex Care in Lockdown You Tube videos, including Keeping Active, Simple Positioning, and Supported Lying.


Council for Disabled Children: The Council for Disabled Children has pulled together extensive resources for families. There’s Government Guidance, learning resources to support home schooling and the results of the CDC’s FAQs shared with the Department for Education (DfE).


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. They can also be contacted by phone 0808 808 0123, email, text 0780 000 0360, Relay UK 18001 then 0808 808 0123, textphone 0808 808 9000 and live chat on the website. They offer free, confidential information and support on all topics relating to hearing loss or deafness, Monday to Friday, 9-5pm.


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. They also have a COVID-19 Direct Response Service to assist where families are suffering financial hardship in accessing vital supplies. Families can self-refer or be referred, using the form on the website.