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How can we best support children with additional needs through the school closures? Expert comment.

On Wednesday 18 March the Education Secretary announced that schools will shut on Friday afternoon and remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.

Professor Geoff Lindsay of CEDAR said: "I welcome this recognition of the special needs of this vulnerable group of pupils.

"It must be appreciated that these youngsters have a range of needs. But in general, disruption of schooling is particularly problematic, in terms of loss of education per se but also loss the security of knowing stability in their lives.

"It will also be helpful for their parents, many of whom are already under great stress because of the challenges their youngsters pose. The government's policy is also important for vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils in general; and because pupils with SEN and their families often have multiple disadvantages and challenges.

"However, we mustn't under-estimate the task facing schools, meeting these youngsters' special needs with reduced staffing and disruptions caused by absence of staff, for example. The task is much more complex than having activities such as the occasional "snow day", which typically developing children may enjoy as an exciting deviation from a routine, rather than an anxiety-provoking disruption."

19 March 2020

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