Skip to main content

Government support for families with disabled children

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Policy

The effect of the pandemic on children and young people 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, with lockdowns disrupting routines and daily lives. The additional impact of COVID-19 on children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) has been evident. To help mitigate impacts, schools and colleges have remained open for vulnerable children and young people during the recent lockdown. Pupils in England began returning to the classroom on Monday 8 March, in line with the government’s priority to get every pupil back in full-time education.

The new one-off £302 million Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools, will build on the Pupil Premium to further support children and young people who need it most, including those with SEND. The £302 million fund includes £22 million to scale up evidence-based approaches. Specialist settings, including special schools or mainstream schools with a special educational needs base or other support will also receive a higher rate of funding from this premium, recognising their higher running costs. Further details and guidance will follow shortly.

Special schools and alternative provision can also access funding for summer schools and the National Tutoring Programme.

Children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities 

Many children and young people with SEND are provided for by special schools and specialist provision. Specialist provision can include any special educational needs resource base attached to a mainstream school, or outreach support from another setting which can be received at a mainstream school or in addition to attending a special school. This provides invaluable support to children and young people, and further supports their parents, guardians or carers.

The Department for Education (DfE) is providing funding for increased SEND training in schools and colleges. This will offer continuing professional development for the school and college workforce in supporting children and young people with SEND. The aim is to extend the programme and provide training for professionals in all 24,000 schools and colleges in England, including by digital delivery.

Three young girls paint together at a table, one has a visible disability.

The role of education settings in supporting children and young people with SEND

Teachers are best-placed to know how to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. Teachers can ensure that children and young people continue to make progress if they are unable to attend school because of their disability or health condition. Quality, inclusive remote education will be implemented where necessary. The requirement for schools to use their best endeavours to secure the provision needed by individual pupils for their special educational needs remains in place. 

Schools and colleges will continue to work collaboratively with families, making reasonable adjustments as necessary. This will ensure children and young people with SEND can successfully access remote education alongside their peers. You can find support and advice on providing remote education for children and young people with SEND from get help with remote education.

Access to technology for children and young people with SEND, as well as extra teaching capacity or speech and language therapy will be supported by DfE’s further investment of £300 million for tutoring. This builds on the existing £1 billion Covid Catch Up Fund. Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an Education, Health and Care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund, where they meet the fund criteria.

The additional £700 million announced in February can be used by schools for extra support for those with SEND. This is in addition to £1 billion of funding that has already been announced which includes an expansion of the National Tutoring Programme. Of the 33 National Tutoring Programme providers, 26 are able to support students with SEND, with 17 of these also able to support children in special school settings.

In the longer term, the ongoing SEND review is looking at ways to ensure the SEND system is consistent, high quality and integrated across education, health and care. This will further support children and young people with SEND and their families. 

Read more about the education recovery package for children and young people.

A young girl is sitting in her wheelchair, communicating with a teacher who is leaning forward to talk to her.

Further support measures

Projects worth over £42million to help raise educational standards, improve services and provide practical support to disadvantaged families and children with SEND have had their funding extended. These projects will continue to focus on targeted support for individuals, direct support to schools and colleges, participation of parents and young people and quality of family life.

DfE will re-award current contracts and grants which enable schools, colleges, families and local authorities to support thousands of children and young people with SEND. These measures include:

  • extending an advice helpline 
  • increased funding for local parent carer forums
  • support to improve how councils provide local services
  • training for education staff in working with children and young people with specific needs, such as autism

Low-income families with disabled children who have been hit hard by the pandemic will continue to be supported. The multi-million pound package of support includes more than £27 million for the Family Fund. It supports low-income parents raising children with serious illnesses or disabilities with the cost of equipment, goods or services on top of statutory entitlements. This can include items such as washing machines and fridges to sensory and educational equipment that families might not otherwise be able to afford. Find out more about how to apply to the Family Fund.

Join the conversation and follow us on Twitter @DisabilityUnit to keep up-to-date with what we’re doing.

Sharing and comments

Share this page

Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.