Local Offer - Coronavirus (Covid-19)

We recognise that children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and their parents/carers are facing numerous challenges because of Coronavirus (Covid-19). To support you at this difficult time, we have developed this webpage to signpost you to telephone and online support that is currently available. We will continually review and update this page.

The DFE have set up a helpline for families in need of specific advice regarding education, the number for this is - 0800 046 8687  

Doncaster Council have set up a Coronavirous (Covid-19) Facebook pageDoncaster Coronavirus Facebook Page

This unprecedented period of change and disruption can be very difficult for many children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Here are some ideas and resources to support children and young people to understand about Coronavirus (Covid-19)

National Deaf Children’s Society have set up a guidance for families’ blog post. If you visit the SignHealth Coronavirous webpage there are daily videos with advice and updates on Coronavirus in British Sign Language (BSL).

If you’re feeling socially isolated, connect to other parents via the National Autistic Society online community or get support through their Parent to Parent service. They have also created a Tips for Families document to support with speaking to children and young people with Autism and online resources available to help you deal with this difficult time.  

Council for Disabled Children have gathered a list of resources and guidance about Coronavirus to share with parent/carer’s, children & young people and practitioners Resources and Guidance

SENDIAS Service:

SENDIAS service is still operating by telephone, email and Facebook Messenger. Tribunal cases are still going ahead as planned, but will be by either telephone or paper based hearing. EHCP annual reviews and assessments are continuing by telephone and email. As a service we will be active in listening to our parents new and old and are now available 8am-8pm on Thursdays every week to be more accessible for families. During this time an officer will be available on Facebook and will answer any incoming calls. 

For further information please visit the Doncaster SENDIAS, call us on 01302 736920 or e-mail us at sendias@doncaster.gov.uk

Doncaster Parents Voice (DPV):

The DPV service is available to support parents socially and emotionally. The service is now operating by telephone, email and Facebook. The DPV will be holding 1:1 chats with their current families but this service is also available to any new families. They will be holding emotional wellbeing telephone sessions. Times and dates will vary so please check their website for further information www.doncasterparentsvoice.co.uk. They are holding both open and closed Facebook chats, please see their page for further details www.facebook.com/parentforumdn. Please watch out for their upcoming virtual peer support drop in sessions, where parents in similar situations can chat to each other.

DPV are holding open Facebook sessions on a Monday from 10.30 – 11.30, virtual YOUR SPACE family fun sessions on Tuesdays 6.00pm – 7.00pm and parents’ virtual Coffee mornings on Thursdays 10.30 – 11.30 as well as counselling for parents and young people

The service will continually update their website and Facebook page.

Activities and Online Learning 

On the Families Information Service website there is a Online Learning and Activities page for all children and young people, please see options below which are specifically for children with special educational needs and disabilities. 

Online Learning 

  • Sensory App House has a range of apps are available for pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) or Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD). All are interactive and many do not require significant coordination abilities.
  • Visuals2go is an all-in-one app created to support people with communication and learning difficulties. For verbal and non-verbal learners.
  • Twinkl Resource Pack home learning resource pack for children with educational needs 
  • Twinkl SEN Literacy worksheets for children and young people 
  • Twinkl SEN Math worksheets for children and young people 
  • Chatterpack provides online resources for development of speech and language 


Service Updates 

Updates from different services in Doncaster and how they are still operating 

Doncaster Child and Adolescent Mental Health 

The CAMHS team can still be contacted between 9am-5pm on 01302 796191. For an out of hours mental health crisis, support is available at your local Emergency Department. You can also contact the Single Point of Access on 01302 566999.

If someone is in immediate danger please call 999.

CAMHS team are also running telephone support sessions for children and young people who are feeling low, anxious, stressed or need help or support in managing their emotions.

These sessions run every Tuesday and Thursday between 10am and 3pm, they can also be contacted on 01302 796191 and are open to all Doncaster children and families

ASCETS Service 

The Autism and Social Communication Education and Training Service (ASCETS) is still offering support for families and schools in regards to routines, anxiety, education, etc.

To reach us please email ASDteam@doncaster.gov.uk with the following details:

  • your name,
  • the name of the child/young person,
  • the school they attend,
  • your telephone number.

Please also provide the team with a brief overview of what you would like to talk about.

A member of the team will contact you on the telephone number you provide within 24 hours of your email, during week days.

Hearing Impairment (HI) Service

For general updates from the team, look at the Support for children with a Hearing Impairment section on the Local Offer

During the COVID 19 crisis, the SEND HI Teachers of the Deaf (ToDs) (Sarah Barton, Laura Sydney, Alison Chippindale, Ben Goddard-Scanlon and Seanne Grant) and Specialist Technicians (Ms Cain and Mrs Leeson) are unable to visit your children; however, we are still available during term time to offer information and support via email and phone.  Over the past two weeks, we have been contacting as many families as possible. In order make future communication easier (especially during these unprecedented times), we will share information via email from time to time that may be helpful.  If you choose not to be contacted, simply email us and we will remove your details from our email list.

 Equipment update:

  1. Batteries and tubing – as the DRI  is very busy now, if you are  down to your last pack, please contact us to request more.
  2. Equipment issues – contact us if your child’s equipment is not working – we will try to troubleshoot.
  3. Damaged moulds – call audiology for advice.
  4. New moulds  – contact DRI (or your audiology department) to inform. Vaseline or lubricant around the mould edges may help to support a good seal on the ear while you wait.

Please persevere: Wearing hearing aids consistently will benefit your child in the long run, even while you are in your lovely, quiet home.

Tips to make life easier for your deaf/HI child:

  1. The National Deaf Children’s Society (ndcs.org.uk) is free to join. If you are not yet a member, we encourage you to make this one change while you are all home. The website has a lot of useful information relevant to children with a hearing loss (some are listed below).
  2. Please remember to turn on the closed captioning/subtitles – it will help older children understand, enable you to turn the volume down a bit, and include everyone fairly.
  3. Some software, for example Google Hangout, is available with automatic translation (the feedback we have from young people is that the reliability of this can vary).
  4. If your child uses a radio aid at school, ask your child’s ToD about using it at home. For many deaf/HI children, radio aids will allow them to continue their learning and to access sound on their computers, tablets or mobiles. It may also help them to keep in touch with family and friends and avoid feelings of isolation.

BSL information:

Clara Allardyce, our Service’s Deaf Instructor, wanted to share two bits of information with anyone who has always wanted the opportunity to study BSL:

  1. Doncaster Deaf Trust has launched a free online Level 1 British Sign Language (BSL) course. The online course, developed thanks to National Lottery Funding, will enable users to learn Level One BSL.  Natalie Pollard is a reputable BSL tutor and is leading a team to deliver this.  To sign up to the free course visit Doncaster Deaf Sign, for further details please click here
  1. BBC have agreed the following time slots (Monday to Friday) to be translated into sign language:

- 07.45 -08.15 – BBC News  (Normal Signed News)
- 13.00 -13.30 – BBC News  (Normal Signed News)
- Around 17.00 – Coronavirus update: PM’s address.  (This have been varied from week to week)
Normally they have weekend slots at: (7.00am-7.30am). During the Coronavirus period this have been changed to cover the PM's Coronavirus daily announcements

Signed News is available on the following channels:
- BBC News HD Channel 107
- BBC News Channel 231

For those who do not have Freeview or Satellite TV.  Here is the link for watching the the News Live online: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/live/bbcnews 

Visual Impairment (VI) Service

During this difficult time, if any parents/carers would like support or advice, please do not hesitate to contact their child's allocated Specialist Teacher.  We are here to help provide resources and advice.


During the COVID 19 Pandemic, the Early Years Inclusion Portage Home Visitors are unable to visit families due to government guidance; however, we are still available to offer information and support to our Portage families via email, phone and Facebook.  Over the past weeks, your allocated Portage Home Visitor will have contacted you to discuss our Portage service offer during this time and next steps.

  • We will continue to support you by telephone on a typical fortnightly basis to discuss your child’s progress. Together we will discuss next steps, activities you can do and we can send you activity plans via email for you to work on in the home.
  • We will continue to provide the Key Working role as much as possible, so please let your Portage Home Visitor know if you need support with anything.
  • If your child is due an SEN Support Plan review during this time, we will contact your child’s professionals where possible and request information from them to inform the plan. We will arrange to telephone you at a convenient time for you to discuss, review the plan and where required agree new learning outcomes for your child.
  • If you wish, it would be amazing if you could send us photos and videos of your child via our secure work email and we can upload these onto your child’s Tapestry Development Journal, to enable us to continue to track your child’s progress. 

Doncaster Family Hubs are sharing lots of ideas for activities and things to do at home with your children Family Hubs and Services, you can also like their Facebook page via your locality by searching ‘Doncaster Family Hubs’.

The dates given to you for our monthly Portage Opportunity Group are all cancelled. We will resume the group at the Seedlings room, Maple Medical Centre as soon as we are safely able to. 

If you require any further support, you can contact your allocated Portage Home Visitor direct or Doncaster Portage team on 01302 862102 Monday to Friday  9am – 5pm

Other useful links:

 Early Years Inclusion Team (EYIT)

During the COVID 19 crisis, the Early Years Inclusion Team (EYIT) including Portage Over the past two weeks, we have been contacting as many early years providers and families as possible. In order make future communication easier (especially during these unprecedented times), we will share information via email from time to time that may be helpful.  

We are working hard to ensure that settings, practitioners and parents have up to date and relevant information and to provide the best support during these difficult and challenging times.

We are offering support through:

  • Facebook (specific to childminders, early years settings and our specialist provision – Seedlings) Giving regular updates on local and national information, answering queries, providing links and signposting to relevant websites and activity/resource ideas etc.
  • Keeping in regular contact via phone calls, messages, emails etc., this contact to childminders, settings and parents ensuring that up to date information is shared, support and advice is given and that needs are met.
  • Following the Local Family Hubs online where you can find advice/support and signposting to different services and information.

Request for Early Years Inclusion Team/EIA/EIA continuation

Requests are continuing to be processed and outcome letters (including any changes in relation to the COVID 19 crisis) are being sent out. 

Continuation of EIA into FS2/Reception

The requests for continuation of EIA into FS2 will now be discussed within the Early years request panel, information with regard to the process and panels dates can be located within the funding guidance.

With regard to the information required within the requests for funding, panel appreciate this may not be possible to evidence fully due to the current COVID 19 crisis. Please complete as much information as possible.

If a child was awarded EIA within FS1, however due to COVID 19 crisis, did not attend their provision for the Summer term, you can still submit a request for continuation of EIA into FS2/Reception.

Continuation of EIA into FS2 (Reception)-1
Download (53KB - DOCX)
20 - 21 Early Years Inclusion Funding Guidance
Download (25KB - DOCX)

If you have any queries please contact:

Mandy Haddock Early years inclusion Officer/Seedlings Manager

01302 862103, 07768325417


Frequently Asked Questions  

Please see below some questions that you may have regarding your child, if you have any questions that are not answered below please email - FIS@doncaster.gov.uk 

I have heard that children and young people with EHCP’s can still go to nursery/school/college. Is that true?

Children and young people with EHC plans are expected to attend education settings where it is determined, following risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment. However, it will still not be possible for all children and young people with plans to attend their education settings in July on a full time basis.  If you want to read the government guidance for yourself here 

If my child has an EHCP do they have to go to school?

No, your child does not have to go to school but your child can attend school if following a risk assessment it is agreed their needs can be safely or more safely met in the educational environment. Most schools are keeping in keep in touch, with families by telephone and many are compiling a list of suggested home learning activities – keep checking your schools website.

If I agree to my child having provision that doesn’t quite match what it says in their EHCP will it stay like that when things get back to normal?

No. The government guidance is clear that parents who consent to changes to, or reductions in, their child’s provision during this outbreak will not be considered to have agreed a permanent change to what their child needs in their EHC plan.

Do I need to provide some education or learning for our children whilst they are off school? 

Most schools will be sending resources home for your children. There are many tips online from experienced home educators, but try not to worry too much. The government has put together some guidance to support you and help you keep your children occupied.

Will annual reviews still need to be carried out? 

The Coronavirus Emergency legislation has given LAs and schools some flexibility on the deadlines for annual reviews. Many schools are trying to continue with EHCP annual reviews by telephone and video conferencing, but the current demand on Health and Social Care services may mean they are unable to respond quickly - therefore; some schools will postpone them to a later date. If you feel there is an urgent need to amend the provision or placement in the child or young person’s EHC plan, speak to the school and Doncaster SEN Team

Special Educational Needs please email: sen@doncaster.gov.uk or call on 01302 737209/737210/737211

I have applied for an EHC needs assessment, will the statutory time frames still apply? 

Please see link below regarding information around EHCP’s as the government has made temporary change in the law regarding Education Health and Care plans during the Coronavirus pandemic. These are temporary changes and will be kept under review. The changes came into effect on 1st May 2020 and are currently due for review on 31st July 2020, which is explained within the document Government Notice EHCP Changes

My child's annual review is due, will it still be going ahead?

Schools are trying to continue with EHCP annual reviews over the phone. Demand on Health and Social Care services may mean input is not immediately available therefore; some schools will postpone them to a later date. However if you are concerned then you need to talk to the SEN team.

I have applied for an EHC needs assessment, will the statutory time frames still apply?

Please see link below regarding information for EHCP’s as the government has made temporary change in the law regarding Education Health and Care plans during the Coronavirus pandemic. These are temporary changes and will be kept under review. The changes came into effect on 1st May 2020 and are currently due for review on 31st July 2020, which is explained within the document Government Notice EHCP Changes

Have there been any changes to the process of appealing? 

When receiving a letter from the Local Authority if you have the right to appeal this will be within your letter. Meditations and First Tier Tribunal are still going ahead and being held virtually.
Courts and tribunals planning and preparation have designed a page which provides advice and guidance for all court and tribunal users during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and will be updated when new advice is available Tribunal Guidance

Is there an update on how long schools will close for? 

Following the government latest announcement they have advised that schools will all be open for September. Please see latest updates on our Information About Schools Page. 

How do I make a routine and structure at home?

Your child’s plan and routine has changed so you might want to make a new one. Even if you are self-isolating, you can create a daily routine and structure. Build in points in the day for exercise, eating and fun activities. The National Autistic Society have created advice to help  you create Visual supports for the  daily routine . Autism Train have also put together several useful resources about creating a routine and using a visual timetable  

How do I make sure that my child's sensory needs are met?

You might want to create a quiet, sensory area in your home, it doesn’t need to be a big area, a corner of the room would do. We understand that this is a tricky time - we are all getting used to this different way of living. Some children and young people might find it really hard to communicate how they are feeling – you know your children best so agree with your child how you will communicate with them this might be via text, pictures, or writing, or at specific times of the day. 

IPSEA has developed a list of FAQs on how the Coronavirus measures will affect children and young people with special educational needs (SEN)  FAQ's COVID-19 SEND

GDA Pathways FAQs

Has the referral to the GDA pathways changed as a result of Covid-19?

No changes.

What happens if school was about to put in a request for a child/young person and now schools are closed?

The requirements for supporting information with the GDA referral remain the same as usual. The fact that a school may be closed does not change or reduce the criteria.

Is there a delay in processing requests?

No delays or changes, processed in usual manner and added to waiting list.

Are appointments with the paediatrician still taking place or on hold?

The only GDA appointments taking place with the Community Paediatricians at present are those that are deemed by the consultants to be urgent. This will include new appointments for children who are under the age of two who have developmental issues, and follow up appointments where children are on long term medication which needs to be reviewed at specified intervals.

Are any new appointment being made at the moment are they on hold?

DBTHFT are currently not undertaking any routine new or follow up GDA appointments, but children will be added to the waiting list if a referral is accepted.

I was about to request school put in a GDA request and now school is closed – what can I do?

Should be processed in the usual manner via School staff.

Helpful Links for Parents, Young People and Children 

Below are a list of different links that offer information about COVID-19, easy reads to help understand COVID-19 and helplines operating to support parents and families. 

Family Fund is still open and available for grants specially at this time of lockdown due to items may have been broken due to frustration -  https://www.familyfund.org.uk/

Information and Advice from Government 

  • GOV.UK have developed guidance for vulnerable children and young people Vulnerable Children and Young People
  • Gov.uk Webpage Supporting disabled people through the coronavirus outbreak - Outlining how the government plans to support disabled people, their carers, and their families during the coronavirus outbreak
  • The government has also produced guidance on how children and young people with SEND can be supported safely as they return to education
  • The government has also set out guidance to support families of children and young people with SEND to continue their education while not in school
  • The DFE has also provided lots of information about changes within education and childcare during COVID-19
  • There have been changes made to some of the procedures that must be followed in relation to school exclusion in relation to exclusions to give greater flexibility to schools, parents and local authorities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: Guidance on secondary schools returning to education
  • Young carers and young adult carers: providing care during coronavirus

Websites with Coronavirous (Covid-19) Updates in regards to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities 

  • Advice was developed by Public Health to help adults with caring responsibilities look after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people, including those with additional needs and disabilities, during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak Advice on Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • This link explains about the Social Care ombudsman complaint process during the Covid-19 lockdown Social Care Ombudsman Complaints
  • Contact have developed a guide developed for parent/carers to gain a better understanding on benefits  Understanding Benefits 
  • The Well Child.org has developed this information regarding children with complex needs to help parents through the Covid-19 period 10 Ways To Keep My Child With Complex Needs Safe  
  • Cerebra is for parent/carers to give advice and support where needed on SEND and will have up to date news on COVID-19  Cerebra COVID-19
  • Scope is giving information and advice but is also offering over the telephone support for parents with children and young people with SEND SCOPE - SEND Support
  • This has different resources and updates to support parent/carers with children and young people with autism Autism COVID-19 Support
  • This link been developed to help families and professionals in different sensory activities Sensory Support
  • Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group - provides the latest information for Doncaster patients and the public with regards to medical needs CCG Website
  • Downs Syndrome Association have produced a Coronavirus information page with lots of useful advice specific to Down syndrome

Easy Reads for Parents, Young People and Children

Helplines for Parents 

  • Cerebra is still operational and able to support families who are living with a child with a brain condition and complex needs Cerebra Helpline
  • Scope gives information, advice and support to parent/carers of SEND children SCOPE Helpline
  • This page answers some of the common questions about benefits that parents with a disabled child might have Benefits and Financial Helpline
  • Green Gables is accessible through the website and through the Doncaster Early Help service. Green Gables service is base in Mexborough. For further information on the support they offer to families please visit their website www.ywcayorkshire.org.uk/doncaster
  • A confidential telephone service, providing emotional support to parents and carers of autistic children and adults Autism Org Helpline
  • CONTACT.ORG is for families with children who have SEND. They offer a free helpline for parents and carers who want to talk through their issues with expert advisers Contact Helpline



Last updated: 17 August 2020 11:21:00