We look at the position for special schools and alternative provision following last night's televised address by Boris Johnson.

Last night's televised address by Boris Johnson confirmed a further national lockdown, requiring all schools and colleges to close (except for vulnerable children and children of key workers) and provide education remotely until the February half term. The Government's National Lockdown: Stay at Home guidance confirms the position. However, neither the guidance nor Boris Johnson's televised address distinguishes between mainstream settings, on the one hand, and special schools and alternative provision (AP) on the other. So what is the position for special schools and AP?

The short answer is that the position is unclear. The televised address and guidance appear to include special schools and AP in the above school closure requirements. However, the first lockdown expressed school closure in similar terms but then required special schools to remain open and advised AP to remain open where it was feasible to do so. Special schools and AP therefore need the Department for Education to clarify the current position as a matter of urgency. In the meantime, special schools and AP should risk-assess each child in consultation with the local authority and parents to identify whether they need to be in school or can safely have their needs met at home. Where neither is possible, the local authority remains under a statutory duty to arrange for their education to be provided by other means.

Originally Published by Wrigleys Solicitors, January 2021

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