This section is for parents or carers who have children with special educational needs (SEN) (sometimes called additional learning needs) and/or who are educated other than at school (EOTAS). Your children may be educated within a special school, a pupil referral unit (PRU), a learning resource centre, mainstream school or in another place outside of school. The use of ‘education provider’ in this section includes all of the above.

Provision for children of critical workers and vulnerable children

While education providers are not open as normal, each local authority will have provision for eligible children. This could be via schools, PRUs or hubs. Some (but not all) children who have a social worker or statement of special educational need may have been allocated a place.

The Welsh Government has further information about this, as well as other information you might find helpful: vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Learning at home

The most important thing you can do for your children is keep them safe and happy. The well-being of your family always comes first. You are not expected to recreate school at home or to be your children’s teacher but there may be ways you can support their learning.

Your children’s education provider or local authority (where your child does not go to an education provider), will be able to support you at this difficult time and it will be helpful to stay in regular contact with them. While you will know your children’s full needs best, your children’s education provider or local authority will be able to support learning that is appropriate to their needs. They will be able to provide you with appropriate activities and tasks suitable for your children to explore and complete or advice on the best way to access help to suit their needs. Your education provider or local authority will be able to advise if your children:

  • have a statement of special educational need – contact the education provider or local authority to find out how they can continue to support you. At this difficult time support systems will not be able to operate as they normally would and a practical, flexible approach is being taken
  • receive additional help – the SEN co-ordinator (SENCo) (sometimes called an additional learning needs co-ordinator – ALNCo) or your children’s key worker can support you with different ideas and types of activities you could do at home
  • receive free school meals – the Welsh Government is providing support on accessing free school meals at this time and you can check arrangements in your local authority here
  • are having difficulties using or accessing electronic devices or with internet connection to participate in online activities – contact your children’s education provider or your local authority, additional support has been provided to support families during this difficult time
  • are anxious about returning to your education provider – speak to your education provider or local authority. They may suggest ideas to help such as talking on a daily basis about relevant topics such as returning to their education provider, moving classes or changing teachers. They may also be able to support children by sharing pictures, so children can see what buildings, rooms and staff will look like
  • are anxious about what this situation may mean for their futures – speak to your education provider or local authority if you need advice and support and reassure them that they will not be disadvantaged by the current situation and that the work they have done and continue to do will be valued. If older children have concerns about grades and how they will be awarded information can be found on the Qualifications Wales website. Careers advice about post-16 options including information about vocational courses can be found at Careers Wales.

There are many ways of learning. Not all learning involves technology or being taught by a teacher. Children can learn through playing, talking, singing and doing everyday practical activities, e.g. cooking, gardening, and cleaning. They may also learn through more ‘formal’ methods such as completing learning activities, including online activities. Here are some suggestions to help support distance learning.

  • Stay connected with teachers or individuals that support your children where possible.
  • Find out what visual supports, such as charts, toys or activities your children use at school to help them know what activities they need to complete and what comes next in the day (now and next chart).
  • Try finding a balance between learning and relaxation, getting a routine that fits your family’s needs.
  • Use a range of activities including on-line experiences such as virtual tours of zoos and museums.
  • Try relaxation and mindfulness activities – talk about what they can see or hear etc.
  • Stay as active as possible and explore the home (and outside space if you have some), play games - if your children have physical difficulties and you need support with how you can keep them moving, seek advice from your children’s education provider and health therapist.
  • Talk about what is going on and about returning to their current or new education provider. Education providers will be able to help support this discussion.
  • Try to help your children manage their behaviour and anxiety.
  • You may also find useful information on the other age group sections.

There is a great deal of information, support and advice available to help you in supporting your children to keep learning.

The following links to resources may be of use to you and your children.  For specific resources and advice that are tailored to the needs of your children, you should contact your education provider or local authority.

For managing your children’s behaviour and anxiety, this document provides information on coronavirus, staying safe, well-being routines, structures and suggested activities:

BBC Bitesize

CAMHS Resources pools together helpful resources from across the internet to support learners’ mental health and emotional well-being.

More activities and support for learning for specific age groups can be accessed here – 3 to 7-year-olds, 7 to 11-year-olds, 11 to 16-year-olds, 16 years and older.

While your children’s education provider or local authority should always be the first point of contact, you may need additional advice or guidance during this time. You might find answers you are looking for by contacting the following.

  • Education - your local council’s education inclusion service.
  • Social care - your children’s key social worker or the local council.
  • Health care services - your children’s health visitor, key health worker or local health board.
  • Mental health and counselling services – if your children are currently receiving counselling through their education provider to help support their mental health, they should be able to continue to access this support. Speak to your education provider or local authority about this.
  • Welsh Government support and guidance.

For support in keeping safe, visit the Keep Wales Safe section of this guidance. Support and advice from advocacy and information helplines are also available:

SNAP Cymru - 0808 801 0608 -information, advice and support for parents, children and young people who have SEN or disabilities.

Contact - 0808 808 3555 - is a national charity that supports the families of children with SEN.

Learning Disabilities Wales

Carers UK 0808 808 7777 (Monday - Friday: 9am – 6pm)

Carers Trust can help you find services in your area

Childline 0800 1111

Meic Cymru – 0808 80 23 456 (8am-12pm daily)

Mind Cymru 0300 123 3393

Live Fear Free 0808 80 10 800 (24/7)

Samaritans 116 123 (24/7)

NSPCC 0808 800 5000 (8am-10pm Monday-Friday / 9am-6pm weekends)

NHS Direct

In an emergency you should always call 999.