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SEND back to school: New study to help ease school return for children with special educational needs

August 11, 2020

A press release:
University of Sussex academics have launched a new study to help schools prepare for the return of children with special educational needs under Covid-19 restrictions in the autumn.
Academics in the University’s Department of Education are surveying parents and carers of children with SEND to find out about their experiences of having children out of school during lockdown and their feelings about returning to school in September.
Responses from the survey will be used to draw up recommendations for schools on how to help ease the transition back into school for pupils with SEND.
Dr Christina Hancock, Lecturer In Primary Education at the University of Sussex, said: “The aim of this research is to better understand the experiences of parents and carers of children with SEND across the Covid-19 pandemic. We are seeking parents and carers recommendations regarding the upcoming academic year so that we can share their viewpoints with schools and special educational needs co-ordinators.”
Parents and carers are being asked to respond to a 20 minute survey on their experiences of their children both in and out of school during the past months of pandemic disrupted schooling.
The results of the research study will be used to produce a report with recommendations to inform teachers about good practice in supporting children with SEND not only for the transition back into school but also for future and ongoing support.
The academics are also making plans for follow-up research later in the autumn term to understand how children adapted to the gradual transition back to school.
Dr Jacqui Shepherd, Lecturer in Education at the University of Sussex, said: “Parents and carers have the opportunity to be involved in a really important piece of research that will inform schools and other SEND-related organisations about the experiences of children with SEND during the Covid crisis and the lessons that we have learned. Parents and carers will have the chance to share their views and have an impact on improving practice for children with SEND which, in turn, could improve the education experience for all.

“Many children with SEND face significant challenges with understanding the Covid restrictions, understanding social distancing and making sense of the complete disruption to routine. Other children will have missed out on regular therapies such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and most families have gone without any respite at all during this time. Returning to school after such a long period of hiatus will be challenging but it can also be used as an opportunity to identify new ways forward for managing and supporting special educational needs in our schools.”

Parents interested in participating in the study can fill out an anonymous, online questionnaire here.

There is also the option for parents to participate by giving their answers over the phone or via an online video link. This can be arranged by contacting or

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