X Close

Institute of Education Blog

Home

Expert opinion from academics at the UCL Institute of Education

Menu

Special schools: still open and providing a lifeline for the most vulnerable

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 July 2020

John Vorhaus.

Covid 19 presents extraordinary challenges for schools. Children with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable pupils – and none more so than children whose disabilities are multiple and profound. What makes these children especially vulnerable is that they are often immunocompromised and their complex health needs require constant, close attention and physical contact. I have been speaking with three heads and assistant head teachers about their experience of running special schools in London during the pandemic. Names have been changed to preserve anonymity.

When the news first broke that schools would be closing in March Anita Ward, Diana Clarke and Helen Shapiro each faced a similar problem: Government announcements were principally aimed at mainstream schools, and very little attention was initially given to special schools – schools for severely and profoundly disabled children: how would they be expected to adapt so as ensure that extremely vulnerable children were kept safe and well?

In 2018 10,032 children were identified as having profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), most of whom were boys. Children with PMLD were more likely to be (more…)