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Between Deterioration and Disposability: Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in England

Date:27 APR 2023
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Dr Seamus Byrne and Professor Amel Alghrani

Key words: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) – Covid-19 – Coronavirus Act 2020 – Children’s rights

With the legal framework governing the provision of services for children and young people (CYP) with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), namely the Children and Families (CFA) Act 2014, subject to ongoing scrutiny, review, and reform, this article argues that little real reflection has been given to why the system is so broken in the first instance. In arguing that CYP with SEND were disproportionally adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, this article offers a critical evaluation of the legislative and policy changes enacted pursuant to the Coronavirus Act 2020, and the wider rights-deficient context in which those momentous legal changes were implemented, which enabled the dilution of the legal rights of this already vulnerable cohort of CYP. Dy drawing further on original empirical evidence adduced from an online survey of 234 parents and carers of CYP with SEND, this article further highlights the detrimental de facto impact which Covid-19 exerted on CYP and their families, which was exacerbated by such changes. By drawing together both strands of analysis, this article contends that greater adherence and implementation of the Children and Families Act (CFA) 2014 is needed more than ever to secure the legal entitlements if CYP with SEND. 

This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 2, Vol 35, Year 2023. The final published version of this article will be published and made publicly available here 24 months after its publication date, under a CC-BY-NC licence.

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