Post-lockdown learning for students with SEND

It’s 2pm on a Friday, and Jack is sitting at his desk in his bedroom, calmly getting on with some algebra. At this time of day, he would more commonly be on his way to the inclusion room, having been sent out of his lesson for failing to focus on his work.

Jack says this is not his fault, though. He is autistic and his Year 9 maths classroom is bright and noisy and full of distractions. On Friday afternoons, after football at lunch and a whole-year assembly, his ability to focus is practically non-existent.

Now, though, football has been replaced by a walk in the park with his dog and the assembly is a recorded video. As a result, lack of concentration is much less of an issue.

Many people expected that the long period of school closures owing to the coronavirus pandemic would be challenging for pupils, and particularly difficult for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). But has this been the case in reality?

As Jack’s experience illustrates, learning in lockdown has been beneficial for some pupils with SEND. The time away from school has allowed them to get on with work at their own pace, free from distractions, and has led to improvements in wellbeing for some.

But is Jack’s experience typical of those with SEND? And whether it is or not, what should schools do next, as they prepare to open their doors fully in September?

Umar Toseeb, a lecturer in psychology in education at the University of

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