New DfE guidance for Further Education providers

The Department for Education has published revised guidance for Further Education providers. The guidance sets out what further education and skills providers in England need to know so that students of all ages can benefit from their education and training in full. It explains the actions to take to stay as safe as possible in response to the challenges of coronavirus.

There is a section on special educational needs and on Supported Internships. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4 January, placements should now happen remotely wherever possible, but young people can continue to attend covid-secure settings for work placements where the young person, the learning provider and the employer all agree this is necessary.

Students taking part in a supported internship who are unable to attend their work placements due to coronavirus (COVID-19) can claim Access to Work payment for work-related activities where:

  • a job coach leads the activity

  • the activities develop employability skills

Access to Work can be claimed whether those activities are delivered face-to-face or via digital methods. Access to Work is not available to support academic learning activities such as English and maths.

This agreement is in place until the end of January 2021. This remains under review and we are expecting a meeting soon with DWP and DfE to discuss Access to Work funding beyond January.

Supported interns who were not able to meet the core aim of their internship in the 2019 to 2020 academic year and have continued their internship into the 2020 to 2021 academic year can claim up to an additional 39 weeks of Access to Work support.

Local authorities should follow the established ESFA process if students need to remain on roll to complete their supported internship in the new academic year. 

Local authorities will continue to receive their high needs budgets and should continue to pay top-up and other high needs funding so that the employment and payment of staff supporting young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can continue. High needs funding will therefore continue to be paid, whether from local or central government. 

Funding should not be reduced because some or all young people are not in attendance (either because of self-isolation, or where the institution has temporarily closed, or is temporarily only able to staff part time provision due to staff absences). Where you need to make temporary changes to the education and support of young people with education, health and care (EHCP) plans due to staff absence, they should both let the local authority know and keep these changes as short as possible.