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Hackney SEND Newsletter

Hackney SEND Newsletter

Information for parent-carers of children and young people with support needs and people working in support services

Through the pandemic related restrictions Hackney’s SEND newsletters have been sharing relevant national and local updates and information. Updates and news that may interest parent-carers with children and young people who have support needs have either been is short OR excessive supply.

As restrictions relax we hope that we can make the newsletter content more topic focused, the focus of this SEND newsletter is creativity and communication.

We encourage you to scroll through to see what opportunities or information may be relevant at the moment. .

Hoping we will see each other in real life soon.
Best wishes to you all.
Ella x
Hackney Local Offer Coordinator

Everyone in Hackney can play their part in helping to beat the pandemic

Regular testing alongside the vaccination roll out, and continuing to practice ‘hands, face, space’ will reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep us on track with the roadmap out of lockdown.

As one in three people with Covid-19 don’t display symptoms – meaning they can unwittingly spread the virus – it is now recommended that everyone takes a free, no-symptoms rapid Covid-19 test at least once a week. This is especially important as the borough begins to reopen

If everyone keeps following the rules, and case numbers remain low the next step in the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown to ease further restrictions is set for May 17th. If things are on track people are set to be able to attend indoor leisure activities, such as cinemas, museums and restaurants, and meet in private homes.
• The ‘rule of six’, or two households, will apply for indoor gatherings;
• 2 metres space must still be kept between people who are not in the same household; and
• You should ensure there is good ventilation and that air is well circulated.

There are four conditions for lockdown easing as set out in the Government roadmap:

• Vaccine programme continues to go as planned;
• Evidence shows vaccines are reducing deaths and hospitalisations;
• Infections do not  risk surge in hospital admissions; and
• New variants do not change the risk of lifting restrictions.

Read the roadmap in full at: coronavirus

Have you completed your census yet? 

The census 2021 must be completed by law. The information you provide will help Hackney receive the funds we need to make it a great place to live and will be more vital than ever as we navigate our exit from the EU and as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s still time to avoid getting a fine of up to £1,000.
It’s the most inclusive census yet as you can specify your identity and background on your own terms.

Complete the census here.
If you need help to complete the census call the helpline: 0800 141 2021


Creative inclusive opportunities…

I AM Festival 2021 – 14-18th June

The ‘I Am Festival’ happens once a year. It involves a partnership of creative organisations and Special Needs Schools in London working with their students to showcase their artwork at the Tate Modern. The Theme for 2021 is ‘LOVE’

Sadly the festival cannot happen in person again this year, but it is still going to take place in a different format!
We intend to have a physical display of the letters written and made by Hackney students at some point soon but for now the display will be virtual.

Find out more about the I AM Festival  – A New Direction.

Participation in the festival this year are encouraged from ALL young people in Hackney with SEND to write a letter about what they love and share it with others. You can be as creative as you like with the letter; drawing your interests, writing a poem, decorating your letter etc…
School SENCOs have been sent information so can support activities in settings but parents and carers who wish to support young people to participate are also welcome.

Finished letters can either be scanned, photographed or sent to

Music Treehouse
Music Treehouse started in October 2015 and is supported by Youth Music and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Music Treehouse is the SEND extension of Hackney Music Development Network’s Saturday Programme which offers students with a range of conditions support they may need to participate in the programme. This has broadened inclusion of students who may be overlooked outside of the school environment.

Find out more about HMDT’s Music treehouse Saturday programme here.

Drake Music the leading national organisation working in music, disability and technology.

Drake Music is a national arts charity working across the UK but based in London.
They have been pioneering the use of accessible music technology for over 20 years to enables more people to make music. In that time they have developed lots of imaginative methods of teaching, learning, writing and playing music. Drake Music are specialists in using technology to break down disabling barriers to making music.

You are invited to get inspired by the mazing resources available on their website.

SEND Music Network
The SEND Music Network will be expanding in 2021, so that all professionals who have an interest in SEND and the creative arts can get involved. It will be a space for cross-phase professionals to meet, who are interested in making more inclusive music opportunities for learners with SEND. We will share and discuss ways we can implement support for emotional regulation and social communication through music, and look at creating more performance opportunities and ways of show casing the wonderful talent that is out there from our SEND pupils.
Session 1 – Monday, 4 th October 20221, 4.30 – 6pm
Session 2 – Monday, 24 th January 2022, 4.30 – 6pm
Session 3 – Monday, 9 th May 2022, 4.30 – 6pm

Intoart Spring 2021 – exhibition now available to view online

“Our vision is for people with learning disabilities to be visible, equal and established artists. Intoart’s artistic programme creates opportunities for production, leadership and audience engagement.”

Art Studio
The Art studio is the main focus of Intoart’s activity and a space for making, learning and sharing ideas. The studio programme runs every weekday. Activity ranges from our Art Foundation programme where people experience Intoart for the first time through to artists developing ambitious bodies of artwork to exhibit as solo artists.

Design Studio
The Design studio spans illustration, product and graphic design, print, textiles, ceramics and fashion. Intoart Design develops limited edition prints, distinctive products and crafted items through creative collaborations. Intoart Design has launched collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart and at House of Illustration Fair and London Illustration Fair.

View the handpicked Spring themed works from Intoart’s archives and be inspired to create your own work.

PEER Gallery are currently recruiting call for six new Ambassadors 

PEER is an independent arts organisation based in Hoxton in East London. PEER are currently recruiting for six Ambassadors to join the six-month programme for 17-25 year olds who live or study locally, where they are employed as paid gallery assistants.

PEER Ambassadors are young people aged 16 – 27, living, working or studying in Hackney, who receive paid gallery experience from PEER. They are the face of PEER welcoming visitors from all walks of life into the gallery and introducing them to our exhibitions.

While they provide this support they are able to gain in depth knowledge to the inner workings of a small established arts organisation. Alongside the paid experience, they are offered free cultural learning opportunities; participating in gallery and studio visits, inspiring talks from local young creatives and masterclasses from international experts within the field of public art.

How to apply:
Tell us in 300 words:
1. Why you would like to be a part of the programme
2. What skills you hope to learn
3. What skills you can bring

Please email expressions of interest to: by WED 12 MAY, 6pm.
Please note, you do not need to send a CV and this will not be reviewed as part of your application.
PEER Ambassadors with Nisha Duggal 24 April – 9 May 2021

Artists also need Art Materials 

Atlantis Art Materials – the UK’s Largest Art Materials Store – is a few minutes walk from London Fields.
They stock a wide range of art supplies to browse and buy in store or shop online.
Address: Unit 1 Industrial Centre, Bayford St, London E8 3SE

We want to hear from young people with support needs and disabilities…

Young people discuss their thoughts on life, special educational needs, friendships and more.
Listen to the fantastic young people taking part in this TV project from Mouth That Roars – Our Everyday Lives

Hackney’s Education Youth Inclusion Team
Each Secondary School and Post 16 setting has been invited to nominate at least one Education Youth Inclusion Lead, a young person from their setting who has SEND. We would like the group to be made up of young people aged seven to seventeen who…

  • Identify as having an additional need and/or a disability (this can mean they are on SEN Support or have an EHC Plan)
  • Have an understanding of their needs or diagnosis
  • Are passionate about inclusion and teaching others how to understand their needs
  • Are interested in meeting other young people who have additional needs

If you are interested you / your young person can find out more from their schools SENCO or by contacting

Are you a year 6 pupil moving on from primary to secondary schools in September 2021?  

We are setting up an online forum for young people in year 6 who have Autism.
This is a free opportunity offered to help support young people in year 6 across all Hackney primary schools and settings.
We encourage as many children or young people as possible to take part. Students last year found this a helpful and supportive forum to be a part of.
The forum sessions will take place every week during term time from June to October 2021.

How does taking part in this forum support young people? 
The forum brings young people together with support from teachers in the Inclusion and Specialist Support Team to:

  • Support year 6 pupils with Autism through their transition to secondary school
  • Provide a platform for young people with Autism to share their views and engage with decision making
  • Give young people with Autism the opportunity to connect with children of a similar age outside of their own schools, develop more awareness of their diagnosis and make progress with social communication
  • Issues and themes raised by the young people will be sensitively used to support primary and secondary SENCOs to understand the views, wishes and feelings of pupils in their settings

Find out more about this opportunity from your school SENCO or here on Hackney’s Local Offer.

Get involved with one of the participation groups. Tell us what works and what doesn’t work for you.
By sharing your thoughts and experiences you can help others by letting services understand what needs to change and what we need more of.

Mental Health and Well-being Support

School is Difficult Project
Andy, is a young person that founded Spectrum Gaming, an online community for autistic young people under the age of 18. It launched on the 1st June 2020 as a result of the pandemic and is now an official charity. They now have a community of over 2,000 young people, who have all taken part in their community and events. A common theme in their community is difficulty attending school. A lot of members are out of education, and others really struggle with school-based anxiety. After recognising this shared difficulty their young people wanted to make sure education settings know why education is difficult for them and what can be done to change this.

Together they launched the ‘School is Difficult’ project to gather the views of disabled young people and young people with SEN, parent carers and professionals on the positives and negatives of the education system, with the aim of creating resources and a report with recommendations on what can be done to make the education system work better for more young people. Find out more and take part here. 

Youth Mindfullness – free daily session 
“We believe the practice of mindfulness holds the potential to have a deeply transformative impact on the lives of young people and ultimately lead to a more healthy, happy and compassionate society. Decades of research show that mindfulness is one of the most effective methods for enhancing wellbeing.”

Find audio mindfulness sessions on the Youth Mindfulness website.

Educational Psychology Parent Advice Service 
Hackney Education has a free Educational Psychology Advice Service open to:

• Children and families living in Hackney including those children not yet in school
• Children who are out of school
• Children who live in Hackney and attend school in another borough

The Educational Psychology Service are offering parents who would like support and advice an opportunity to talk about their child/children with an educational psychologist for up to 30 minutes on their dedicated phone line.

This for parents and carers to have a 1:1 opportunity to discuss concerns about their child or young person. EP’s can help talk through concerns about your child, their development, any special educational needs that you may be aware of or any concerns you may have about their home or school experience. They can give you advice about:
• behaviour at home or school
• learning at home or school
• your child’s special educational needs (SEN)
• anxiety, wellbeing and mental health

Contact the EPS Parent Advice Service on: 020 8820 7519
Time: Wednesday afternoons 1pm – 3pm during term time.

If the service is not able to answer when your call to book please leave a message and they will call you back.

Hackney SENDIAGS – Drop in advice session online

Do you need our help?

  • We can advise and support you to:
  • prepare for a school meeting in order to have an effective say in any discussions
  • know what questions to ask when visiting a school
  • make sure that your child’s needs are being met at school, college or nursery
  • think about your contribution to an assessment
  • go through an EHC needs assessment or transfer review (from statement to EHCP)
  • Prepare for an Annual Review and make sure your views are included

How to book an online advice  session? 
Book on to one of our 20 minutes’ drop-in appointments where you can discuss further and receive information, advice and support from one of our advisers.
We continue to give information, advice and guidance over the phone and via email.  For more information please contact us:
Phone: 07500 066 513

Mental Health and Wellbeing – Support in Hackney

Children and Young People’s services

Adult mental health services

The crisis café has a telephone service on the bank holidays on 07393762366
and is open for face to face support by appointment on all other days

Support for the Community by Community

  • Derman mental health and wellbeing for Kurdish and Turkish communities
  • Bikur Cholim mental health and wellbeing support for the Charedi or Orthodox Jewish community

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis: 

  • Contact the 24-hour City & Hackney helpline (020 8432 8020)
  • Text the word ‘SHOUT’ to ‘85258’ to be put in touch with a trained Crisis Volunteer at this 24-hour crisis text service
  • Contact the 24-hour, 365 days a year Samaritans helpline (116 123)


Creative activities and opportunities for families and young people with support needs

May the fourth be with you! Star Wars Day 2021
Hackney Libraries’ Twitter and Facebook pages will celebrate Star Wars with themed activities and links to Star Wars novels that residents can download and read for free. Online. Free. Info: @HackneyLibs and Facebook/ HackneyLibraries

Hackney Libraries Lockdown Poetry Group: Deaf Awareness Week 2021

For Deaf Awareness Week 2021, the Hackney Libraries Lockdown Poetry Group will be discussing poet and Hackney native
Raymond Antrobus MBE. Raymond has been performing poetry as a deaf spoken-word poet since 2007. In 2019 he won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry.
6 May  6-7.30pm. Online. Free. Book to join in.

NDCS: New website for deaf young people

NCDS have redesigned their website for deaf young people.
The Buzz is the only website for deaf young people aged 8 to 18 in the UK. The Buzz is a safe, online space created by deaf young people for deaf young people. Our new features mean that deaf young people now have a platform where they can read inspiring stories, connect with others like them, find the latest information and support, sign up to events, ask questions and get involved.

We are encouraging  families and deaf young people to sign up and get involved.
There are 50,000 deaf young people across the UK, and we want them to know they are not alone and that they can hear from other young people who want to reassure them that you can succeed in whatever you want. There is a lively community waiting to celebrate the good times with you, be there to chat and chill with and share helpful information and experiences.

Watch their animation to find out more here.
Visit The Buzz website here.

Hackney Short Breaks – extended flexibility during COVID update 

“In these current exceptional circumstances we would like to offer families some flexibility to the standard Short Breaks offer, we will be
allowing families the opportunity to purchase equipment that promotes play and creativity so that they are able to continue supporting the
development and stimulation of their child or young person. Based on the recent feedback and concerns of parents and carers, we have reviewed and extended our offer Short Breaks offer during COVID.”

Read the full seventh Covid Short Breaks update on allocations and flexible use (extended until June 2021)

Stay local by strolling around Hackney and viewing the borough’s rich and varied public artworks  

As lockdown restrictions have begun to ease from the previous ‘Stay at Home’ order to ‘minimise travel’, it feels like just the right time to explore Hackney’s vibrant public art scene. Hackney Life has picked out 12 of the best public artworks the borough has to offer:

1. Modern Mosaics
2. Dalston Peace Mural
3. A nod to Alfred Hitchcock
4. Shapes in Hackney Wick
5. I Love Hoxton sculpture
6. STIK’S “Holding Hands”
7. Busk at Hackney Bridge
8. London Fields Flower Sellers
9. Gestures of a Square
10. Hoxton Jugglers
11. Black hands
12. TheMajonziCOVID-19 Bereavement Fund

Find more information about the stories behind each of the works and where to see them in Hackney on page 18 of April’s Hackney Life

Information, advice and support for parent-carers 

Supporting your Child’s SEND learning and development at home
This is a FREE course for parents and carers of children with special needs and disabilities (SEND).
Attending the course will help you to support your child’s SEND learning and development at home.

What will you learn on the course?
On this course you will:

  • learn to support your child in their learning activities, including homework
  • gain insights into how children learn
  • develop knowledge and skills to support learning activities
  • improve your understanding of how behaviour can impact learning
  • build your confidence and ability as a parent and carer by reflecting on your own experiences and those of others

How will the course be delivered?
This five-week course is delivered remotely twice a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) on Zoom.
Enquires for booking onto this course can be sent to:

‘The helpful guide for families with disabled children’

Contact’s Helpful Guide is an essential handbook for families caring for a child with additional needs.
It guides you through what can be a confusing system of support and helps you find the best way to help your child and family.
Packed with useful easy-to-understand information and support it includes links to even more advice on our website. Divided into short manageable sections, it’s a book you can keep and return to again and again. Chapters include:

  • You as a parent carer
  • Common concerns about your child’s health and development
  • Diagnosis and medical information
  • Your rights to practical help
  • Education and learning
  • Teenage years and preparing for adult life
  • Family, friends and relationships
  • Money and financial help
  • Working and childcare
  • Play, leisure and holidays

Order your copy of ‘The helpful guide for families with disabled children’

Contact: survey finds that two-thirds of families want Covid-19 vaccine for their child

Contact’s Covid-19 vaccination survey shows that almost 70% of parents want their disabled children (under 16) to have a vaccine when it has been through trials and is licensed for use by children. And 10% would like it off-licence right now, but only 3 in 200 have been successful in getting the jab for their child so far (read the full survey findings here). Contact has also written a letter to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) asking to prioritise clinically extremely vulnerable children for Covid-19 vaccines when they are licensed for use in children.

If you have questions about the Covid-19 vaccine take a look at Contact’s FAQs on vaccines which also includes information about off-label use of the vaccine.

Working for Carers
FREE Zoom workshops for unpaid carers.
Working for Carers are running a series of Employability Workshops AND a series of Financial Wellbeing Workshops.

  • 5th May 11am – 1pm Confidence building and transferrable skills.
  • 13th May 11am – 1pm CV writing, effective job searching and Interview skills.

These workshops are open to all carers who are 25 years and over and not in any form of  employment.
To register and confirm eligibility please complete the sign up form here.

For queries please contact us:
Phone: 020 8514 6251

Mindful Parenting Group run  by City & Hackney Mental Health Support Team

8-week Mindful Parenting Group is for parents and carers who may be feeling stressed or worried about parenting their children. Mindfulness is an evidence-based approach to stress management. The group is designed to give you the tools to start your own mindfulness practice, while also offering guidance on how to parent your children mindfully.
This Mindful parenting group will be running for 8-weeks starting on the 16th April -4th June from 4-5pm with CAMHS Practitioners Feifei & Emma .

Book to attend the Mindful Parenting Group run by City & Hackney Mental Health Support Team

Consultation – Hackney’s Ordinary Available Offer for pupils with SEND

Our collective vision is for every child and young person with SEND in Hackney to be able to live as full a life as possible in their community by:

  • Achieving their full potential and fulfilling their ambitions.
  • Feeling safe and being protected from harm whilst developing independence and being able to take informed risks.
  • Enjoying and making their own contributions to their local communities and society and being recognised as equal citizens.

To support this vision we work in partnership with families and professionals to:

  • Support individual children and young people with SEND and
  • Ensure equitable access to high quality education and social opportunities.

What are we consulting on?
The Draft version of Hackney’s Ordinarily Available Provision.
This sets out the description of the provision that should be ordinarily available for pupils in education settings in Hackney. These provisions should be made within the existing structure for funding for:

  • Early education settings
  • Schools, academies and free schools
  • Colleges of further education

The descriptions and examples in this document define ordinarily or normally available educational provision for pupils and students who have SEN.
Setting this out formally provides everyone concerned with a shared understanding and set of expectations about provision that should be made for the majority of children and young people with SEND.

Who has produced this information?

This draft has been developed so far by a number of professionals but is not complete without the contribution of:

  • Children and young people with SEND
  • Parents and carers of children and young people with SEND
  • Practitioners who work with children and young people with SEND

What do you need to do next?

Hackney Education is inviting stakeholders to engage, comment and share their views on the development of the ‘ordinary available offer’.

Find the Draft version of Hackney’s Ordinarily Available Provision here (Pdf 751KB) opens in a new window.

This consultation began on 31st March 2021 and closes on 2nd June 2021

Comments and queries should be sent to:

Once we have received views, feedback and comments from a range of stakeholders we will provide an update on the outcome of this consultation.

Children & Families Minister Vicky Ford has published a blog on her visit to special schools

Children & Families Minister Vicky Ford has published a blog on her visit to special schools to hear about the impact of the pandemic on children and families. These visits are an important way for her to understand first-hand the impact of the pandemic on children and families.
Themes raised with Minister Ford reflected on in this blog were:

  • Face-to-face attendance
  • Importance of a broad education recovery
  • Mental health wellbeing and resilience as key to recovery
  • Access to Therapies

Read Minister Vicky Ford’s blog here. 

SCOPE Support – Priority Services Register for extra services from your energy and water suppliers

You can sign up to a Priority Services Register (PRS) to receive extra help from your energy or water supplier. It is free to sign up. You’re eligible if you:

  • are of state pension age
  • are disabled
  • have a long-term medical condition
  • have additional communication needs
  • are in a vulnerable situation
  • have a child under 5 living with you

It gives you access to:

  • information in an accessible format
  • advance notice of planned power cuts or water supply issues
  • identification scheme, password protection and nominee scheme for a family member or carer on your behalf
  • priority support in an emergency
  • help with meter reading

Your utilities lifeline – video about the Priority Register scheme.

SCOPE offer free energy advice to disabled people, helping them to manage their energy needs.
Phone: 0808 801 0828

Covid-19 Community Support

The Council’s Covid phone line is now called Here to Help.
The following key services and support are available:
There is specific support to access food available for those needing to self-isolate or who have significant food needs.

Emergency, urgent or a safeguarding situations or concerns.

Children’s safeguarding – 0208 356 5500 /
For out of hours please call 0208 356 2710

Adult safeguarding – 020 8356 5782 /
If you or someone you know needs help, your first point of contact should be Hackney Adult Social Care’s Front Door- on 020 8356 6262 Information will be collected and passed to the Information and Assessment Team.
For out of hours emergencies (including bank holidays), call 020 8356 2300

Domestic abuse is a crime – You are not alone – We can help.
For emergencies call the police on 999.
Hackney advice for anyone concerned about domestic abuse.
Domestic Abuse Intervention Service (DAIS)

Phone: 020 8356 4458 / 020 8356 4459 / 0800 056 0905 (free from a landline) /
Helpline open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm

SignHealth – Domestic abuse support for deaf people.
Text 88802 with the message 121SIGN, T
ext or WhatsApp/Facetime 07970 350366

COVID Bereavement Support
St Joseph’s offers bereavement support and counselling to Hackney residents, individually or with other family members.
Face-to-face assessment and counselling can be offered in person and on-site in line with national exemptions for bereavement services.
Phone and video contact is also available.
Access to interpreters is available as needed.

Individuals can request a referral from their GP or other professionals
OR Self-refer via St Joseph’s First Contact team on 0300 3030 0400
Also see bereavement support on the Hackney Council website.