Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: 

“We’re pleased that the Government has listened to the calls of disability organisations and campaigners and acted by scrapping this amendment. We’ve long been warning that it would create a postcode lottery of education, health and social care support provision for children with a learning disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Many families have told us that their child with a learning disability has been struggling without educational, health and social care support during lockdown, and in some cases their child’s support needs have increased. Children with a learning disability and their families are going to need more support than ever to help them recover ahead of the return to school. What we need to see happening now is children’s needs being ​reassessed post-lockdown and their special education needs’ support reinstated and bolstered to reassure ​families that their child will be safe and well supported when they go back to school. No child with a learning disability should be left behind in lockdown.”

Read DfE’s changes to the guidance here: Changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus.


For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson, please contact Mencap’s media team on:

Notes to editors

About Mencap   

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

Visit www.mencap.org.uk.     

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (8am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or email  helpline@mencap.org.uk.         

What is a learning disability?    

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life
  • A learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.