How practitioners can work together to help and support children with SEND
Many childcare settings are still unclear as to how to identify and support children with SEND. With the introduction of the new SEN Code of Practice 2014, many changes were introduced, which has caused a variation in settings SEND provision.
From May 2016 Ofsted will now inspect all early years SEND provision. This is to identify if children are fully supported in the time they are in the setting. Data showing their progression with be analysed and it will be the SENCO’S and key person’s responsibility to show and explain the progression the child has made from their starting points. If the child has not made progress, the inspector will be asking questions as to why not. It is recommended that SEND children’s assessment documents, targets, and review meetings are all kept in the SENCO’S folder, this provides an easily accessible place for when Ofsted request to see them.
As there is an increase of children accessing childcare, in particular, two years olds, childcare settings are seeing an increase of children with SEND. The changes made to the new SEN Code of Practice has made it more the responsibility of everyone in the setting to identify and support children with SEND. As it is everyone’s responsibility, this now means that children having SEND are more easily identified and support can be put in place far quicker, e.g. putting targets in place.
Working together to identify and support children with SEND
It is paramount that everyone, including parents, works together to best meet the needs of the individual child. It is the practitioners responsibility to carry out a variety of observations and share these with the setting SENCO. Many practitioners and SENCO’s can sometimes come up against barriers such as to how to approach parents; this should not stop practitioners talking to parents about their concerns. It is important to get parents on board and to help them understand that the child needs some additional support to help them reach their full potential. There may be occasions where parents get anxious and refuse help; it is in the interest of the child that practitioners work closely with these parents to change their decision.
On identifying a child with SEND, both key person and SENCO with parental permission must sit together and set the child achievable targets. It is recommended to relate these targets to areas of specific needs, e.g. communication and language needs, sensory processing, social and emotional and physical developmental needs. By relating targets to children’s specific areas of needs, this will help later on if making a referral to further agencies.
An individual support plan is completed outlining targets; this is regularly reviewed to ensure targets are being met and for new targets to be set. Parents must be involved in this process and sign all documentation. It is the key person’s responsibility to carry out observations as these are fundamental when it comes to reviewing children’s progress.
As previously mentioned it is everyone’s responsibility to identify and support children with SEND, settings should follow a graduate approach; this enables settings to use available resources such as practitioners strengths and skills to help support children where needed. If children are not making significant progress, further agencies should be contacted and provide further support. Settings should again with parental permission use all documentation to make a referral to specific agencies such as SALT, Portage (0-3) IDS ( Pre school age).
Barriers to supporting children with SEND
Many settings are finding that there is very little training for both practitioners and SENCO’s and with the SEN Code of Practice stating that it is the responsibility of everyone in the setting to identify and support SEND children it is now more so important that all practitioners receive SEN training. Identifying children with SEND in early years can also be difficult as practitioners are unsure as what is normal development, what is development delay, and what is a special educational need. Practitioners often ask the question when does it become a special educational need or is it just a developmental delay. It is recommended that settings use resources such as communication and language monitoring tools to see if there is a delay or whether there is a special educational need. Using documentation such as language tracking tools within the setting for all children can help practitioners identify and meet the needs of all children.
The most important thing to remember when identifying and supporting SEND children is ‘everyone working together.’ If everyone has a clear understanding of the child’s need and the level and type of support the require, they are more likely to make significant progress in their learning and development.