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Working with Children with Disabilities and Special Educational Needs and their Families in a Pre-School Setting

By alisonjanebrown Oct 14, 2014 4899 Words
Option Unit 2 – Working with Children with Disabilities and Special Educational Needs and their Families in a Pre-School Setting

E1 – Describe how pre-school settings can create an inclusive culture for children with disabilities and special educational needs

Creating an inclusive culture in the pre-school is essential for the wellbeing of all who are visiting, working or using the setting to feel welcome and at ease. The setting must be able to adapt and meet the needs of all children to ensure inclusion, to meet our legal duties to actively promote equality so that all children have equal access to our service. “Providers have a responsibility to ensure positive attitudes to diversity and difference – not only so that every child is included and not disadvantaged, but also so that they learn from the earliest age to value diversity in others and grow up making a positive contribution to society” (Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework Section 1.14 DCSF May 2008).

It is important to recognise and understand the types of attitudes and behaviours that individuals may hold which may lead to unequal treatment or discrimination. Staff and volunteers should be respectful and welcoming to all families and take time to develop positive, non-judgemental relationships to support individual needs. Settings should Identify any potential barriers that exist which might prevent children from attending or making full use of the service and how to remove them. Barriers may be attitudinal, environmental or institutional.

Relationships with parents, staff and other professionals should be developed so they can work together with ease consistency, share information and understand the systems in place to support children who may require additional support through Early Years Action, Early Years Action Plus, Statutory Assessments or the Common Assessment Framework. Professionals and organisations may provide training and guidance on how to work with children.

The setting should develop clear policies which outline the attitudes, methods and actions to take to ensure inclusion in all aspects of practice. The setting should also have a SENCO and an ENCO (Equality Named Co-ordinator) who work to ensure all children and families feel supported as well as coordinating the staff team so there is a shared involvement to ensure the policy is effective. The SENCO will also work to produce and implement individual education plans (IEP’s) to support children’s needs and maintain accurate records.

An access audit should be conducted regularly, identifying barriers for disabled users, visitors and staff members. Where barriers exist reasonable adjustments should be made to ensure there is physical access. Settings should become familiar with accessible resources they can obtain either free of charge or purchase specialist equipment. Planning should be reflective of the needs of all children, with clear differentiation and resources which reflect diversity so all children feel represented and valued. The staff should use reflective practice to consider whether they are meeting the needs of children and should be able to access training and development opportunities to support them in their role. (399 words)

E2 – Describe the role of the SENCO in making the pre-school setting inclusive

The SENCO role requires a practitioner to possess many skills and qualities, including the ability to work with children, parents, staff and other professionals to ensure the inclusion for children with special educational needs. A SENCO should possess a good understanding the SEN Code of Practice 2001 and equality legislation, as well as hold information on government programmes and initiatives to achieve co-ordinated services for young disabled children and their families, including Early Support. “It is important to identify the need for additional support as early as possible. Without it children will not get the help they need at the right time, in the way that is right for them” Early Years Foundation Stage: 1.2 Inclusive Practice

The SENCO should lead, motivate and inform other members of staff in the setting and work alongside them to devise strategies to support a child in the setting who is identified as having special educational needs. They may not necessarily work with individual children but will work with the child’s key worker, colleagues and parents to draw up and implement Individual Education Plans where a child needs additional support from that which is normally provided in the setting. Therefore, being able to provide colleagues with practical guidance, support and advice to supporting them and the children they are working with is essential. They should organise relevant training and cascade information to staff and ensure that staff feel supported and valued in their work.

Good communication and liaison skills are vital to this role. The SENCO must be able to work with parents, children and other professionals such as SEN advisors, social workers, health visitors and specialists, such as speech therapists. The SENCO will liaise closely with parents to keep them fully informed and able to share in discussions about their child’s progress and be involved in decision making about the care their child receives.

It is important that the SENCO has a good level of administrative and organisational skills to be effective in the role. They should ensure that relevant background information about children with special educational needs is collected, recorded and updated and stored safely. The SENCO will assess children using observations and discussions with colleagues, children, parents and other professionals and monitor progress and identify next step targets. The SENCO may be required to attend meetings with other professionals and write reports. (296 words).

E3 – Discuss why early recognition of developmental delay and impairment is important

Early recognition of children who may have a development delay or impairment is vital if they are to thrive. A child whose needs have not been noticed may not be able to access the curriculum fully and is therefore experiencing discrimination. They may not be able to play alongside other children and may not learn through play, make friends or feel they belong to the setting. Early recognition is aimed at reducing the effects of a child’s condition on their development and education. Without early recognition and intervention the child may be likely to miss out during the short period of time when the opportunity to develop and learn is at its greatest, which may widen the achievement gap for the child compared to his peers.

“...too many children are still falling through the net and starting school without the necessary skills or behaviours for more formal learning (particularly in speech, language and communication) because of a failure to spot or address a developmental problem.” Paragraph 1.6 of the SEN and Disability Green Paper 20 December 2012

Children who have additional needs are more vulnerable to developing low self- esteem, which can affect their view of themselves and may result in them being unwilling to take on new challenges or may affect their behaviour with adults or their peers. It is important to note that one area of development can impact on overall development, for example a child who is not hearing properly may find it difficult to concentrate. Early recognition and support is also important for a child’s family. The additional stress which can be caused by having a child with special educational needs often affects the whole family’s wellbeing. Early intervention often leads to parents changing their attitude towards their child and becoming better able to deal with their child’s needs and behaviour.  It also means that as the child develops and his or her special needs become less pronounced the family should have more time for leisure activities and also more time to spend with the other children. Identifying children’s support needs early helps to enable helps the setting, together with parents and other professionals to put the right approach in place quickly. The child’s needs may be met through differentiated planning and support from the key person. However if the child requires further support from professionals early recognition allows time for the referral system to occur before the child starts school, so that there is are structures in place to support the child.

The SEN Code of practice 2001 stresses the importance of identifying as early as possible children who require extra support in their learning. The SEN Code of practice 2011 states that, “the earlier action is taken, the more responsive the child is likely to be,” (P46 SEN Code of practice 2001, DFES ) (397 words)

E4 – Discuss how to use observation and assessment to plan for the learning and developmental needs of individual children

Recording assessment and observations of children is vital in order to make an informed decision about whether the child’s development is a concern. Observations should be taken over a substantial period of time, at different times of the day, seeing the child in a range of contexts, interacting with peers, adults, materials and the environment. A variety of observation methods should be used, for example target child or event sampling which may show how often a child interacts with other children and how often a child shows negative behaviour. Observations should aim to record as much information as possible, including what the child is doing, and how they are doing it, in what situations and conditions. In making observations it is also important to maintain a holistic view of the child and observe all areas of the child’s development rather than focusing on one or two, noting the child’s strengths, capacities and interests as well as looking at potential areas of need.

Information gained from observations need to be shared and analysed with the key person, other colleagues and used to plan next steps and inform curriculum planning to meet the child’s needs. Consideration should be given as to whether the setting is limiting the child’s participation, for example if equipment and activities are not fully accessible to the child. The setting should remove any barriers, for example providing equipment and ensure that the curriculum is fully differentiated. If observations show that there is a development need, the practitioner should share information with parents and the setting SENCO.

If observations conclude that the child is making little or no progress an Individual Education Plan should be drawn up in consultation with the setting SENCO and key person, parents and the child. This action plan will show how the setting will support the child’s development and help to measure the success of strategies that have been put into place. This will allow the child’s development to be carefully and regularly monitored against clear outcomes detailed in the plan. This stage is known as Early Years Action. Further support may involve Early Years Action Plus using specialist professionals, for example a speech therapist or may involve the local education authority to obtain a statement of special educational need for the child.

E5 – Discuss the importance of the partnership between the pre-school setting and the parents of children with disabilities and special educational needs

E6 – Describe how the pre-school setting can work with parents to progress the learning and development of children with disabilities and special educational needs

A fundamental principal of The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001 is that “Parents have a vital role to play in supporting their child’s education”. This strengthens parents’ involvement and rights in relation to their child’s education. Therefore, it is essential to have an effective working relationship with parents in order to provide the best possible care for the child. This partnership will be mutually beneficial for the parent and the setting which will enabling the sharing of information about the child to meet needs and interests and by gaining parents cooperation and support.

“Parents hold key information and have a critical role to play in their children’s education. They have unique strengths, knowledge and experience to contribute to the shared view of a child’s needs and best ways of supporting them. It is therefore essential that all professionals (schools, LEA’s and other agencies) actively seek to work with parents and value the contributions they make.” Para 2.2 SEN Code of Practice 2001.

Meetings should be planned in advance to discuss concerns about a child’s development and a practitioner may need to show empathy and sensitivity towards the parent when discussing their child and any concerns about their progress and development. The practitioner should identify ways that the child can be supported in the setting, instead of focusing on what the child can or cannot achieve. It is also important that parents receive feedback on their child which is positive and contains information on the child’s strengths and achievements. This will reassure parents that their child is welcome and that the setting is not focused on the negative aspects of the child’s development. This approach will help the parent to accept support and information from practitioners on how to work together to support their child’s learning at home and in the setting, including agreeing implementing and reviewing Individual Educational Plans. Parents should feel confident that the setting has staff with the experience, training and skills required to meet their child’s needs and that they are at the centre of discussions and decision making about their child.

The setting should provide parents with information about procedures and the way the setting works to support them and their child. Information should be provided on the role of the SENCO and other key people which may support the child, such as the Area SENCO and Early Support. Parents should receive information and guidance on relevant law, policy and recommended practices, e.g. Equality Act and Common Assessment Framework. Contact details of organisations which can provide support services to children and families should be given, including Children Centres, Parent Partnership Services and general information on benefits available for disabled children and tax credits.

Parents should feel reassured that their child’s records are open to them and they receive information on how the child’s profile will be built, receive feedback on progress and how they can contribute towards their child’s development. Parents can be encouraged to carry out observations on children outside of the setting, which may be used within the child’s profile. The setting and parents can also use a home/setting diary to note significant events and successful strategies Parents may like to build on an activity at home which children has enjoyed and share resources toys and equipment to meet the child’s interests or needs.

It is important to respect parent’s views and individuality. Their opinions and feelings can contribute towards the welfare and development of the child and the setting. A trusting relationship between the practitioner and the child will develop if a practitioner shows they like and respect his/her parents. A parent can provide important information about their child development at home and about strategies and resources use to support their child as well as contact with other professionals involved with their child. It is important to listen carefully to parents and create an environment where concerns can be discussed with ease. (582 words)

E7 – Identify the roles of professionals and agencies who may be involved with children with disabilities and special educational needs and their families

The setting should keep information on services, agencies and professionals who are available to support children within their local authority area. This information should be available to practitioners and parents.

Social Services Have a duty to provide services for “Children in Need”. Children with complex needs may have a social worker. Regular assessments will be conducted to see how the LEA can support the child and family. Special Educational Needs Advisory teams (Area SENCO) Advisors will support the setting in a variety of ways, including guidance, training and help with drawing up IEP’s for individual children as well as advising on planning and layout. Educational Psychologist Service Educational Pyschologists assess and identify children’s learning and developmental needs and provide guidance to parents and professionals involved with the child. They are also involved when a statutory assessment of special educational need is required. Speech and language therapist Children who have hearing impairments, stammers and language delay can access this service. Therapists assess, diagnose and devise a programme to help children’s communication and speech. Speech therapists can provide support to early settings and parents as well as the child. Physiotherapists. Children may need the services of a physiotherapist if they have sustained an injury or have a physical impairment or medical condition such as cystic fibrosis. As well as treating children, they can provide advice and guidance to parents and settings about exercises to help the child. Paediatric Occupational Therapy Service Work with children who have physical impairments, perceptual disorders or problems with hand-eye coordination to enable their independence. Guidance for settings on making the environment accessible for the child and specialists equipment and resources may be loaned. Health Visitor Specialise in health promotion and work to support families in their community who have children aged 5 and under. Health visitors carry out routine health checks and provide support about child development. They can refer children to other services, e.g. speech therapist. Sensory Impairment Teams Support Children who have a visual or hearing impairment. Specialists work directly with the child and parents . They will visit a setting to provide advice on how to meet a child’s needs. Children’s centres Help and advice for parents, carers and children is available from a range of professionals on child and family health, parenting, money, training and employment. Centres may provide baby clinics, nurseries, after school clubs and parenting groups. Parent Partnership Service Independent advice and support is available to parents of children with special educational needs . Training and support may be available to settings on working with children with SEN. Support Groups and Voluntary Organisations/Charities Can provide specialist advice, support and training and may be able to provide specialist equipment and resources. (449 words)

E8 – Discuss how practitioners in the pre-school setting can work in partnership with other professionals to progress the learning and development of children with disabilities and special educational needs

Practitioners should judge when they are able to provide support for children and families themselves and know the possible sources of support available from professionals for children and staff, within and beyond their setting and how to access this. This will enable practitioners to know where go to seek their advice and build on their knowledge through guidance and training.

The pre-school should have a clear procedure within the SEN policy which identifies who is responsible for liaising with other professionals outside of the setting and may include speech and language therapists, social services, professionals who work with children who have English as an additional language, and educational psychologists. It is important each practitioner brings with them their own specialist skills, expertise and insight so that the child, young person and family gets the best support possible.

They will meet with them in order to receive feedback on their work with children and suggestions for how to continue the programmes between their visits. It is important to present information in a format that has been agreed and where action points have been carried out by individuals within agreed time-scales.

Early Years Practitioners and other Professionals may have different perspectives to but should recognise and respect each other’s contribution and be able to communicate effectively and agree strategies to work together. This is important so that the child’s best interest are met as well as avoiding conflict.

Confidentiality is of great importance when working with other professionals and agencies. There may be discussions of a sensitive and confidential nature disclosed by other professionals and the practitioner must ensure that these discussions are not repeated outside of private discussions or meetings. Similarly documents that are shared which are of a sensitive nature should be kept securely in the setting.

If a child is receiving support from Early Years Action Plus then progress the child is making must be monitored, recorded and shared with all involved with the child. It is also helpful if professionals feed information back to the setting. If a child has undergone a common assessment then there will be a lead professional in charge of the case. If this is not the Senco or key person from the setting then the setting must remain in contact with the lead professional to support the child effectively.

D – Explain the importance of an inclusive pre-school setting for children with disabilities and special educational needs.

Practitioners should understand both the legal and moral duty to provide an inclusive environment for all children who wish to attend their setting. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1991 states that all children have a right to an education and to be treated with dignity and respect. Add to this the statutory requirements of The Equality Act 2010, The Children Act 1989, the EYFS Welfare Requirements and Every Child Matters 2003 and it becomes clear that inclusion is not a choice, but a necessity. The SEN Code of Practice 2001 states that, “all children are entitled to learn alongside their peers and that the expectation that all children can achieve their potential should be high.” (SEN Code of Practice, 2001, DFES Publication).

Pre-schools should try their best to meet the needs of all children who attend and to help them achieve appropriate learning goals. Children who feel valued and respected have higher levels of self-esteem which can have a positive impact on their future learning. Learning alongside peers can help to make children feel an important part of society, not seen as a problem. The social model of disability makes it clear that it is society’s responsibility to remove barriers to participation. It should not be suggested that the child is causing problems for the setting. If a setting can provide good access and inclusive resources, equipment and attitudes it can have a lasting impact on all who attend. Children with disabilities and special educational needs have a right to access the curriculum fully, both indoors and outdoors and staff should take this into consideration, making adaptations if necessary. All children who attend will understand that people are different, yet can make equally positive contributions. Children who value and respect diversity can only have a positive impact on the world at large.

C – Explain how individual education plans are used to progress the learning and development of children with disabilities and special educational needs

An individual education plan is developed once it has been identified that a child requires further support than the setting curriculum and short term planning can provide. The SENCO works closely with the key person and the parents to develop targets to advance the child’s development in specific areas of need. The targets need to be SMART, that is specific to the child, measurable by the setting, achievable, realistic and set to a timescale. As well as setting targets the IEP should suggest methods for achieving the targets. This provides support to the key person and the parents who may wish to work with their child at home. The strategies suggested should link to the child’s likes and interests to encourage their development.

It is very important that IEP’s are reviewed regularly. If targets are SMART then parents and practitioners are more likely to see progress and this is important as it increases the confidence of all involved, including the child. There shouldn’t be too many targets as this makes it difficult for practitioners to focus on specific areas of development. The IEP should be reviewed every 6 to 8 weeks, feedback given to parents and new targets set if appropriate. With specific and realistic targets, using scaffolding to break down key learning goals and steps, progress can be made.

As noted earlier if other professionals are included in the IEP the setting should maintain close communication with them in order to support the child effectively, set and work towards targets together and review progress regularly.

B – Analyse the effectiveness of your pre-school setting in providing an inclusive culture for children with disabilities and special educational needs.
I feel that my setting does work hard to provide an inclusive environment for children with special educational needs and disabilities and their families. Physical access for wheelchair users remains the main obstacle as we are based in a village hall and although we have an accessible toilet and wide doorways, we do have steps leading down to the outdoor area. Although this limits true free flow for children who are wheelchair users we can access the outside space from the front of the building. We use a visual timetable with the children to support routines and use simple sign language to say hello, goodbye and time for snack. Our resources reflect the children who attend the setting, we have books which include children with disabilities and we have a family board which includes photos from home for all children. This helps children to see that people look different, live in different houses and enjoy doing different things.

Our relationships with parents are positive and I feel they are treated with respect and always welcomed when they attend the setting. Parents talk to us about their children’s needs and experiences and this helps us to provide appropriate activities and support. The majority of the parents who have children with special educational needs work with us to support their development at home, often borrowing resources from the setting. We occasionally have parents who find it difficult to accept their child is having difficulties and this can be challenging. For this reason staff are sent on training when it is available from Essex Early years and the Pre-school learning alliance on issues regarding special educational needs and disability. All staff have attended the introduction to inclusion course and autism awareness and found it very useful.

Our mission statement in our inclusion policy states that we see inclusion as journey and we will continue to make improvements so that all feel truly welcomed, supported and valued. Our Equality Named Co-ordinator has recently completed our single equality scheme which includes actions designed to make our setting more inclusive. One of the actions is to research funding to buy a ramp to make the outside accessible to all. I feel our setting works hard to identify the barriers that exist and to find a way of breaking them down.

A – Evaluate the concept of a social model of disability

There are two models of disability; medical and social. For years the medical model was the more common stance taken by society. It sees disability as something that should be pitied and needs to be cured. “The problem is seen as the disabled person and their impairment, and the solution is seen as adapting the disabled person to fit the non-disabled world, often through medical intervention.” (Children and Young Person’s Workforce, P Tassoni et al, Heinemann, 2010, p199) The medical model led to people with disabilities being segregated so their needs could be met in “special” schools and establishments. Those fighting for the rights of people with disabilities became frustrated by this approach and devised the social model of disability. The social model of disability focuses on society making changes, rather than the person with the disability. It states that it is society’s responsibility to break down barriers to inclusion, whether they be physical, attitudinal or institutional. This model has encouraged society to adapt an inclusive approach, to attempt inclusion rather than segregation.

The social model has encouraged society and indeed settings to focus on what the barriers to inclusion are and whether or not they can break them down. Our setting, as stated earlier has spent time considering the barriers and is now taking active steps to overcome them. I feel that our setting takes it’s responsibility to overcome barriers seriously, we want all children to feel valued and to have an equal opportunity to achieve.

In our setting our training has meant that we focus on the individual child holistically. We consider the whole child and do not focus on their disability or special educational need. We work hard to ensure they can take part in all activities that they wish to and do not use their disability as an excuse for them to sit out. Our planning focuses on the needs of all children and although children with disabilities may receive additional support it is not at the expense of others who attend.

I think it is important to say that I have met a person with disabilities who disagreee with the social model and felt that the medical model reflected how they felt about their own disability. This however was a very personal response from a person who had spent years feeling frustrated by their disability and indeed society’s inability to adapt to ensure inclusion. The social model will hopefully encourage more individuals to adapt not only their environments, but the attitudes they have towards people with disabilities.


Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework Section 1.14 DCSF May 2008 Early Years Foundation Stage: 1.2 Inclusive Practice › ... › SEN and disability paragraph 1.6 SEN and Disability Green Paper Updated 20 December 2012

DFES – 2001
Special educational needs Code of Practice, Crown Copyright 2001

Tassoni, P – 2003
Supporting Special Needs, Understanding Inclusion in the Early Years, Heinemann

Tassoni P, 2006 Second Edition
Diploma in Pre-School Practice, Heinemann

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