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The Children and Families Act 2014, The Equalities Act 2010, and the SEND Code of Practice 2014, were put in place to make sure that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) get greater support, choice, and opportunities.
The SEND Code of Practice runs through the responsibilities that English nurseries and Early Years settings have in order to support children with SEND, alongside the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.
You should focus on putting inclusive, good practice at the very heart of your nursery, as part of a whole-setting approach.
As a nursery or early years provider, you are responsible for:
‘SEND’ is an incredibly broad spectrum. Children may have physical disabilities, hearing difficulties, learning disabilities, visual disabilities, social and/or emotional difficulties, for example.
However, special educational needs are generally grouped into 4 broad areas:
Of course, how you meet the needs of children with SEN will depend on the complexity and specifics of that individual’s needs. However, these practices can be broken down into:
Now that we know the background, it’s time to dig into the toolbox and find out the things you need in order to provide for children with SEN in the best way possible.
Your SENDCO has a legal duty to follow the SEND code of practice but is important that this person is not expected to physically do all the hands-on work with every SEND child in your setting.
SENDCO’s should be focusing on:
The SENDCO role is of great importance to your setting and, as with any of your staff members, hiring the right person for the role is critical. So, what to look for when hiring a SENDCO?
The person should have:
The person should know:
The person should be:
Your setting will likely have an Area SENDCO too from the Local Authority. They’ll work alongside your setting's SENDCO to support your SEND children.
The setting's SENDCO and the child with SEND's key worker should work in partnership with the parents or carers. It's key that all parties understand the importance of building strong communication strategies in the best interests of the child. Parents or carers not only play an integral role in identifying their child’s SEND, but it’s also vital that they are kept totally up-to-date on their child’s journey at your nursery.
Their views should inform the action taken by you – they need to have trust in you as a setting to know what is best for their child. Therefore achieving a trustworthy, respected relationship is going to benefit everybody involved!
This cycle of action (promoted by The SEND Code of Practice 0-25) is a great way to stay on top of things with your SEND provision.
Assess – You can base this on:
Plan – This step must be child-centred:
Do – All practitioners should be made aware of the plan for effective implementation.
Review – You should review the provision in your nursery by the date decided in the planning stage. This should involve the child’s parents/carers.
Then the cycle starts again. This is how you make sure that improvements are being made each time.
As practitioners, you and the family concerned can access a large and ever-expanding network of support. Outside services used could include:
Of course, it is expected that children with more severe or complex conditions will require higher levels of contact with a greater range of SEND support services.
The Council for Disabled Children makes the point that early intervention produces immediate and long-term benefits for children with disabilities, their families and society.
Some ideas for ways to gather information for early intervention include:
For children with SEND in particular this check should aim to:
Overall, preparation, open-mindedness and high-quality staff are the main tool you need to be well on your way to having an accessible, inclusive, stimulating and supportive environment for all children.
To finish off, here are some ideas on how you can optimise the service you offer to your SEND children and their families.
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.