‘Inclusion is a journey with a clear direction and purpose: equality of opportunity for all children’.
The aspiration to support every child with SEND to have the best start in life lies at the heart of effective inclusive practice. This should be clear in all Brighton & Hove early years settings.
What does good inclusion look like in early years settings?
- a welcome for all disabled children, secure relationships and support for families when they need it
- respect for difference and a commitment to building friendships and community to the benefit of everyone
- equality of access to play, learning, leisure and all aspects of life
- the active participation of children and their families in decision-making.
- a proactive approach to identifying and removing barriers
- timely access to information and to people with empowering attitudes, supportive skills and expertise.
Before additional interventions are considered, settings need to ensure the child’s learning experience is of high quality. Good quality inclusive nursery provision for all learners should be reviewed by the setting with the SENCO and include the following:
- an effectively differentiated Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum
- monitoring of progress to identify where a child is developmentally
- a range of assessment and screening ‘tools’ to support closer identification of needs
- putting in place effective, evidence-based interventions individually tailored to needs
- identification of staff training needs in SEND and built into the settings CPD programme.
SEND Code of Practice (2014) and broad areas of need
The SEND Code of Practice (2014) sets out the requirements necessary to support children and young people aged 0-25 years with additional needs. Chapter five particularly covers early years, but some other sections may also be relevant at times.
Early years providers must have regard to the Code of Practice and have robust arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities. These arrangements should include a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN.
Children’s SEN are generally thought of in the following four broad areas of need and support:
- communication and interaction needs (C&I)
- cognition and learning needs (C&L)
- social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH)
- sensory and / or physical needs (S&P)
These areas give an overview of the range of needs that providers should plan for. However, children often have needs that cut across all these areas and their needs may change over time.
For instance, speech, language and communication needs can also be a feature of several other areas of SEN. Children with an autism spectrum disorder may also have needs across all areas. The special educational provision made for a child should always be based on an understanding of their strengths and needs and should seek to address them all.
What information to record and how to track progress
SEN registers can act as monitoring tools for SENCOs to record SEND. Any list (register) with key information of children, needs to be compliant with GPDR.
Records kept for children will identify the SEND cycle of assess, plan, do, review. This process includes consideration of the following information:
- SEND early identification approaches
- SEND Support Plans
- identification of progress
- discussion with parents / carers about their child’s progress and any concerns
- SEND list updated following discussion with parent carers
- staff to consider whether the child’s presenting needs are due to EAL alone rather than a SEND
- a diagnosis or disability alone does not indicate a child has SEND
- tools available to support, e.g. Tapestry, Progress Tracker, Developmental Journals, ECAT and Mosaic
- a wide range of needs will be supported as identified in the SEND: guide for early years settings.
Early Years settings are asked to identify if a child has SEND in their termly headcount. They are asked to identify if a child has no SEND, SEND Support or an Education Health Care Plan. Information from the Spring term is then uploaded for the DfE annual census.
Graduated approach framework
Each setting will aim to deliver good quality inclusive nursery provision with high quality learning experiences. Children will respond in varied ways at varied times.
The SENCO will work with the early years staff to adjust the environment and learning experiences to meet the needs of the child and monitor progress. At times, a child will require additional adjustments and the team will plan for, and deliver, these interventions where required working in partnership with parent and carers. These additional interventions form the child’s SEND support.
The Code of Practice describes ‘SEND Support’ being required where a child is identified as having SEND. To enable the child to participate, learn and make progress Early Years settings should act to:
- remove barriers to learning
- put effective special educational provision in place.
Early identification of a child having SEND is important. SENCOs in early years settings can promote early identification by ensuring that effective systems are in place such as observations and staff liaison.
This enables children’s additional needs to be identified early, and concerns are acted on. Early years settings are often where concerns are first seen – settling / new environment / challenge.
- High quality teaching that is differentiated and personalised will meet the individual needs of most children. Some children need educational provision that is additional to, or different from this. (Code of Practice 1.24).
- This will include children that are receiving some differentiated additional support from practitioners and SENCO within a setting (above and beyond what other children are getting) and those who are also supported by outside agencies.
SEND support should arise from a four-part cycle, known as the graduated approach. Through this approach earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised. This leads to a growing understanding of the child’s needs and of what support the child needs to make good progress and secure good outcomes. The four stages of the cycle are: Assess, Plan, Do, Review.
Graduated Response Cycle
'Assess, Plan, Do, Review shouldn't really be new as a concept to good practitioners and SENCos. It should be what they are doing anyway - identify what the core difficulty is and plan an appropriate strategy, taking into account how the child learns the best. Then carry out the plan and review how it's working.'
SEND support should be recorded on SEND support plans. They should only record that which is additional to or different from the differentiated curriculum plan that is in place as part of normal provision. All plans should be discussed with parents.
Strategies employed to enable the child to progress should be recorded within a plan. This should include: information about the short-term targets set for the child, the teaching strategies and the provision to be put in place, when the plan is to be reviewed, and the outcome of the action taken.
Targets should be:
- Specific – clear, succinctly worded and understood by everyone
- Measurable – what will the child be achieving when target is met
- Achievable – the ‘next step’ for the child
- Relevant – take a key aspect of the child’s development forward
- Timebound – worked towards for an appropriate amount of time.
The SEND support plan is a working document that should be readily available for the appropriate staff to consult for planning, assessment and to inform the support in place for a child.
Parents should be involved as much as possible in the setting of and working towards targets. Invite suggestions for targets but bear in mind that priorities may differ, and you may have to reach a compromise.
Try to suggest ways in which parents / carers can support the target at home and invite regular feedback as well as input into the review process. It is ok to revise a target if you find it is either too challenging or not challenging enough. Keep parents involved in the process though.
It is ok to review a SEND support plan before the agreed review date if a target has been achieved earlier than expected. When reviewing the plan invite input from all involved, including the child if this is possible. Consider the following:
- progress – has the target been partly / fully / not achieved?
- why? – were appropriate/effective strategies used?
- what next? – how can we maintain progress? Is a further SEND Support Plan necessary or can needs be met your usual differentiated support?
- level of support – is a further SEND Support Plan at the same level needed, or more specialised support?
Please remember to keep reviewed SEND support plans available as they may be needed to show progress/patterns of support for transition or requesting statutory assessment.
The following are links that offer advice to support SEND planning:
Below are some tools to support measuring progress of children with SEND
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The EYFS framework sets the standards to make sure that children aged from birth to 5 learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe.
The framework is for all Ofsted registered early years providers in all settings, including nurseries, childminders, pre-schools and reception.
Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (publishing.service.gov.uk)
Every Child a Talker
Every Child a Talker (ECAT) was designed to develop the language and communication of children from birth to five years of age. The national project involving 51 Local Authorities (including Brighton and Hove in 2010-11) was set up after concern about the high levels of ‘language impoverishment’ in the UK, and how this affects children’s progress in school and chances in life.
ECAT strategies and resources were designed to help staff create a supportive and stimulating environment within a provision in which children could enjoy experimenting with and learning language. ECAT encouraged the development of early language through everyday, fun and interesting activities which reflected children’s interests and enabled them to become confident and skilled communicators.
The child monitoring tool is a resource that is still used in Brighton and Hove by EMAS and staff in early educational settings to identify children who are at risk of speech, language and communication needs.
Every Child a Talker: Guidance for Early Language Lead Practitioners (foundationyears.org.uk)
Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ®)
Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ®) provides reliable, accurate developmental and social-emotional screening for children between birth and age 6. Drawing on parents’ expert knowledge, ASQ has been specifically designed to pinpoint developmental progress and catch delays in young children—paving the way for meaningful next steps in learning, intervention, or monitoring.
Home - Ages and Stages
The Early Years Developmental Journal is designed for families, practitioners and others to use as a way of recording, celebrating and supporting children's progress.
This Journal is particularly useful if it is known or suspected that a child being supported is unlikely to progress in the same way or at the same rate as other children - whether or not a particular factor or learning difficulty has been identified and given a name. It is also for people who would like to find out more about children's development in the early years
Early Years Developmental Journal
How to Use the School Years Developmental Journal
Early Years Toolkit
An accessible summary of educational research for early years teaching from EEF
Early Years Toolkit | Education Endowment Foundation | EEF
Personal Education Plan (PEP)
The PEP is the education part of a looked-after child's care plan. A termly Early Years PEP meeting and action plan is recommended for any child who is looked-after in an early years setting. For children of statutory school age the PEP meeting and the PEP document are statutory aspects of a child in care’s care plan. The PEP meeting provides opportunities to plan, discuss and evaluate the educational experience of a child and to ensure that their needs are being met. Meetings and plans are also recommended for children who were previously in care. More information is available from the Virtual School.
Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)