Today’s article is a guide explaining the support available to children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities. This is often referred to simply as ‘SEND’ or alternatively ‘SEN and disabilities’. Here, we will explore the importance of identifying SEND in children, the benefits of early intervention, and the various avenues available to help children affected. The information in this post should be useful to parents whose children may be impacted by special needs or disabilities and is one small part of our nursery’s serious commitment to supporting such children.
Why Identification Matters
Identifying Special Educational Needs & Disabilities in children is the first crucial first step in being able to help them. Only through identification can timely support and tailored interventions be put in place to help mitigate issues that may otherwise hold children back. It will empower parents, caregivers, early years practitioners and any supporting professionals to understand a child’s unique needs and thereby facilitate the provision of the right kinds of assistance.
The Benefits of Early Identification
Early identification of SEND is of crucial importance and offers numerous benefits for children affected. Put simply, it allows support measures to be put in place at the earliest opportunity, thereby minimising any delay in the child’s learning and development progress. Timely interventions can lead to enhancements like better communication skills, increased independence, and vastly improved overall development. Such help will enhance a child’s learning experiences, improve their quality of life, and also foster a sense of inclusivity. Inclusion is incredibly important to children’s mental health and well-being — and avoids them feeling isolated and ‘different’.
How Identification Works
Identifying SEND in children involves close collaboration between parents, caregivers, childcare nursery staff, the setting’s SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator), healthcare professionals and, where needed, any specialists. This collaborative effort between parties emphasises the “Assess, Plan, Do, and Review” approach, which is a circular and evolving strategy to identify any areas of concern and ultimately to support the child. For children under five, the EYFS framework for early years settings also incorporates a similar, complementary approach. For children specifically aged two, the official ‘Progress Check at 2‘ will also be a key tool within the assessment and planning stages.
The Tailored Support Plan
The resulting tailored support plan is designed to meet the unique needs of each individual child. Through the ‘review’ element embedded in the approach, such plans evolve over time as their effectiveness is continuously assessed. As adjustments are deemed to be required, they are fine-tuned en route as and whenever necessary. Specialists like speech and language therapists or other professional expertise may also be brought in to provide additional support if appropriate.
Recourse to an EHC Assessment
Should, for whatever reason, the support plan be deemed ineffective, parents, health visitors, healthcare professionals or even family members are also at liberty to request an Education, Health & Care Assessment (‘EHC’). If the application for such an assessment proves successful, it will be organised by the child’s local authority. More information about EHC assessments is available here.
Special Funding from the Local Authority
Additionally, the child’s local authority may provide special funding through their own ‘Area SENCo’ (Area Special Educational Needs Coordinator). If sanctioned, this funding can be used for tailored support like additional staff, extra learning resources, specialist equipment, or bespoke activities tailored to the child’s specific needs. The Area SENCo also assists with transitioning children from early years settings to school.
The Local Offer
Local authorities publish what’s known as a ‘Local Offer’ on their online information portal. This explains what support is available for young people with special educational needs or disabilities. This resource is designed to help families understand the services and assistance potentially available, for their child, in their local area. By way of example, the local authority for Edgbaston is Birmingham City Council, whose Local Offer portal can be found here.
Childcare Funding for Children with SEND
Eligible children under five with SEND may be able to access additional funding to cover some of the costs associated with childcare. This is a significant topic in its own right and, as such, may indeed merit its own separate blog post. We may look at that in due course, so watch this space. However, to give you a flavour, a few examples of childcare funding available specifically to eligible children with SEND include:
- an upgrade, potentially to £4,000 of childcare support, through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme for those with disabilities;
- additional childcare hours for children aged 2 if they are receiving Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’);
- additional childcare hours for children aged 2 if they are the subject of an Education, Health & Care (‘EHC’) plan.
At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we are committed to supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities. Identification of issues, early intervention and collaboration between ourselves, parents, caregivers, and specialists like healthcare professionals, is essential for the well-being and development of children with SEND. Such support can make a hugely positive impact on their lives. With that in mind, we take all measures necessary to facilitate this, in a warm and nurturing environment that promotes inclusive learning for all.
Contact Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham
Please don’t hesitate to contact us about nursery places for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under five, or to discuss how we can assist your child. With Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, your child will be in good hands. Ofsted rates us as a Good Provider of childcare and early years education and we also support the various Government-funded childcare schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.
To enquire about a nursery/preschool place for your child, arrange a free guided tour, or ask any questions, please contact us through one of the options below.
Leaps and Bounds is a good nursery and preschool in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. For those requiring high-quality childcare for under-fives near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne or Smethwick, we are also conveniently close, so do consider us for your childcare needs if you live or work in any of those nearby locations.