Special educational needs care

MA Education
Monday, March 2, 2015

Although a welcome update, the 2014 SEND Code of Practice provides a real challenge for childcarers looking to implement all of its changes and to disseminate appropriate knowledge throughout settings.

Special educational needs care
Special educational needs care

Caring for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) brings its own unique challenges, as well as its own rewards. Often, a child will have already been diagnosed with a condition before joining your setting, which is why those early discussions with the child's family are so vital, helping you to understand the child's individual needs, and putting in place plans for training and any other adaptations to your practice.

It is not uncommon, however, for the childcare professional to be the one who first identifies those needs; going on to play a pivotal role in helping the child and their family to find the support they need.

Two-fifths of PACEY members care for at least one child with SEND, and we have welcomed the new SEND Code of Practice, which came into effect, alongside the Children and Families Act, in September last year.

The new code reflects a more streamlined approach to supporting children with SEND, placing the child and their family at the heart of the system. There is also a shift of focus, especially when compared with the SEN Code of Practice 2001, towards a more aspirational approach to learning for children with SEND.

In a recent survey, more than seven 7-in-10 of our members told us that they would like further information about how to implement the changes to the SEND system in their individual early years settings. So, to help childcare professionals understand and implement the Code of Practice and, in particular, their roles and responsibilities in relation to it, PACEY has produced a new guide to Caring for Children with SEND.

The guide is designed to help you think about early identification, supporting families and making the most of what is on offer in your local area. In particular, it looks at how childcare professionals might be involved with Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessments and plans. It also explores local authorities' Local Offers, and how to get involved.

There are hints and tips from PACEY members, and other experienced early years professionals, about caring for children with SEND, including top tips and case studies.

It can certainly feel daunting to bring a child into your setting who has special educational needs, particularly if there is the possibility that those needs could impact on the other children in your care. You may need to support the other children in understanding any behaviours or ways of doing things that may be unfamiliar to them, but given time to adjust, these can present tremendous opportunities for them to learn about mutual respect, allowing them to cultivate a more empathetic approach to those who may at first appear different from them.

As one childcare professional told PACEY: ‘caring for disabled children has a positive effect on the other children in my care. All the children learn acceptance and as a result have become more caring.

‘We talk about a particular child's needs and I buy books and resources to help them understand. Parents have commented to me that their children have developed empathy for other people's situations and a better understanding of the world.’

As an early years educator, you may find yourself in the trusted position of identifying the unique educational requirements of a child with SEND, working closely with their family, and any other ‘support services that may be required, in giving them the best possible start in life.

‘In a recent survey, more than seven 7-in-10 of our members told us that they would like further information about how to implement the changes to the SEND system in their setting’

As one childminder told PACEY: ‘When parents say I am their lifeline that means more to me than anything, it makes me feel as though I am doing the job that I set out to do’.

Yes, there will be challenges, but what could be more rewarding than that? eye

Useful resources
  • Caring for Children with SEND can be ordered directly through PACEY: Tel: 0300 003 0005. Or visit the website, here: shop.pacey.org.uk

  • • You can also order printed and bound copies of the SEND Code of Practice through PACEY from just £12.99. Please visit the website for more information

  • • The DfE SEND Code of Practice site can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25

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