The focus behind this piece of work is to show that all children have an opportunity to have an education no matter what their specific or additional need is. This is where inclusion falls in and shows that inclusion is not just about disabled children but it includes children who have different variety of additional and specific needs which will enable support that will be available to them.
However, it will also show them a sense of belonging if each child within the setting is supported and included in each activity that is planned. Within this essay, it will critically analyse and evaluate the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Policy for a setting, which will then lead onto writing a set of guidelines for a new practitioner to work effectively to implement the SEN Policy in the second half of this essay.
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Throughout the years governments have passed numerous legislations that underpin policies that are adhered to within the early years settings. A major approach for Special Educational Needs was the (1978) Warnock Report which introduced the following terms to prevent children from being labelled by their medical conditions,
- Speech and language disorders,
- Visual disability and hearing disability,
- Emotional and behaviour disorders
- Learning difficulties, specific, mild, moderate and severe”. Soan.S,(2005:17)
The report then followed onto The Education Act 1981. This Act provided the basis of approaches to identifying children with SEN which allowed them to meet the needs of those children once their needs were identified. At this moment of time the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (CoP) 2001 which was an amendment to the SEN CoP 1994 as well as the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001 are effective document guides which practitioners and other professionals follow for advice. The SEN CoP 2001 highlights the government’s commitment to early years education and in particular early assessment and intervention for children with a special or an additional need. In addition Soan.S, (2005:17), states that “without the knowledge and understanding of the documents you will find it hard to develop your own pedagogy in order to teach children with SEN”.
The requirement as to why SEN policies are essential for all practitioners to be adhered to can be summarised by Mittler.P, (2000:133) “Teachers need to be prepared to teach all children, and that this should be understood as both a personal and an institutional commitment”. Therefore, settings should be required to have a working SEN policy which is put into practice, the Policy that is implemented should be followed by the SEN CoP 2001 which shows guidelines of how to implement an effective and up to date working SEN Policy. The policy clearly shows that it has met the requirements that the SEN CoP 2001 ensure that all policies should have, as listed below it will stipulate how it has followed the guidelines to meet the requirements.
The SEN Policy includes the following subheadings which explain how the setting supports SEN within their primary school setting. It talks about how the school as a whole provides provision for children with SEN, which includes the SENCO, headteacher, governing body as well as other members of the staff. The role and responsibilities of the SENCO including the headteacher are stipulated, how admissions arrangements are arranged, the specialist provisions available, resources that are available as well as how the staff and the SENCO identify assess and review children’s needs. It also instructs the graduated response and so on.
However, a disadvantage to taking into account is that the policy briefly mentions parental involvement in a section of the policy which doesn’t give a thorough explanation on how the school interacts and involves parents within their children’s educational needs. Working in partnership with parents “is a crucial area of current interest and development within the government’s agenda for inclusion for all pupils and in particular which is the significance for pupils who have special educational needs”. Soan.S, (2005:53)
Within the policy the SENCOs name is mentioned which is a teacher from Year 6, the SENCOs role is varied as she has many responsibilities to handle to ensure that the children with SEN receive provisions that will enable the children to develop their learning within. The SENCO is responsible for coordinating all the Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) that are in place for those children who are at the process of School Action, School Action Plus and with those who have statements of SEN. Once the SENCO has set the IEPs she is responsible for the provision of those children who are at School Action Plus by providing Learning Support Staff for them so that the child can achieve in its learning and development. Involving all necessary external agencies that SEN children need such as Educational Psychologist, Health and Social Services, physiotherapist as well as NCH is another responsibility for the SENCO to organise.
However in provisions of the management of children with learning difficulties and disabilities, society has come along way. The children that were identified with such difficulties and needs were sent away to establishments at the beginning of the 20th century. As DES, (1974: 4) mentions that for both “integration as opposed to segregation, becomes an article of faith: if the handicapped and the normal are to understand one another and live together in the adult world, they should not be separated during their most formative years”.
Therefore since then attitudes and beliefs have changed and integration was introduced and considered as a step forward. Integration made it essential that the children fit in with mainstream schools alongside a mix of other children to enhance their self-esteem. Soan.S, (2005:16) “emphasises that only in recent years has the philosophy of an ‘inclusive’ approach been adopted”.
Therefore vast importance is sited upon the early recognition of SEN by the legal government documents, as mentioned in the Code of Practice (2001:46), “The importance of early identification, assessment and provision for any child who may have special educational needs cannot be over-emphasized”. Furthermore, it is also discussed in the Government’s Strategy for SEN that early identification is the cornerstone of our strategy (2004:9). This then allows the child to be given support and provision at the earliest to help their identified need being met by suitable planning and actions required upon. As a result for specified impairments such as speech, it is necessary to identify at an early stage (Dockrell: 2002).
In addition, to help families it ensures that they receive appropriate advice of how they can ensure that they adapt and provide the best for their child under circumstances as early identification of such impairments or disorders can “have an effect on social, psychological and financial issues within the family” Bruce.T, (1997:394). Difficulties that are not addressed at an early stage can later on in schooling or economic productivity which can become difficult to handle. Therefore Jones.C stipulates that feelings of underachievement can lead to disruptive behaviour which can soon spiral out of control (2004:14). However, society will benefit from preventing such disorders with the influence and systems such as early identification which is crucial for a consistent society when children become adults.
When the children start school or go into the next year group teachers alongside other members of staff carry out observations and assessments to aid planning so that they can help groups or individual children develop holistically with the class. The assessments and observations are then reviewed with the last year group teacher to identify any concerns that have risen which then enable the teachers and the SENCO at an early stage to provide support and provision for those children with SEN. All staff members work together to ensure that the child is receiving the correct support through external agencies as well as resources.
Although early identification involves training and experience of assessment and the developmental norms, mistakes that are made can make worse difficulties for the children if they are diagnosed with different needs. Therefore early development does not necessarily follow the developmental norms for example what might be just a level of maturity issue could be diagnosed incorrectly as SEN.
All staff members are responsible for identifying needs within children, once these needs are highlighted the staff work alongside the SENCO to ensure that they intervene appropriately at an early stage with the correct provision and support for the child. To ensure that the child is progressing the class teacher observes the child and if they still have concerns that the child is not progressing the SENCO will intervene again. On this occasion, the SENCO will decide whether the child needs to be put on the Early Years Action/School Action.
Once the need is highlighted the setting will set an IEP, the IEP details the main area of concern/focus which depends on the needs of the child. Therefore specific set targets or teaching strategies will be set ideally of 3 to 4, these targets will be measurable and achievable by the child which will enable them to progress onto. Additionally, if clear progress is still not being made it may be crucial to move up onto the next stage of statementing, Early Years Action/School Action Plus.
At this phase of process, the SENCO will seek advice from external agencies for example, Educational psychologists, Speech and Language Therapist etc. It is important for the SENCO to liaise with all parties including the parents to ensure that the child’s needs are being met therefore the IEPs should be reviewed regularly to ensure that the child is progressing. However if it still seems that adequate progression is still not being met, it may be
decided to apply for a statutory assessment. Crowne.E, (2003:25) argues that “I.E.P.’s should inform planning for use within the group”. Although the statementing process has its advantages it can also be deemed to have downsides too as statementing can vary on the time it takes to actually obtain the statement of SEN. Within the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage the following MP Margaret Hodge stated that the early years are critical in children’s development. Children can develop rapidly during this time – physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. (2000: 2).
Furthermore, within the policy, the school have aims that clearly stipulate that the setting provides an inclusive education for all their students which is a warm and supportive environment for the children to have a good education in and enjoy themselves whilst learning. Inclusion is the process of taking necessary steps to ensure that every young person is given an equality of opportunity to develop socially such as being welcomed by and being able to participate within the life of their school and their community, to have an education, by enjoying and having fun with their learning and having the ability to develop as individuals and to enjoy community life with others.
It is also a way of ensuring that every child matters regardless of their individual needs and recognizing and value the uniqueness of every young person. All young people have the right to be accepted, to achieve and be valued for the contribution they make. It is also said that “when good inclusion is in place, the child who needs the inclusion does not stand out. The inclusive curriculum includes strong parental involvement, pupils making choices, and a lot of hands-on and heads-on involvement.” (Dr Melissa Heston, Associate Professor of Education, University of Northern Iowa).
There can be many advantages of including some of the following examples are stated which are, that it helps children develop socially with their peers who are able to help promote positive behaviour. It enables those children who don’t have SEN to assist those who have SEN which enables all children to understand each other better. Within inclusion everyone is granted an equal education as it helps the children who have special needs or additional needs to develop a sense of pride in their work as they will actually feel that they have accomplished something worthwhile.
However, there can also be disadvantages of inclusion which is that SEN children who are placed in an inclusion setting which is not able to meet the needs of the children with SEN. Some children who have special educational needs or additional needs can be disruptive within the class and disturb others from their learning. There can also be a problem with bullying as this can affect the children’s education which can lead to the children not wanting to come into school as they feel excluded from the others and different.
In conclusion, it is clear that progress has been made; every child no matter what learning difficulties they encounter can expect to be taught within an inclusive environment that is appropriate to meet their needs. Mainstream schools need to continually extend themselves, to become more aware and responsive to the needs of SEN pupils. They have to do this in order to cope with the forever widening scope of SEN pupils’ demands and to ensure that SEN pupils continue to gain the benefits of remaining in a mainstream environment.
Essentially the quality of education on offer presented to parents through education performance tables, and how well it relates to an individual’s needs is what matters most. Legislation has provided a framework to meet all children’s needs, politically there is some catching up to do, in the way of providing equitable resources. If this is not achieved, it will be difficult for society to embrace the concept of ‘inclusion’, which is so greatly needed.
Identifying SEN and meeting the needs of those children can be a difficult matter which is essential that all early years practitioners should receive up-to-date training and support, in order to fulfil this aim. Excellent identification systems and innovative teaching practices are essential for success.
Guidelines for a new practitioner
Our main priority within the setting is that we aim to provide effective support and provision for all individual children so that they can achieve their full potential. We ensure that this is achieved by following the requirements that are expected from us under the Code of Practice 2001. In order for all children to achieve we as a team ensure that children with Special Educational Needs have access to a broad, balanced curriculum which will ensure that it is appropriate to their needs.
The current SENCO in our setting is Mrs Roberts.
Through our SEN Policy we aim to
- Provide a supportive and inclusive warm environment for all children.
- Provide a broad, balanced curriculum that will ensure that it is appropriate to the children’s needs in order for them to enhance their self-esteem and confidence which will enable children to show themselves what they are achievable of.
- Monitoring all children regularly to see adequate progress.
- Monitoring all children that are on the SEN register with IEPs or without.
- Maintain relevant and appropriate records.
- Enable effective partnerships with parents through various ways o communication e.g. letters, meetings and home visits.
- Work effectively with external agencies.
- Maintain IEPs of children with statements, school action and school action plus.
- Support teachers when they are planning and preparing IEPs for children with SEN.
- Facilitating smooth transfers for children going onto the next phase of their education.
- Assess and observe children who are causing concern in their home language to inform about possible interventions.
Responsibilities and Procedures
- If you have concerns about a child refer them to the SENCO. The SENCO will then carry out assessments and observations on the child to see whether their is a specific or additional need.
- If there is a need identified the SENCO will place the child upon the SEN register where they will enable the child on the school action. An IEP will be devised and targets will be selected no more of up to 5 targets will be set.
- The SENCO will contact parents to ensure that the child’s parents are up to date with what is happening with their child. The child will be monitored regularly to see whether the child has made any progress on the targets.
- The IEP will then be reviewed to see whether the child has made adequate progress. If the child still seems to be struggling with the targets that were specified further action should be required.
- The SENCO will place the child on the school action plus and involve external agencies for advice on how to support the child’s needs. Parents again will be notified of this change.
- The IEP will again be changed and have similar targets that will be achievable for the child and adequate support will be given.
- Once the IEP is reviewed again with parents and external agencies it will then decide upon whether the child is making progress. If child is still struggling a statutory assessment will have to be granted so that the child can be statemented.
- A copy of each IEP of the child will be sent to the parents to notify them of any changes.
- The change of support will be notified by letters.
- Parents are invited to annual review meetings to discuss child’s progress.
- Parents evenings and parental enquires such as grades behaviour etc.
Before children join our setting we allow parents to come and visit the setting to ensure that it is accessible and also to check our facilities. We have a one-level building that can be accessed by all however some classrooms have single steps but there are still other routes which the classrooms can be accessed by. Rather than having doors we have screens and the doors that we do have we ensure that they are fitted with slow enclosures.
The school ensures that every child has access to the relevant resources that they require. The SEN budget is spent on human and material resources. The children that are at School Action Plus the SENCO support them either in small or individual groups. All children which are statemented or on School Action/School Action Plus are supported by learning support assistants as well as the SENCO.
Bruce.T, (1997), Early Childhood Education, 2nd Edition, Great Britain: Hodder and Stoughton
Crowne.E, (1996), The SENCO Handbook – Working within a Whole School Approach, 4th Edition, Great Britian: David Fulton Publishers
DfEE, (2000), Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, Great Britain: DfEE
DfES, (2001), Special Educational Needs – Code of Practice 2001, Great Britain: DfES Publications
DfES, (2004), Removing Barriers to Achievement – The Government’s Strategy for SEN, Great Britain: DfES Publications
DES, (1974), Integrating Handicapped Children, London: HNSO
Dockrell.J, Peacey.N, & Lunt.I, (2002), Literature Review – Meeting the Needs of Children with Special Educational Needs, London: Institute of Education
Jones.C, (2004), Supporting Inclusion in the Early Years, Great Britain: Open University Press
Mittler, P, (2000), Working Towards Inclusive Education – Social Contexts, Great Britain: Fulton Publishers
Soan.S, (2005), Reflective Reader – Primary Special Educational Needs, Great Britian: Learning Matters Ltd
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