Stockport have put additional resource into upskilling the local Early Years workforce so they are better equipped to support children with SEND in their settings and make appropriate and informed referrals into the EHC process when required. They have formalised all of their processes and made sure that all practitioners are familiar with what the SEND Team offers and how to access their services. Funding is available from the SEND Team to local nurseries (through high needs to-up) for providing intervention for their children with SEND, attempting to prevent any issues worsening, and potentially reducing the need for an EHC plan at a later stage.
The model uses a strong ‘Team Around the Child’ approach and all of the Early Years practitioners are trained in Early Support. Team members from a wide range of disciplines (OT, SLT, Portage, paediatricians, nursery providers, etc.) regularly meet to discuss support for families on their caseload. The team has carried out joint training (on legal issues, developing appropriate outcomes, and working in partnership in the early years) and worked together on planning and developing processes.
The local information templates have been made suitable for use with an Early Years population. The system is set up so that a member of the Portage team helps families to complete the paperwork.
What is the impact?
By building close links with Early Years providers and providing them with the skills to identify children with additional needs the service has a clear idea of all the children in its area who are likely to need which support, so they are able to plan what support is likely to be needed in future. For example, if a group of children with potential autistic spectrum conditions are identified in a certain area, the service would plan ahead so that there is sufficient supported provision in that area or consider if they need a new resource there. Families of children with SEND are engaged in the system earlier and the team can consider the future potential educational impact of their child’s needs and to build up links with relevant teams. This ensure that families are provided with the support they need as early as possible. Children with SEND are now entering primary school with an appropriate plan in place, rather than being referred at a later stage when difficulties become more challenging to address.
The local team are now looking to extend the training and information sharing up the age range, so they are intervening as early as possible with children of all ages.
Cheshire East Council has recently launched a SEND Youth Forum in the North and South of the Borough aimed at promoting the voice of SEND children and young people. Already young people have begun to develop a training package for professionals from the perspective of a young person on how to deal with/work with young people that have additional needs and/or ill mental health. In the future participants will become a key part of positive change within the Local Authority, giving views and ideas about preparing for adulthood, EHCPs and working with priority leads in the Children and Young People’s Trust Board to help review and amend the Children and Young People’s Plan ready for relaunch in 2019. Additionally, the Participation team are delivering a series of training events to employees that work with SEND children and young people ensuring coproduction principles and participation is embedding across the local authority.