Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The genesis of this blog, by the Educational Psychologist

Parents and professionals working together to make good plans for children with additional support needs in language and communication in Edinburgh. 

We all work hard to think about a child’s entrance to education into nursery and then transitioning to primary provision. There are so many options it is hard to work out how best to meet the child’s needs and make confident plans to support parents in their decisions.

A multi-disciplinary team have to work alongside the child and parents as they progress through nursery and try to predict how the child’s language and communication will progress but it is not an exact science.  The presumption of mainstream is heavily supported by the authority with staff in central services paying for speech and language therapists to focus in early years and primary settings alongside learning assistant support, training for all staff, working with social, voluntary and health sector to support families in the many manifestations of their child’s additional support needs.

There are varying degrees of certainty about how to meet children’s needs, varying levels of confidence in nursery and schools about how staff can support children and when anxious parents meet that mix of variables they frequently go for --- my child’s needs are special and therefore I am going to insist that the LA acknowledge that by placing my child in one of their specialist facilities.  Of course numbers of children will outstrip the places available and hard decisions have to be made. Edinburgh has invested more in their special provisions than any other authority. What has that meant?

Most importantly, I think we have acknowledged that children with language and communication difficulties are a varied group and we have been working with them all in mainstream provision all along. We have developed our understanding and support for these children in an exponential way.  Have we made a difference? Do parents and professionals know about the success we have had? Can we get the message of this planning part of the journey which is scary for parents (and some professionals) over in a new way. Hence the blog!!

Two sets of parents and the mainstream school their children will be attending have been asked to contribute to this blog.  These parents have been through this application process, both requesting language class placements for their children and they have both been refused.  Despite the refusal, we have sought to support these parents and the children during their transition to a mainstream school through professional meetings to organise the logistics of the support package.  We also met with parents individually as agencies, in formal meetings and transition meetings with school as for all children with additional support needs.

Written by Mrs Littlefair

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