240 INFANTS & YOUNG CHILDREN/JULY–SEPTEMBER 2016 DEVELOPMENT OF UNIVERSAL Meeting SEN (DfEE, 1997). Following this, SERVICES AND SEND POLICY the Special Educational Needs and Dis- ability Act (SENDA) (HMT, 2001) provided The provision of universal childcare and protection for children with SEND against nursery education for all young children discrimination and the right to education in younger than 5 years (including those at risk mainstream settings. The resulting SEN Code of developing SEND) along with the strength- of Practice (CoP; DfES, 2001) for education ening of parental responsibility has been pri- settings placed emphasis on the role of early oritized by successive English governments childhood practitioners to support families in over these 20 years. This is partially intended identifying children’s needs through observa- not only to allow women to join the work- tion and monitoring and required settings to force, but also to ensure that all children had appoint a special educational needs coordi- equal opportunities to succeed (Henricson, nator (SENCO) with overall responsibility for 2012). children with SEND. The SENCO is responsi- Funding for childcare was provided initially ble for ensuring that the setting collects and for all children aged 4 years (in 2000) and records all relevant background information 3 years (in 2005) of up to 15 hr per week about individual children with SEND, liaising to improve children’s language and cognition closely with parents and other profession- outcomes. In 2007, this funding was extended als when identifying children’s needs and to disadvantaged or at-risk 2-year-olds. There planning for intervention and support, and are currently proposals, under public consul- ensuring that effective intervention plans are tation, for children of working parents aged implemented for children with SEND. 3 and 4 to receive 30 hr of funded childcare Further to this, Together From the Start per week. The provision of a range of high- (DfES/DH, 2003) and the Early Support Pro- quality early childhood provision became a gramme (DfES, 2004b) focused on coor- key government and Local Authority (LA) tar- dinated services for children younger than get. The introduction of the Every Child Mat- 3 years and their families through children’s ters [ECM] (Department for Education and centers. The aim was to: Skills (DfES), 2004a) and the r Children Act promote effective EI services for meeting 2004 (birth to 18 years) aimed to ensure that the needs of very young children with all children had the opportunity to be healthy, disabilities and their families; r stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive identify and promote existing good ex- contribution to community and society, and amples of effective partnership working; achieve economic well-being. and r The UK SEND policy development has also support the strategic development of ser- been influenced by international human rights vices for this population. agendas and the need to reduce the social Full participation and equality of opportu- cost of failing to provide sufficient support to nity for children with disabilities were explic- children with SEND early enough to improve itly stated in line with New Labour’s social their future success and life chances. There- cohesion agenda as shown below: fore, in line with the international agenda of United Nations Convention on the Rights Effective early intervention and support can pro- duce improvements in children’s health, social and of the Child (United Nations [UN] General cognitive development and help tackle some of the Assembly, 1989) and the children’s rights and many social and physical barriers families of dis- inclusion agenda of the Salamanca Statement abled children face to full participation in society. on Special Educational Needs (United Nations (DfES/DOH, 2003, p. 4) Educational Scientific and Cultural Organiza- tion [UNESCO], 1994), New Labour produced Although originally focusing on children the Green Paper Excellence for All Children: from birth to 3 years of age, this range was
Early Childhood Inclusion in the United Kingdom 241 extended to 5 years of age in 2007–2008. Early Years Foundation Stage (DfE, 2014) Removing Barriers to Achievement (DfES, provides standards for the learning, develop- 2004c) set the agenda for children with SEND ment, and care of children from birth to 5 within the Every Child Matters (ECM) policy years. All schools and early childhood set- agenda, focusing on EI and professional train- tings registered with OFSTED (England’s reg- ing and monitoring of children’s progress. Fur- ulatory and inspection body for education ther to this, the Childcare Act 2006 stipulated settings) must follow the early years foun- that LAs must ensure sufficient provision for dation stage (EYFS), including childminders, children with SEND to comply with parental preschools, nurseries, and school reception childcare needs. classes. The EYFS stipulates that children’s learning and development is monitored un- Policy reform der three prime areas of learning (personal, Currently in England, the rights of young social, and emotional development; physical children (aged birth to 5) with develop- development; and communication and lan- mental delays and disabilities are embodied guage) underpinned by specific areas of liter- within The Special Educational Needs and acy, mathematics, understanding the world, Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years and expressive arts and design. Working To- (DfE/DOH, 2014) (CoP) and Part 3 of the gether to Safeguard Children (DfE, 2015) Children and Families Act (Department for specifies the welfare requirements under the Education/Department for Business, Innova- EFYS for early childhood settings. It requires tion and Skills/Department for Work and staff to undertake safeguarding and child pro- Pensions/Department of Health/Ministry of tection training and designate a practitioner Justice, 2014), both of which relate to pro- as responsible for safeguarding within the vision for children with SEND that have been setting. informed by successive EI reports. The Chil- There is also a responsibility of LAs to in- dren and Families Act and CoP are corner- clude funding arrangements for early years’ stones of recent SEND reforms, the aspiration education, and what early childhood care and for which was the equal participation of chil- education providers are expected to offer to dren, young people and their parents in deci- children with SEND and their families. Oper- sions being made about local services, and a ating as an organizing document for services focus on improving education and outcomes to work together is a new coordinated assess- for children and young people. The Code ment process and Education, Health and Care (section 5.1) states that all children are en- plan has been developed to organize services titled to an education that enables them to for children with more complex needs. achieve the best possible educational and There is also new Early Intervention Foun- other outcomes. dation (http://www.eif.org.uk/), whose mis- Early childhood providers must have regard sion is to champion and support the effec- for the revised CoP and ensure that they also tive use of EI to address the root causes of comply with associated duties in the: social problems for children from concep- r Equality Act (GB, 2010); tion to early adulthood. Their early childhood r Early Years Foundation Stage (Depart- work focuses on parent–child relationships ment for Education (DfE), 2014); and in the home. The EIF was established fol- r Working Together to Safeguard Children. lowing an independent report (Allen, 2011) (DfE, 2015) with an aim of providing a source of indepen- The Equality Act (2010) consolidated and dent, assessment, advice, and advocacy on EI. replaced previous legislation in relation to The overall aim was to “ . . . break[ing] the disability, gender, and race discrimination, inter-generational cycles of dysfunction . . . providing clear guidelines to early childhood resulting from social disruption, broken fami- settings about inclusion and diversity. The lies and unmet human potential” (Allen, 2013,
242 INFANTS & YOUNG CHILDREN/JULY–SEPTEMBER 2016 p. 2). The EIF has established an evidence base data are not readily available on the propor- of effective EI programs and a network of tions of children with SEND attending differ- professionals and members of communities ent types of early care and education, Bercow and the general public who advocate for EI. (2008) found that for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) CURRENT ECI PRACTICES prevalence is 6%–8% of all children with 1% of these having long-term persistent disorders Key to the function of the new CoP is that require specialist services and education, parental choice about the type of early care and 50% of children living in socially disadvan- and education provision their child attends. taged areas having poor receptive language Currently, parents can choose from a range of skills on entry to the extent that they un- different types of provision for their child all derstood little of what was said to them by of which operate under the same EYFS frame- adults. Blackburn (2014) found that the num- work and SEND CoP. These include private, ber of children with SLCN attending early care voluntary, and independent (PVI) settings: and education settings was 12.5% of all chil- r home-based childminders; dren and that a small number of these (7%) r community-based preschool provision; attended special education settings with the r private day nurseries; and remainder attending mainstream early child- r preschools/nurseries located in Chil- hood settings. dren’s Centres. Professional responsibility of early child- Or, LA maintained settings: hood practitioners who work with young chil- r LA maintained nursery schools; dren is to focus on EI, joined-up working with r Special education provision (either LA other professionals, and parent engagement. maintained or managed/funded by chari- Practitioners are also required to undertake ties). an assessment of 2-year-olds’ learning and de- The level of qualifications and postexpe- velopment jointly with Health Visitors with a rience training held by staff in early child- summary of progress against the three prime hood settings varies widely. Qualifications in areas of learning being provided to parents England range from Level 1 (entry level) to through the Healthy Child Programme run by Level 8 (doctorate level) with “A” level being Health Visitors (Department for Children and equivalent to Level 3 and qualified teacher Families (DCSF/Department of Health (DOH), status requiring a postgraduate qualification 2008). equivalent to Level 7. In theory, parents can choose where their Characteristics of early childhood child is educated. In practice, for children inclusion with developmental delays that are consid- In terms of adult-to-child ratios, the EYFS ered short-term and transient, it may be rec- (DfE, 2014) stipulates the following for main- ommended by LAs, education, and health care stream early care and education providers: r professionals that children attend combined 1:3 for children under the age of 2 years— early care and education placements, for ex- one member of staff must hold a Level 3 ample, 2 days per week at a specialist lan- qualification. r guage center and 3 days at a mainstream 1:4 for children aged 2—one member of early care and education provider. For chil- staff must hold a Level 3 qualification. r dren with complex SEND (e.g., children who 1:8 for children aged 3 or 1: 13 where a have coexisting conditions such as autism and practitioner with a Level 6 qualification is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or se- working directly with children. vere autism), special education is likely to be This applies to all mainstream early care recommended. and education providers except for LA main- Approximately 18% of all children in tained nursery classes for children aged England have SEND (DfE, 2014). Although 3–5 years where the adult–child ratio is 1:13.
Early Childhood Inclusion in the United Kingdom 243 Typical class/group sizes for mainstream set- package offered to children within their early tings are between 15 and 25 children and care and education setting. This means that in special education settings between 6 and communication between early childhood 8 children. The qualifications of profession- practitioners and other professionals is much als working in early childhood settings have more immediate and proximal in special edu- been identified as one of the key indicators cation settings than mainstream settings and for quality of early childhood provision in can mean that practitioners in mainstream the United Kingdom. Currently, PVI settings early care and education settings do not nec- can be led by early childhood practitioners essarily have access to specialist knowledge with national vocational qualifications at Level and support strategies to enrich their knowl- 3, while maintained, and special education edge and curriculum in the same way that provision must be led by a qualified teacher practitioners in special education settings do. with postgraduate qualifications. A fundamen- Tools used to monitor children’s progress tal difference between these qualifications is and success also vary from mainstream to spe- the focus on child development that is inher- cial early education. For example in PVI set- ent in vocational qualifications but has histor- tings, the EYFS (DfE, 2014) is used in com- ically been absent from teacher qualifications bination with children’s learning journeys or where the focus has been on delivery of a pre- speech and language checklists to measure scribed National Curriculum (either primary developmental progress. In special educa- or secondary). tion settings, a range of specialist materials In special education settings, there is no are used for this purpose including specialist statutory adult–child ratio other than the ratio speech and language tools and Early Support stipulated for LA maintained settings, which materials in combination with the EYFS (DfE, applies to the majority of special education 2014). settings. However, Blackburn (2014) found In addition, Blackburn (2014) found that in that the ratio in special education was 1:2 or special education settings, activities offered 1:3. This was necessary to support children’s to children with developmental delays and care and hygiene needs and was in all cases difficulties were planned for small groups of led by a qualified teacher with a postgraduate children (3–5 children) or 1:1 adult/child ac- qualification and in most cases additional pos- tivities. The activities were closely matched texperience training (i.e., in-service training) to children’s developmental age, of short du- in augmentative and assistive communication ration, focused on communication and cog- methods as well as intensive interaction. In- nition, and individualized for children’s indi- tensive interaction is an approach to teaching vidual needs. By contrast, activities planned the prespeech fundamentals of communica- by mainstream practitioners were for large tion (such as giving attention to another per- groups (five or more children) much broader son, sharing attention, taking turns, sharing in context focused on a range of learning out- eye contact) to children and adults who have comes such as social and emotional or com- severe learning difficulties and/or autism, and munication and language, of longer duration who are still at an early stage of communica- and planned for broad age categories, gener- tion development. ally birth to 2, 3–5, or 2–5. Practitioners in spe- In terms of working with other profes- cial education generally had a wider range of sionals, PVI settings are dependent upon pedagogical strategies and organized a higher LA SENCOs to assess and support children’s number of structured adult-led activities com- developmental delays and disabilities and pared with child-led/initiated play activities refer children to other professionals such than mainstream practitioners. Activities or- as speech and language therapists and edu- ganized in mainstream settings were more cational psychologists. In special education likely to child-led or child-initiated than in spe- settings, these services are part of the support cialist settings. However, activities in special
244 INFANTS & YOUNG CHILDREN/JULY–SEPTEMBER 2016 education settings were more likely to be egy was to involve parents and families in ac- planned for individual children and therefore tivities within the setting such as “messy play” more (individual) child-centered. All of this activities and training to use assistive and aug- had an effect on children’s communicative in- mentative communication systems. teractions and inclusion in activities. For example, the number of child commu- CHALLENGES AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS nicative initiations was higher in mainstream settings than in specialist settings. In both According to Robertson and Messenger mainstream and specialist settings, fewer (2010), the most significant challenges for the peer interactions were observed in structured United Kingdom in delivering inclusive early activities than in unstructured activities, as childhood provision for children with disabil- there were more opportunities for them to ities have been: r occur during unstructured activities. Adult maintaining effective communication initiations were also higher in structured with all parties involved, activities than in mainstream settings, but not r developing a clear understanding of roles noticeably different between mainstream and and responsibilities between profession- specialist settings for unstructured activities. als and families, The number of adult initiations did not appear r maintaining a high level of professional to relate to the adult–child ratio in settings or specialism, children’s age, although children’s cognition r developing trust between families and inevitably was influential. In addition, adults professionals and interprofessionally, and r allowed more time for children’s responses empowering parents and families. in specialist settings before they initiated Currently qualifications for the early child- another interaction. In mainstream settings, hood workforce are undergoing change with the focus was on providing a language-rich the introduction of a new Early Years Teacher environment, which aimed to promote all qualification (which includes a focus on child aspects of development. In specialist settings, development from birth to 5) and Early activities were closely targeted to children’s Years Educator (national vocational qualifi- individual education plans with a focus on cation level 3). These are part of a Govern- particular aspects of speech, language and ment policy drive to improve quality for early communication, and cognition, such as in- childhood provision and reduce the number tention to communication, social interaction, of children entering compulsory education at vocabulary, speech sounds, or grammar. The the age of 5 years who are identified with influence of smaller class/group sizes and SEND. There are as yet no distinctive qual- higher adult–child ratios in special education ifications for professionals who work with settings meant that there were more adults for young children with complex needs, for ex- children to interact and communicate with. ample, early childhood intervention degrees Children who were learning English as an ad- at either undergraduate or postgraduate level, ditional language were observed to be passive although there are qualifications that include participants in large-group adult-led activities. or focus on SEND to varying degrees, some of In terms of working with families, Black- which relate to particular conditions such as burn (2014) found that both mainstream and autism. This is an area for future development special early care and education settings en- as a specific ECI qualification with a focus on deavored to work in an empowering way with interprofessional relationships, working and parents by, for example, involving parents communicating with families, and specialist in children’s individual plans and the use of approaches to monitoring and assessment of home-school diaries as well as sharing support children’s progress has the potential to ad- strategies from setting to home. However, in dress the concerns raised (e.g., Pretis, 2006; special education settings, an additional strat- Robertson & Messenger, 2010) as well as
Early Childhood Inclusion in the United Kingdom 245 reduce the variability in ECI reported by Black- clusion for all children, and promoting im- burn (2014). Alongside this specialist, provi- proved parental choice in relation to early sion for children with complex needs could childhood provision by raising the qualifica- be enhanced to include the relationship-based tions and status of professionals working in approaches currently employed at the Cham- all early childhood settings would be a worth- pion Centre in New Zealand, where fami- while goal. Indeed, in line with international lies are involved in therapeutic approaches inclusion and disability agendas and goals in to care and education (see Blackburn, 2015). relation to human rights, it is simply the right Finally, a focus on empowering parents and thing to do for children, families, and society families and ECI as a means to enhancing (Brown & Guralnick, 2012; World Health Or- young children’s future potential, ensuring in- ganization & UNICEF, 2012). REFERENCES Allen, G. (2011). Early intervention: Smart investment, Department for Education (DfE)/Department for Busi- massive savings. The second independent report to ness, Innovation and Skills/Department for Work Her Majesty’s government. London, UK: HM Gov- and Pensions (DWP)/Department of Health (DOH)/ ernment. Ministry of Justice. (2014). Children and Families Allen, G. (March 2013). A foundation for change Chil- Act. Retrieved August 13, 2015, from http://www. dren’s Centre Leader Reader. Vol II. Retrieved May legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/6/contents/enacted 10, 2016 from http://www.ccleaderreader.com/ Department for Education (DfE)/Department of Health attachments/File/printCCLRmar2013_%281%29 (DOH). (2014). Special educational needs (SEN) .pdf code of practice: Statutory guidance for or- Bercow, J. (2008). The Bercow report. A review of ser- ganisations who work with and support chil- vices for children and young people (0–19) with dren and young people with SEN. Retrieved 26 speech, language and communication needs. Not- April 2016 from https://www.gov.uk/government/ tingham, UK: Department of Children, Schools and publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25 Families. Department for Education and Employment (DfEE). Blackburn, C. (2014). The policy-to practice context to (1997). Excellence for all children: Meeting special the delays and difficulties in the acquisition of educational needs. London, UK: HMSO. speech, language and communication in the first Department for Education and Skills (DfES). (2001). Spe- five years. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Birmingham cial educational needs code of practice. Notting- City University, Birmingham, UK. ham, UK: DfES Publications. Blackburn, C. (2015). Relationship-based early inter- Department for Education and Skills (DfES). (2004a). Ev- vention services for children with complex needs: ery child matters change for children. Nottingham, Lessons from New Zealand. Retrieved January 1, UK: DfES Publications. 2015, from http://www.wcmt.org.uk/users/carolyn Department for Education and Skills (DfES). (2004b). blackburn2015 Early support programme family pack and Brown, S. E., & Guralnick, M. J. (2012). International hu- professional guidance. Nottingham, UK: DfES man rights to early intervention for infants and young Publications. children with disabilities. Infants & Young Children, Department for Education and Skills (DfES). (2004c). Re- 25, 270–285. moving barriers to achievement: The government’s Department for Children and Families (DCSF)/ strategy for SEN. Nottingham, UK: DfES Publications. Department of Health (DOH). (2008). The child Department for Education and Skills (DfES)/Department health promotion programme pregnancy and the of Health (DOH). (2003). Together from the start: first five years of life. London, UK: Department of Practical guidance for professionals working with Health. disabled children (birth to third birthday) and Department for Education (DfE). (2014). Statutory their families. Nottingham, UK: DfES Publications. Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Great Britain (GB) (2010). The Equality Act. London, UK: Retrieved August 13, 2015, from http://www. The Stationery Office. Retrieved 26 April 2016 from foundationyears.org.uk/eyfs-2014/ http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/ Department for Education (DfE). (2015). Working To- contents gether to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter- Guralnick, M., & Albertini, G. (2006). Early intervention in agency working to safeguard and promote the wel- an international perspective. Journal of Policy and fare of children. London, UK: Author. Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 3(1), 1–2.
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