1. What is this programme trying to achieve?

The programme will run from 2018-20, and aims to improve access and inclusion for children with SEN and disabilities in the early years by increasing the confidence, knowledge and ability of the workforce. The programme will also seek to:

  • develop effective speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) pathways
  • improve the take up of the early years offer
  • support local authorities and partners to develop improved multi-agency strategies

2. Are parents involved?

The parental support element of the programme will be provided by Contact, through their Brighter Beginnings work. Over the course of the programme they will develop workshops for parents with a focus on early years education for children with special educational needs. The Brighter Beginnings parent workshops will take place across all 5 regions the programme is working in.

3. Where is this work taking place?

The EYSEND programme is providing support to early years settings, local authorities and parents in the following English regions:

  • North West
  • East Midlands
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire & Humberside
  • North East

4. Who is in the partnership and what are they doing?

The EYSEND programme is led by the Council for Disabled Children, and delivered in partnership with nasen, ICAN, the Communications Trust and Contact. Each of the partners will be providing training and/or support to local areas on the following topics:

  • nasen and I CAN are providing a combined introductory training day on whole setting approach to SEN and disability and the early identification of and response to SLCN.
  • nasen is also providing more detailed follow-up training for a smaller number of settings managers who want to specialise in a whole setting approach to SEN and disability.
  • I CAN is providing follow-up training, targeting settings managers who would like to develop a more detailed understanding of SLCN and how settings can respond.
  • The Communication Trust is providing in depth training for a small number of settings managers and other local representatives who want to contribute to the development of a local SLCN Pathway.
  • Contact is providing training sessions for parents across the five regions. This will be followed by more targeted training for settings managers. 
  • The Council for Disabled Children is providing the overall framework of action learning sets across the 5 regions; and providing support to local areas who want to develop their local offer to better reflect what provision settings are expected to make for young children with SEN and disabilities.

5. What is a regional action learning set?

A regional action learning set (ALS) is a meeting that brings together representatives from local areas across a region. This is not a one-off meeting; there are three regional ALSs per region over the 18 months of the programme, and they are designed to support local learning and development over this period.

The regional ALSs:

  • share challenges and solutions
  • support a self-review and action-planning approach
  • bring people together in local colleague groups and in professional groups, at different times over the day
  • provide opportunities for local representatives to reflect on their practice in a supportive environment   

Representatives are from different agencies and services, and bring different perspectives to the ALSs to support the sharing of evidence and ideas.

In between the regional ALSs we expect local representatives to meet locally to progress the action plan they have developed in a local Action Learning Set. There is extra support available to this work in some local areas.     

6. What is the extra support available to a local Action Learning Set for?

In each region, there is extra support for one area that wants to develop their approach to:

  • The identification of and a response to young children with speech, language and communication needs in settings
  • The development of a local speech, language and communication pathway
  • A whole setting approach to SEN and disability
  • Settings working in partnership with parents
  • The local offer and what settings are expected to provide for young children with SEN and disabilities

7. How can local areas sign up for additional support in one of the 5 areas of specialism?

Local areas can express interest in one of the five areas of specialism but, where there is interest from more than one area in the region, there are some considerations that will come into play:

  • Is there a local need for this work?
  • Is this area of work already identified as a priority in local action plans, for example following a written statement of action (following Ofsted/CQC inspection)?
  • Is there the capacity to take this work on?
  • For some specialisms, there will need to be a commitment to support local settings managers and others to take part in training programmes linked to that specialism.

8. What will this local Action Learning Set with specialist support look like?

Local support will look different for each of the specialisms, but all the specialist partners (CDC, ICAN, TCT, contact, nasen) will attend and support local meetings in between the regional ALSs. For some of the specialisms, there will be additional free training provided for settings managers and others in the local area.

We have called these local meetings local action learning sets. They will need to bring together locally those who:

  • have developed new skills and understanding through the training
  • represent different agencies in the early years
  • have operational responsibilities for SEN and disability in the  early years
  • have strategic responsibilities for SEN and disability in the  early years
  • represent other local interests: parent/carers, support services, IASS