Portsmouth City Council hosted the first award ceremony for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCo's) from early years settings across the city at The Guildhall yesterday.
The 25 recipients of the award, including staff from day nurseries, pre-schools and a childminder, were the first to receive the Department of Education's accreditation after more than twelve weeks of training and assignments aimed at supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
After a trial in Liverpool, Portsmouth is one of the early adopters of the scheme which gives new or existing SENCo's a level 3/ 4 qualification and boosts the profile of this important early years role to make sure children with additional learning needs get the right support from the earliest opportunity. All early years providers are required to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with SEND and to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care.
Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Education at Portsmouth City Council, said: "It was a real pleasure to be at the awards ceremony and to be able to celebrate the achievements of those who are taking on this important role. The Early Years SENCo Award has inspired SENCo’s from across the city and their dedication and enthusiasm is fantastic. Portsmouth is recognised widely for its excellent SEND services and it is vital that children who need those services can access them from a very early age, so I am delighted that we can continue to grow the skills needed to support them."
Sue Forsyth, Top Tots area manager and SENCo said: "The award has built my confidence in being a nursery SENCo and it has been beneficial to unpick the code of practice. As a result there has been a positive impact on our inclusive practice to support our children to do well and progress."
Vicky George, Little Learners manager and SENCo, said: "I now have a better understanding of the behind the scenes work of other practitioners and professionals such as EMAS, SALT and parents, beyond the contact I may have with them in my setting. This has created an accessible network of support for Early Years SENCOs. We have a clearer understanding of what the children's needs are. This is having a positive impact on the children who are having better outcomes on their achievements and targets."
Information for children and young people aged 0 - 25 with SEND, and their parents and carers can be found on the Portsmouth SEND Local Offer website