Taunton Opportunity Group

Meeting the Children's Needs

Our experience of supporting many children with a range of special and/or medical needs means that we are very skilled in meeting the individual needs of all the children.

Flexible Admission Arrangements

We are extremely flexible over how children start at TOG and have learnt that the best way to ensure children settle well is to work closely with parents. Some parents stay for several sessions before leaving their Son or Daughter with us whereas others may just stay for one or two sessions. What is important is that parents feel confident about leaving their children with us.

Key Persons

Soon after your child starts at TOG, you will be given a key Person who will build a close relationship with your child. The Key Person’s role is to greet and help settle their key children. They are also responsible for keeping records and observations as well as keeping parents involved and up to date with their child’s progress. Ultimately, our aim at TOG is for children to be confident at relating to all key adults in the group but the Key Person's role remains an important first contact for families.

Planning to meet Children’s Needs

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) covers the period of children’s development from birth until the end of their reception year in school. This provides a framework for us to use so that we can ensure your children are receiving rich and stimulating learning experiences. Key Persons plan the weekly activities based on their knowledge of appropriate activities and their knowledge of each child’s individual interests and their next steps in their development. Assessment is an ongoing feature of the EYFS and is done through a cycle of observations and monitoring children’s progress.

First Steps

When children start at TOG, Key Persons spend the first half term settling the children and building up an understanding of what the children can do what they enjoy and where they need support.  This will be done through written observations, discussions with Parents and shared information from home, an important part of this initial information gathering. You will also be asked to complete a communication profile or other questionnaire to help with this.

Developing a Child’s Special Educational Needs Support Plan

Once a clear picture of each child’s achievements and needs has been gathered, Key Persons develop an Special Educational Needs Support Plan, (SEN Support Plan), for each of their Key Children.

An SEN Support Plan sets out what a child can already do, what they may need support to develop next and how that will be achieved. The Key Person then sets three clear targets which will be worked on along with your child’s therapists care plans, until the SEN Support Plan is reviewed. SEN Support Plans are generally reviewed once a term but can be reviewed more often if the children achieve their targets before the review date.

We work closely with the Parents and value their views as they know their child best.  We then agree the targets to be worked and write the SEN Support Plan.

2½ Year Check

2½ year old checks are now a statutory requirement and give a brief summary of children’s achievements and needs in the three prime areas of children’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development. In addition, settings also need to report on how children learn through the characteristics of effective learning.

There is no set date when these checks need to be completed, other than that it must be before a child has their third birthday. At TOG, we feel they are best completed after a child has been attending for at least a term so that we can be sure we know the children well.

Key Persons write the reports and then arrange a time to share them with parents and will add in additional information that parents want to give.

Communication Profile

A Communication profile is a form that we ask parents to complete when their child starts at TOG. This helps the staff to understand how your child communicates their needs, likes or dislikes, through non verbal or limited communication. This may be by eye pointing, body language, sounds, facial expressions, pointing or other movements as well as words.

We use a Somerset Total Communication approach at TOG, including photo/symbols, signing, Big Mac, PECs(picture exchange), switches and objects.

Medical Needs

If your child has medical needs then please be assured that we will take the greatest care in looking after your child and in ensuring that his/her medical needs are met. We have a lot of experience in looking after children with very complex medical needs as well as epilepsy, asthma and food allergies. We have also experienced Gastrostomy, Ileostomy, Tracheostomy and Catherisation.

Once we know that a child has complex medical needs, we work closely with Parents and the Community Nursing Team to make sure that any necessary staff training is provided. We also draw up a Medical Care Plan with parents and professionals involved with the child, which everyone at TOG will then implement and follow. We are happy to alert parents prior to sessions if there are any reported illnesses or infections, please speak to your Key Person if you would like to know more information in advance.

Medicine

Short Term Medicine

Generally, if a child is unwell then he/she should be cared for at home, however if your child needs a dose of medicine, e.g. antibiotics, during his/her session at TOG then please ask your Key Person for a medicine consent form.

Long Term Medicine

When a child needs medication every day, or has emergency medication on site then this is written into a Medical Care Plan and forms are available for this. Any long term or emergency medication is generally kept in the office and again, staff sign a form, recording when the medicine was given. Parents need to sign this at the end of every session.

MAISEY

This is Somerset’s Multi Agency approach to ensuring that children, whose needs have been recognised as being special, receive the appropriate information and services relevant to them. In effect, it works like a tracking system where all the children are discussed briefly on a termly basis.

Parents are asked to sign a consent form for their child to be on MAISEY and will then be given a Lead Professional who parents can contact if they want any issues raised. Similarly, the lead professional will contact parents if new services or suggestions for next steps are recommended by the MAISEY meeting.

Family Service Planning Meetings

As so many children are discussed at MAISEY they are not meetings which parents attend. Instead, Family Service Plan Meetings can be arranged where parents have the opportunity to meet with everyone involved with their child. The meetings can address what is working well, what parents may like more support with and any actions needed. These are often held every 3-6months up until school entry plan meetings which are held in the summer term prior to children starting school.

Portage

This is a home visiting service supervised by the Educational Psychology Service and supported by trained portage workers who visit on a weekly basis for up to 4 terms. Portage provides individualised learning, play and communication support to children and their families, successfully working alongside parents to develop the children’s skills. Children need to be referred to this service and referral forms are available at TOG.

PERSCEY

This is a shortened, specialist portage project for children with social communication difficulties or a diagnosis of Autism. It lasts for 9 weeks and includes 6 home visits and 3 visits to your child’s nursery or pre-school. Again, information on this is available at TOG.

Links with Pre-Schools and Nurseries.

It is good practice for settings which share children to work closely together to ensure a consistent approach to supporting children is in place.

TOG has built up good links with nurseries and pre-schools in the Taunton area. Key Prrsons often arrange visits and share children’s targets and ways of supporting children. Planning meetings can be arranged where we get together to share joint targets or link books can be set up which go between home and both settings.

Pre-School Entry Meetings

All children that come to TOG will have a Pre-School planning meeting, with the parents and any professionals involved.

When a child is already at TOG and is about to start a local pre-school or nursery then we arrange pre-school meetings so that we can share information and ensure that any training or equipment needs can be planned for.

These meetings identify who is involved with the child, their strengths, needs and any actions required. They can also be used to identify if any additional funding is needed to ensure that your child is supported well in the new pre-school.

School Entry Planning Meetings

These meetings form a key part of the planning process for starting school. Once you have been allocated a school place for your child, your lead professional will arrange a date for you and the school to meet. Other professionals and your child’s key Person are also invited and the meeting tends to follow a set format of describing your child’s strengths and achievements, their needs and the actions required to ensure a smooth transition. Parents are central to these meetings and they provide a good opportunity for you to raise any concerns that you have about your child starting school. Once your child has made that successful move to school a review meeting is arranged during the Autumn Term. A small booklet about School Entry Planning is available at TOG.