- How does the setting know if a child will need extra help and what should families do if they think their child may have Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND)?
The Puzzle Centre nursery is open to any family with a child aged between two and five years old who has significant difficulties with their development of communication and interaction skills. We are specialists in early education and therapy for communication difficulties and autism. Applications are welcomed from any family who believes that we are able to meet their child’s needs. We are one of the only specialised early intervention centres in the UK providing a very high level of support, specialised education and training for children with autism and related difficulties, their families and practitioners working in other settings. We are run by a charitable trust and offer places at our specialist nursery to children following an assessment home visit after receipt of an application from parents. We also offer an outreach programme of support for children and families.
- How will staff in the setting support a child with SEND?
The Puzzle Centre multidisciplinary team of teachers and speech and language and occupational therapists and a psychologist all have specific qualifications and experience in the field of autism/learning and communication difficulties. We also employ special learning assistants and we work with a ratio of one adult for every child.
Expertise and Training of Staff:
- Staffed by a specially trained teacher, a speech and language therapist, paediatric occupational therapist and learning assistants who apply autism specific and language difficulty expertise and approaches using a communication based curriculum.
- All of our staff have had training in the SCERTS framework
- The majority of senior leadership team have had bespoke training from Emily Rubin co-founder of SCERTS framework.
- Staff have had training in PECS
- All staff have had safeguarding training
- The majority of staff are first aid trained.
- Training is provided either in house by specialist teachers or therapists or will be sort outside Puzzle if there is a need.
- For further details please ask to see our training plan
Puzzle Centre’s facilities to support children with autism and communication difficulties:
- A small group setting (no more than eight children) with a ratio of one adult to each child.
- Individual teaching and therapy with each child at every session following individually planned programmes.
- A highly structured session in a stimulating but uncluttered ‘low arousal’ environment.
- Clear language based themes for each session.
- Visual structure - use of pictures, symbols, gestures, signs and other visual aids to help understanding.
- Emphasis on learning communication and social skills, self-help skills and appropriate behaviour.
- An adapted foundation stage curriculum.
- Ongoing assessment and termly reviews of progress.
- Parental guidance and support – including regular workshop sessions, a comprehensive website, newsletters and home-school notebooks.
- Support to both homes and other settings and mainstream nurseries.
- Training workshops applicable to parents and professionals.
- A Library of helpful books and resources for people to borrow.
- Readymade resources that families can purchase to aid their child’s learning.
- How will the curriculum for the setting be matched to a child with SEND's needs?
Children with autism (ASD) or other communication difficulties need to have aspects of the curriculum presented to them in a way that takes account of their unique learning styles. This means, especially in the early years, that methods and approaches which may be appropriate for typically developing children will not necessarily help children with ASDs to access learning opportunities in the same way. Curriculum plans at the Puzzle Centre reflect a balance between the unique needs of each individual child and the broad and balanced requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. The environment at Puzzle Centre is organised to promote learning for young children who have complex communication difficulties by controlling the overall level of stimulation, adopting a communication based curriculum, pacing activities to teach attention and group learning skills and using each child’s particular interests to extend and develop their learning. Well established practice in the field of autism, communication and learning difficulties, special education and early childhood education is used to help each child to develop. We use a range of educational approaches, including the SCERTS educational programme (www.scerts.org), an evidence based practice to address the very particular needs of children with social communication and autism spectrum disorders. The National Autism Plan states that targeted interventions should begin as early as possible. Puzzle is committed to providing the earliest possible specialist intervention for children with social and communication difficulties. At the same time, Puzzle Centre enables children with autism spectrum disorders and other communication difficulties to access all aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage. It is the unique interplay between enabling children to access experiences and learning that all children should have whilst, alongside this, catering for their different and particular needs and learning styles, by using specialist methods and approaches, that distinguishes the curriculum and teaching approaches used at Puzzle from most other Early Years settings. The full range of curriculum areas appropriate for an early years setting will be offered. This means that we offer a curriculum which incorporates the Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum, with a particular emphasis in the 3 prime areas as well as the 4 specific areas.
The 3 prime areas are:
- Communication and Language
- Personal Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
The 4 specific areas are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
Alongside the seven areas of the Foundation Stage are four guiding themes which we incorporate into our curriculum planning to ensure that we address all of your child’s needs. These are:
- A unique child
- Positive relationships
- An enabling environment
- Learning and Development.
Curriculum plans at Puzzle reflects a balance between the unique needs of each individual child and the broad and balanced requirements of the Foundation curriculum. An environment that promotes learning for young children who have complex communication difficulties will be created by controlling the overall level of stimulation, adopting a communication based curriculum, pacing activities to teach attention and group learning skills and working from the child’s interests.
- How will staff work with families about how a child with SEND is doing and how to support a child's learning?
Puzzle Centre is organised so to optimise collaborative working practices with parents. Families are at the heart of our service and individual family differences and needs are respected and valued.
Parents are the first educators of their young children. Puzzle Centre aims to support this essential role and not supplant it. With regard to our children’s needs we have imbedded a ‘talk time’ at the end of each session where parents have time to hear what has happened during their child’s session and also a chance to discuss any changes etc.
We also aim to work alongside our parents through:
- An initial home visit
- Discussion with new families for initial target setting
- Termly Educational Planning Grid (EPG) reviews
- A home visit
- A visit to the child’s other setting.
- Working together to create an SEN support plan
- Working together in requesting assessment for an EHC plan/review of EHC plan
- Parents/carers can email members of the SLT
- We will endeavour to support families with meetings with outside agencies.
We operate an ‘Open door’ policy and parents are welcome to come and talk to us as soon as a concern or a celebratory moment arises.
- What support does the setting offer for a child with SEND's overall well-being?
Puzzle Centre is organised so to optimise collaborative working practices with parents. Families are at the heart of our service and individual family differences and needs are respected and valued. We incorporate a feedback session with parents or carers for around 15 minutes at the end of each child’s session with us. Parents receive a home visit or consultation session every term from one of our expert team. Parents also have a review meeting at the end of every term with the team member responsible for the child’s individual educational plan and goals. In addition, parents are invited to attend parent training workshops on a variety of topics each term. What support does the setting offer for a child with SEND's overall well-being? We want children to feel safe and happy in the absence of their parents, to recognise other adults as a source of help, friendship and authority and to be able to share, in whatever way they can, with parents the new learning experiences they have enjoyed at Puzzle Centre. Puzzle aims to provide a secure and caring environment that supports the children’s needs for a broad and balanced curriculum but within a low arousal environment. Through our planning of the Foundation Stage we aim to meet all individual children’s needs aided by our attention to differentiation which is informed through daily observations and on-going assessments. Each child has 1:1 support and is allocated a special learning assistant with whom they can build up a trusting relationship. However, at Puzzle the Key Person for every child is the Head of Centre: Kathryn Bowers. Puzzle Centre is committed to create an environment in which children are safe from any form of abuse. Any suspicion of abuse will be promptly and appropriately responded to. Our child protection policy sets out procedures which will be followed in the event of suspicion of abuse or allegations of abuse against members of staff. Parents are encouraged to read this policy as well as all other policies and procedures. The policy book can be found in the upstairs parent area. Kathryn Bowers is the designated officer for Safeguarding and any further questions, queries or concerns can be discussed with her. At Puzzle we work in close partnership with both parents and other settings and endeavour to build positive relationships. Safeguarding children’s welfare is paramount and all staff working directly with our children as well as our Trustee Board and senior management undergo safeguarding training.
- What specialist services and expertise are available at, or accessed by, the setting?
We also offer families with children aged up to eleven years old an outreach support assessment and home programme. We deliver regular training courses for parents and practitioners every term both at the centre and at outside locations across Buckinghamshire and beyond. Please see our website for further information. Our staff work closely with mainstream settings and also with primary special or mainstream schools our children move on to.
- What training have the staff supporting children with SEND had or are having?
Each member of staff receives regular training in teaching children with autism and communication difficulties.
- How will a child with SEND be included in activities outside the setting?
Activities outside the setting only occur with parents because of the nature of our children’s difficulties.
- How accessible is the setting's environment (indoors and outdoors)
Accessible for children with the particular difficulties that Puzzle Centre caters for, as described above. The nursery is all on one level and Puzzle Centre will do all it can to ensure any child who may have additional mobility difficulties can be accommodated.
- How will the staff prepare and support a child with SEND to join the setting or transfer to a new setting/school?
We have comprehensive and carefully planned procedures for children joining (see Arrival/Departure Policy in Prospectus) and moving on from our setting. Transition on to the child’s next school is planned along with the child’s next school and parents. Parents can purchase our own Transition to School booklet to give them guidance about helping their child move to their next school.
- How are the setting's resources allocated and matched to a child's Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities?
Our environment is uniquely adapted to match the specific needs of children with autism or with other difficulties with communication and interaction with other people. Please see ‘What Puzzle Does’ section in our Prospectus. We have three main teaching rooms including a soft play/sensory room, specialist sensory resources, specialist communication resources and a very wide range of high quality toys and other equipment. Our outside areas include a sensory garden and soft tarmac play area as well as a trampoline which caters for children’s sensory needs.
- How is the decision made about what type and how much support a child with SEND will receive?
Once a place is secured at our specialist nursery, every child will receive one to one adult/child support and a bespoke programme to address their particular special educational needs. Almost all of our children will have or be about to receive an EHC Plan (formerly Statement of SEN). This will set out the minimum support that needs to be in place for each child.
- How are parents involved at the setting?
Parents are the first educators of their young children. Puzzle Centre aims to support this essential role and not to supplant it. We aim to work in partnership with parents to help to develop their child’s full potential and to ensure continuity between home and pre-school. We will:
- make all new parents aware of the Puzzle Centre’s systems and policies.
- ensure that Educational Planning Grids are devised in consultation with parents.
- ensure that parents are informed on a regular basis about their child’s progress - including termly reviews of educational targets – involving a meeting between parent(s) and the Specialist Teacher or the Speech and Language Therapist.
- encourage parents to contribute using their own skills, knowledge or interests, to the activities of the group.
- give parents guidance, support and training, including workshop sessions.
- involve parents in shared record keeping about their child - both formally (in termly reviews) and informally on a daily basis, verbally and in the home/school booklet.
- ensure that all parents are fully informed in advance of meetings, workshops or other training.
- consult with families about the times of meetings to avoid excluding anyone.
- make known to all parents the systems for registering complaints, queries or suggestions.
- provide opportunities for parents to learn about the pre-school curriculum and the specialist methods and approaches to learning used at the Puzzle Centre.
- ensure regular communication between Puzzle Centre and parents by producing regular (at least half termly) newsletters and writing in home/school books at each session.
- Puzzle Centre is committed to create an environment in which children are safe from any form of abuse. Any suspicion of abuse will be promptly and appropriately responded to. Our child protection policy sets out procedures which will be followed in the event of suspicion of abuse or allegations of abuse against members of staff. Parents are encouraged to read this policy as well as all other policies and procedures. The policy book can be found in the little upstairs parent area. Kathryn Bowers is the designated officer for Safeguarding and any further questions, queries or concerns can be discussed with her.
- What future plans does your setting have for developing its SEND provision eg: training, facilities?
The Puzzle Centre has recently developed our Outreach Support Programme or Puzzle Assessment and Support Service (PASS) and is now offering it’s unique and pioneering service to families across the country (see PASS leaflet). We also continue to refine and develop our Training Courses for practitioners as well as parents. (See Training Leaflet). Our strategic plan includes ambitions to expand our centre’s facilities by acquiring new accommodation via a capital appeal.
- Which other Local Authorities/ Counties/ health providers do you have contracts with?
Children attend our centre from: Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and some North London boroughs. We have a NASS service agreement with Bucks CC to provide special education.