Parents wanted a group where their child was not the only one with additional needs, and where staff had knowledge that enabled them to meet the individual needs of the children both mainstream and additional needs.
Our committee is made up of parents and interested people, and as parents have identified their own needs so the group has grown to meet them. Feedback from parents of both the mainstream children and the children with additional needs is very positive. We have learnt a great deal.
We do not follow a rigid plan and this has contributed towards the success of the group. It has always been parent led and services have developed and changed around the needs of our children and their families. Parents lives change as they have to meet the never ending challenges their child can present. It is vital we are flexible to be able to respond to those changes.
Our age range is from 0-18 years and we are open five days a week operating school hours. Children have sessional or full day care depending on the child's individual needs and parental needs. All of our children are given a key worker, so we have a high staff ratio each day to ensure all needs are met. We work with the outside agencies involved, e.g. Physiotherapists, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Specialist Health Visitor and early Years Education Staff. We follow the Foundation Stage as required by Ofsted, giving an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) when needed.
Our children's needs are varied and half of our children are mainstream. We also have children with physical disability, autism, various syndromes, children who have multi-sensory disability or are terminally ill. We have children who are visually impaired, who are hearing impaired and children who have delayed speech. Communication is very important so we teach all of our children to use Makaton signing to enable them to communicate with each other. We also use PECS (picture exchange communication system) to enable our children to make choices and to state their needs. We are able to tube feed, give medication and care for children with catheters or stomers.