The group was formed in 1991 following parents' requests to give all children the opportunity to play and learn together. We aim to help children understand and accept each other's differences and to enable them through play to reach their full potential. We feel that it is important for all children to have positive role models to enrich their learning experience, our nursery offers a stimulating and nurturing environment, with fully trained and experienced staff.
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. All of our children here at Stepping Stones are respected and valued. Our parents of children without disabilities have found their children are more compassionate and understanding of those who are different in the world. Many parents have reported that our ethos of being fully inclusive has carried on throughout the child's life.
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. We have parents on our committee, and we take our lead from them. 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 2-5 years in our fully integrated nursery and our summer holiday respite scheme. We are open five days a week operating school term hours 9.30 - 2.30. Children have full day care depending on the child's individual needs and parental needs. All of our children are given a key person along with a key buddy, 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 use specialist equipment to help support children who need it e.g. standing frames, walkers etc. We follow the Foundation Stage as required by Ofsted and we assist with the EHCP process with One Planning and Support Plans.
Our children's needs are varied and half of our children are mainstream. We also have children with physical disabilities, 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. Parents have informed the difference it has made at home that their child is able to communicate using simple signs. We also use PECS (picture exchange communication system) to enable our children to make choices and to state their needs. We have specialist training to meet the individual needs of the child if and when needed, so staff can tube feed, give medication and care for children with catheters, stomas and oxygen.
Mainstream preschool children also benefit hugely from our total communication environment with an emphasis on inclusion, sensory play, modelling, exploration and engagement. Our ethos is to create an environment enabling all children to enjoy developing to their full potential. Mainstream children learn to be non-judgemental and accepting of those with differences. Many of our mainstream children have support needs related to their social circumstances.
© 2017 Stepping Stones Play and Learn. Registered Charity 1033539.
Stepping Stones Play and Learn Group,
Wilson Marriage Centre,
Barrack St, Colchester CO1 2LR