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Special Educational Needs Policy Translatable Version



“We, the Staff and Governors of RAVENSCROFT NURSERY SCHOOL, believe that nursery education is a very valuable and important experience for all children


We see it as an extension to and compliment of the love and care already experienced by the child at home.

Therefore it is important to maintain a close relationship between you the parent, and the staff for the benefit of your child.


Each child is an individual with different needs. Our awareness of this allows us to organise a varied curriculum, which will enable all the children in our care to reach their full potential.


We aim to provide a safe, secure, interesting and challenging learning environment for each child to become increasingly independent, self confident and a happy individual.”


This policy is for all members of the school community – staff, pupils and parents.




The main thrust of this policy is to meet the needs of all children in Ravenscroft Nursery School with Special Educational Needs /Disability /Additional Educational Needs (SEN/Dis/AEN).


This policy has been developed within the current context of legislation and policy in SEN/Dis/AEN:-


  • The Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1996
  • The Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs (Operative date; 1st September 1998)
  • Special Educational Needs and Disability (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 (referred to as SENDO) which aims to:
    • Introduce disability discrimination law to the education sector in northern Ireland
    • Strengthen the rights of children with Special educational needs to be educated in mainstream education
    • Place a ‘duty on schools to work towards making school life more accessible to disabled pupils for example, in terms of premises, the curriculum and written information’

(Operative date: 1st September 2005)


  • The Supplement to the Code of Practice on the Identification of Special Educational Needs 2005
  • Guidance for Schools: Recording Children with Special Educational Needs 2005
  • Disability Discrimination Code of Practice for Schools 2006
  • ‘Supporting Pupils with Medication Needs’ , Guidance Document from the Department of Education and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety 2008
  • Provisional Criteria for Initiating Statutory Assessments of Special Educational Need and making Statements of Special Educational Need. (Operative date: 1st September 2009)
  • Good Practice Guidelines (Operative date: 1st September 2009)


This policy also takes cognisance of the Every School a Good School – The Way Forward for SEN and Inclusion proposals (2009) which introduces the concept of Additional Educational Needs (AEN).




Ravenscroft Nursery School serves children from the East Belfast area. The premises consist of an entrance hall, office, 2 classrooms (each with it’s own quiet room and toilet area), a Parent’s/Staff room, a kitchen and a school meals kitchen. There is a large outdoor play area. The school is well resourced.

The school was rebuilt in 2009.




Ravenscroft Nursery School aims to provide a child centred pre-school experience featuring developmentally appropriate learning in a positive, fun, friendly and flexible environment in which all children are encouraged to reach their full potential as members of a happy, caring community.


The aims of Ravenscroft Nursery School are founded on the belief that:


  • Childhood is not merely a preparation for adulthood but is a valid and important point of life
  • Every child is a unique individual with his/her own needs
  • Learning for young children is holistic and not separated into subjects
  • Children have a right to develop physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially, and morally to their full potential
  • Children learn through first hand experiences using their senses to develop an understanding of their world
  • Children need opportunity and space to explore their environment.
  • Play is central to a child’s learning process; play is the business of childhood
  • What each child can do rather than what they cannot do is the starting point in their education




  • To reach high levels of achievement for all
  • To be an inclusive school
  • To ensure the identification of all pupils requiring SEN/Dis/AEN provision as early as possible
  • To meet individual needs through a wide range of provision
  • To attain high levels of satisfaction and participation from pupils, parent and carers
  • To share a common vision and understanding with all stakeholders
  • To provide curriculum access for all
  • To work towards inclusion in partnership with other agencies and schools
  • To achieve a level of staff expertise to meet pupil need


We recognise that many pupils will have special needs at some time during their school life. In implementing this policy, we believe pupils will be helped to overcome their difficulties.



The school in line with the code of practice for special educational needs will ensure that the fundamental principles of the code of practice are followed which are that:-


· The needs of all pupils who may experience learning difficulties during their school careers must be addressed; the Code recognises that there is a continuum of needs and a continuum of provision which may be made in a variety of forms;


· Children with SEN/Dis/AEN require the greatest possible access to a broad and balanced education, including the Northern Ireland Curriculum;



· The needs of most pupils will be met in mainstream schools, and without a statutory assessment or a statement. Children with special educational needs, including those with statements, should, wherever appropriate and taking into account the wishes of their parents, be educated alongside their peers in mainstream schools



The school will work in Partnership with Parents.

The school will “Listen to and act upon the voice of the child” (United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child).

The school will do all in its power to ensure each child reaches full potential.



As outlined in the 1996 Order (and summarised in para 1.4 of the code of practice)


A pupil is regarded as having special educational needs if he/she has a learning difficulty, which calls for special educational provision to be made for him/her. A child has a ‘learning difficulty’ if:

· He/she has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of his/her age;

· He/she has a disability which either prevents or hinders him/her from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of his/her age in ordinary schools; or

· He/she has not attained the lower limit of compulsory school age and is, or would be if special educational provision were not made for him/her, likely to fall within either of the previous two paragraphs when he/she is of compulsory age.

Definition of Disability


SENDO 2005:

  • defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out day-to-day activities.


  • states that the definition does not include any impairment resulting from or consisting of a mental illness, unless that illness is a clinically well-recognised illness. A clinically well- recognised illness is one that is recognised by a respected body of medical opinion.


The same definitions are used in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.



These definitions may include pupils with cerebral palsy, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, autism, depression and ME. The list is not definitive.


The school will work with parents, the Educational Board and outside agencies in order to provide reasonable adjustments and relevant and purposeful measures that it may be able to provide for a pupil with a disability.


Categories of Special Educational Needs

The Department of Education has identified seven ‘areas’ of Special Educational Need. Within each area there are a number of SEN categories which are as follows:-


1 Cognitive and Learning

a) Dyslexia/SpLd (DYL)

b) Dyscalculia

c) Dyspraxia

d) Mild Learning Difficulties (MILD)

e) Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

f) Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD)

g) Profound and Multiple Learning difficulties (PMLD)

h) Unspecified (U)


2 Social, Emotional and Behavioural




3 Communication and Interaction

a) Speech and Language Difficulties (SL)

b) Autism (AUT)

c) Aspergers (ASP)


4 Sensory

a) Severe/profound hearing loss (SPHL)

b) Mild/moderate hearing loss (MMHL)

c) Blind (BD)

d) Partially sighted (PS)

e) Multi-sensory Impairment (MSI)


5 Physical

a) Cerebral Palsy (CP)

b) Spina bifida and/or Hydrocephalus (SBH)

c) Muscular Dystrophy (MD)

d) Significant Accidental Injury (SAI)

e) Other (OPN)



6 Medical Conditions / Syndromes

a) Epilepsy (EPIL)

b) Asthma (ASTH)

c) Diabetes (DIAB)

d) Anaphylaxis (ANXS)

e) Down’s Syndrome (DOWN)

f) Other Medical conditions/syndromes (OMCS)

g) Interaction of complex medical needs (ICMN)

h) Mental Health Issues (MHI)


7 Other

a) Other (OTH)


Guidance for Schools: Recording Children with SEN, Dept Ed 2005


Definition of Additional Educational Needs (AEN)


The concept of AEN consists of 4 categories:

  1. SEN
  2. Learning Environment e.g. EAL
  3. Family Circumstances e.g. LAC or travellers
  4. Social and Emotional e.g. short term problems eg bereavement


Admissions Arrangements


Children with SEN/Dis/AEN are admitted to Ravenscroft Nursery School in accordance with the school’s Admissions Policy.



Special Educational Needs Provision


Our SEN provision adopts a five stage approach as outlined within the Code of Practice 1998.


Structure of the 5 Stage Approach


Stage 1

Class Teacher /SENco

Action Plan / Education Plan

Stage 2

SENco /Class Teacher

Education Plan

Stage 3

SENco /Class Teacher / External Agency

Education Plan

Stage 4

Statutory Assessment

Education Plan

Stage 5

Statement Issued

Education Plan





Support Offered By



Teacher has concerns about a child socially, emotionally or educationally. Information is gathered and observations noted. A record of concern form is completed, SENco consulted. A decision about placing/not placing the child on the SEN register will be made. Parents informed.






Teachers identify and register a child’s special educational needs and, consulting the school’s SEN co-ordinator, take initial action.







The SEN co-ordinator takes lead responsibility for collecting and recording information and for co-ordinating the child’s special educational provision, working with the child’s teachers.







Teachers and the SEN co-ordinator are supported by specialists from outside the school.







The Board considers the need for a statutory assessment and, if appropriate, makes a multi-disciplinary assessment.







The Board considers the need for a statement of special educational needs; if appropriate, it makes a statement and arranges monitors and reviews provision.




Raising Concerns/Observations

· If a teacher is concerned about a child socially, emotionally or educationally, they will keep a record of the concern and note down relevant observations. The class teacher will consult with the SENco and inform the child’s parents. A decision about placing/not placing the child on the SEN register will be made.

· If a parent has concerns they will be given the opportunity to express these at the initial parent interview before the child starts Nursery School or at the first teacher/parent consultation held during the first term.

· Parents are free to contact the school at any time during the school year and request a consultation with the Class teacher or the SENco. This can be done by arranging an appointment via the school secretary or Principal.


Gathering Information

· Teachers will use their professional judgement to identify and raise concern

· Observation sheets/assessment records will be completed by Nursery staff

· During consultations, parents will be given opportunities to inform the school of any relevant information. For example: attendance at speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, involvement of paediatrician or any social or personal circumstances which may have an affect on the child’s progress. Parents will be encouraged to keep the school updated with regard to this relevant information.



If concern remains, the class teacher and SENco together decide to place the child on the SEN Register at Stage 1 and inform the child’s parents in writing. The class teacher, in consultation with the SENco, draws up an Action Plan (AP) /Education Plan(EP) with appropriate targets. These should reflect alternative teaching and learning strategies or different classroom organisation that may help to meet the child’s needs. The class teacher should also monitor and review progress. The class teacher will liaise with the parents and give them a copy of the AP/EP. Parents are asked to sign another copy for the school records.





If, following one or two review periods at Stage 1, progress is satisfactory; the child may remain at Stage 1 or be removed from the SEN register. The class teacher and/or SENco will inform the child’s parents.



If, following one or two review periods at Stage 1, progress has not been satisfactory, the class teacher and SENco will decide to move the child to Stage 2. Parents will be informed.

The SENco, working with the class teacher and other appropriate staff, will ensure that an Education Plan is drawn up for the child. The class teacher and/or SENco will liaise with parents and give them a copy of the EP. The parent will be asked to sign another copy of the EP for school records.

If, following one or two review periods at Stage 2, progress is satisfactory; the child may remain at Stage 2 or move back to Stage 1. Parents will be informed.



If, following one or two review periods at Stage 2, progress has not been satisfactory, additional expertise from EANI (BR) Psychology will be sought. A Stage 3 referral will be sought. The SENco will liaise with parents and correlate the necessary paperwork. The pupil will continue to have an Education Plan. The class teacher and/or SENco will liaise with parents and give them a copy of the EP. The parent will be asked to sign another copy of the EP for school records.






At this stage the Board will consider evidence from the Educational Psychologist, the school and any other agencies involved. The Board will consider the possible need for Statutory Assessment. The Board will consult with the parents and the school.



The child will receive a statement of Educational Needs from the Education Board. The school will endeavour to meet the needs of the child as recommended in the statement. Annual reviews will take place in line with the Code of Practice and Board Policy.

Throughout the Board Stages the pupil will continue to have an Education Plan. The class teacher and/or SENco will consult with parents and give them a copy of the EP. The parent will be asked to sign another copy of the EP for school records.


The Supplement of the Code of Practice 2005 contains information with regard to arrangements for dealing with Parent/Board Disagreements. A cross- board independent Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Service (DARS) is available. See paragraph 4.33 – 4.46 of the Supplement.


Education and Library Boards are also required to provide SEN information to parents of children with SEN. Parents can contact the Advice and Information service (AIS). Most of the advice is available on a regional website:






The Role of the Governors


The Board of Governors of the school should, in co-operation with the Principal, determine the school’s general policy and approach, establish appropriate staffing and funding arrangements and maintain general oversight of the school’s work.


The Role of the Principal


The Principal will:-

  • Be responsible for the day- to–day management of the school’s SEN/Dis/AEN provision
  • Keep the Board of Governors informed of policy and SEN/Dis/AEN practice in the school
  • Liaise with parents if/when necessary and contribute to Annual reviews
  • Provide opportunity for teacher training in SEN/Dis/AEN
  • Ensure the budget for SEN is allocated for provision and resources


In Ravenscroft Nursery School the Principal is also the SENCO.


The Role of the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENco)


In line with the recommendations in the SEN Code of Practice 1998, the SENco will:

  • Be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school’s Inclusion and Special Educational Needs Policy
  • Respond to requests from other teachers
  • Liaise with all teachers and assist in the identification of children with SEN/Dis/AEN
  • Maintain a register of children with SEN/Dis/AEN
  • Oversee all the records kept on children with SEN/Dis/AEN
  • Assist teachers to draw up and implement any individualised programme of work (Stages 2-5)
  • Liaise with parents and other necessary external agencies, health and social services, and voluntary bodies
  • Assist staff with monitoring and reviewing the progress of children with SEN/Dis/AEN
  • Support staff with their continuing professional development in relation to SEN/Dis/AEN
  • Attend relevant courses at the EANI (BR)




The Role of the Class Teacher


The class teacher will have responsibility for all the children with SEN/Dis/AEN in his/her class. He/she should:


  • Be familiar with the procedure for the identification of and provision for children with SEN/Dis/AEN within both school and BELB
  • Gather information about the child and make initial assessment.
  • Liaise with parents
  • Inform the SENco
  • Liaise with other staff and professionals as appropriate
  • Provide special help within the normal framework of the class situation and differentiate work if/when appropriate
  • Be familiar with the ‘Good Practice Guidelines’ and implement appropriate strategies if/when necessary
  • Monitor and review the child’s progress through the use of an Action Plan/Education Plan
  • Keep a record of achievements and observations to show evidence of the outcomes of the targets set in the Action/Education Plan
  • Keep the SEN File for their class updated and organised
  • Keep relevant information in their Professional Development File
  • Manage and develop resources for SEN/Dis/AEN for use in their classroom
  • Inform substitute teachers of the SEN/Dis/AEN children and special arrangements/strategies being used in the classroom
  • Ensure confidentiality is adhered to at all times



The Role of Classroom Assistants


Assistants play a major role in the support of pupils with SEN. The Classroom Assistant should therefore:

  • Work under the direction of the class teacher to assist in the teaching and learning of all pupils
  • Be flexible in working with everyone to allow the class teacher time to be involved with individual children with SEN/Dis/AEN
  • Keep the class teacher informed about the child’s progress


When the CA is allocated to a specific child (Stage 5) s/he should work under the direction of the child’s class teacher and the SENco to enable the objectives set out in the child’s statement to be met as adequately as possible.




The Role of Peripatetic/Outreach Teachers


The involvement of Peripatetic/Outreach (P/O) teachers will usually be the result of recommendations from Psychology and the EANI (BR) for a child on Stage 3-5 in line with the Code of Practice.


It is expected that the P/O teacher will

  • Liaise with the SENco and class teacher and keep them regularly updated
  • Provide advice if/when required for the class teacher



Partnerships with Parents


In Ravenscroft Nursery School close liaison between school and home is valued and viewed as an important step in meeting the needs of children with SEN/Dis/AEN.


In accordance with the Supplement to the Code of Practice 2005 (paragraph 1.15) ‘parents should be encouraged to be fully involved in the school-based response for their child, understand any purpose of any intervention made and told about the Board’s Advice and Information Service (AIS).’


Parents have responsibilities in working effectively with the school. They should:

  • Communicate regularly with the school and alert it to any concerns they might have about their child’s learning or provision
  • Fulfil their obligations to ensure that their child receives education suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and any SEN/Dis/AEN they may have.




Links with other schools and agencies


Ravenscroft Nursery School will liaise closely with Primary 1 staff and inform their SENco of any children with potential difficulties. An information session will be arranged at the end of the academic year before transition into Primary 1.


Discussion will take place with parents prior to liaison with other schools

and/or outside agencies.




Physical Access:

The main entrance to the school has no steps or raised areas. Wheelchair users would have access to all rooms inside the school and the outdoor play area. There is an adult disabled toilet in the school. All wash hand basins and toilets are at a level easily accessible to all children.


Access to the Curriculum:


The school will endeavour to ensure that every child, regardless of SEN/Dis/AEN, has access to a broad and balanced curriculum. Staff will use a range of learning and teaching strategies to suit different children.

The school development plan should take account of training needs for staff and these should be regularly updated to meet the needs of the range of SEN/Dis/AEN that may be present in the school.


Access to Information:


Ravenscroft Nursery School is working towards a variety of ways to making information accessible to all members of the school community (including those whose first language is not English) through formal and informal consultations, written reports/forms and parent meetings.


Reasonable Adjustments:


Ravenscroft Nursery School will endeavour to provide reasonable adjustments and relevant purposeful measures in order to provide for a child with SEN/Dis/AEN during the school based stages of the Code of Practice (1-3).

The school will liaise with the Board and seek advice for children during the Board based stages (4&5) in order to consider reasonable adjustments and relevant and purposeful measures which the school may be able to provide for a child with SEN/Dis/AEN.


Special Facilities


The school can use the parents/staff room for learning support. Children may be withdrawn from class individually or in small groups.



Appendix 2




How We Are an Inclusive School For Additional Needs






Physical Differences:


· EYIT Training for all staff, CIDS training, Roots of Development training

· Adapted physical equipment (OT advised);

· Disabled toilet;

· High visibility entrances and exits;

· Avail of SEN budget;

· Own practice adapted;

· Room layout and furniture adapted for use;

· Provide appropriate physical activity schedule;

· Facilitate other professionals’ visits;

· Access and facilitate peripatetic and outreach support;

· Use of differently abled puppets and playfigures;

· 1:1 assistance;

· IEP’s;

· Code of Practice.




· EYIT training for all staff, CIDS training, Roots of Development training.

· Playgroup/appropriate setting visit;

· Contact with Health Visitor;

· Speech Therapy screening;

· Visual schedules;

· Timers;

· Differentiated curriculum;

· Work stations;

· Use of visual cues throughout curriculum eg symbols;

· Staff Training;

· Awareness of sensory issues;

· Sensory/movement programmes

· Whole class schedule;

· Primary movement

· Social stories


· Makaton

· Object schedules

· A&L programme

· Parent programme

· Small group work;

· Time to talk social language programme;

· Primary movement programme;

· IEP’s

· Code of Practice;

· Teach social skills.




· EYIT training for all staff, CIDS training, Roots of Development training.

· Structures put in place in addition to daily routine eg 3 tasks daily, whole class schedule;

· Sandtimers;

· Medication awareness;

· Awareness of dietary impact;

· Small group work;

· Use of time out;

· Behaviour support;

· Specific targeting of attention and listening skills throughout the curriculum;

· Plan for questioning;

· Seek parental support;

· Appropriate use of physical activity;

· Sensory/movement programmes

· Ensure attention initiated/given during whole group activities eg quiet room, and whole class activities;

· Repetition of instructions;

· Use of visual cues and supports;

· Develop auditory processing/memory through musical activities;

· Provide support for social skills;

· IEP’s

· Code of Practice.







· Time to Talk Programme;

· Use of music and movement;

· Pupil profiling system which informs of needs and risk factors;

· Provide concrete experiences in number awareness;

· Use of number songs and rhymes;

· Use of music and movement;

· Develop rhythm;

· Use of visual cues and prompts;

· Minimise amount of information given;

· Colour coding;

· Build self-confidence;

· Build tracking skills from left to right;

· Develop sequencing and prediction skills;

· Teach organisational skills;

· Appropriately provide for kinaesthetic learners;

· Overlearn skills;

· Develop auditory memory and processing;

· Minimise classroom clutter and noise;

· Reduce stimulus in learning environments and quiet rooms;

· Develop thinking skills and plan for use of questioning;

· Focused observations which inform planning and profiles.

· Primary Movement

· Movement Programme




· EYIT training for all staff, CIDS training, Roots of Development training

· Classrooms are uncluttered and minimalistic;

· Lots of opportunities for fine and gross motor development;

· OT support sought;

· Use of tripod pens and pencils/grippers;

· Use of appropriate equipment for needs eg chunky paintbrushes;

· Focused observations which inform planning and profiles;

· IEP’s;

· Code of Practice;

· Pupil profiling system which informs of needs and risk factors.


DAMP (Deficiency in perception, motor and attention)


· EYIT training for all staff, CIDS training, Roots of Development training.

· Develop rhythm;

· Use of visual cues and prompts;

· Minimise amount of information given;

· Colour coding;

· Build self-confidence;

· Build tracking skills from left to right;

· Develop sequencing and prediction skills;

· Teach organisational skills;

· Appropriately provide for kinaesthetic learners;

· Overlearn skills;

· Programme to develop phonological/memory and oral language skills;

· Develop auditory memory and processing;

· Minimise classroom clutter and noise;

· Reduce stimulus in learning environments and quiet rooms;

· Develop thinking skills and plan for use of questioning;

· Focused observations which inform planning and profiles;

· IEP’s;

· Code of Practice;

· Pupil profiling system which informs of needs and risk factors.




· EYIT training for all staff, CIDS training, Roots of Development training

· Speech and Language Programmes;

· Speech and Language referrals and screening;

· Observe OWL protocols;

· Model correct speech patterns;

· Rhymes, repetition and praise;

· Speech mirrors;

· Choice board;


· Universal symbols.






· EYIT training for all staff, CIDS training, Roots of Development Training.

· Maths as a discrete area of the curriculum;

· Accommodate and plan for VAK learning styles;

· Focused observations which inform planning and profiles;

· IEP’s;

· Code of Practice;

· Use of attention building exercises eg symbols;

· Confidence building;

· OT support;

· Repetition;

· Model appropriate behaviour;

· Lots of opportunities for fine and gross motor development;

· Focused observations which inform planning and profiles;

· IEP’s;

· Code of Practice;

· Pupil profiling system which informs of needs and risk factors;

· Use of appropriate equipment for needs eg chunky paintbrushes;

· Overlearn skills;

· Develop auditory memory and processing;

· Minimise classroom clutter and noise;

· Reduce stimulus in learning environments and quiet rooms;

· Develop thinking skills and plan for use of questioning;

· Use of visual cues and prompts;

· Minimise amount of information given.



Appendix 3








Autism is a complex developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life. It is a neurological disorder and occurs in approximately 1 in 500 individuals. Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) describes individuals that fall onto a spectrum of symptoms and characteristics ranging from mild to severe.


People with autism can exhibit any combination of behavioural characteristics in any degree of severity. Consequently, two children with the same diagnosis can act very differently from one another and have varying skills.


Children and adults with autism experience difficulties in three main areas, known as the triad of impairments.



Non-verbal and verbal communication


Children with ASD find understanding and using language very difficult. They may be completely non-verbal, or repeat what is said to them over and over (echolalia). Non-verbal communication is especially difficult for a child on the autistic spectrum. Body language, gesture and facial expressions are not understood as clues to communication. In addition, children with autism will often not point to an object they want or use appropriate gestures, preferring to lead carers by the hand or look repeatedly at what they want. In verbal communication, jokes and sarcasm are not appropriate as the intentional tone is often not received and therefore the meaning is missed. For many children, certain words act as triggers (such as ‘no’) or in some, language is a cause of agitation. Many children can get ‘high’ from spoken language, using echolalia as a form of sensory stimulation. Some children have good receptive language but their inability to reply causes frustrations and this in turn can lead to anxiety and challenging behaviour. Many children benefit from alternative communication methods using pictures (PECS), objects, makaton sign language or written schedules with verbal prompting and exaggerated gestures.


Social understanding and interaction


The most severe impairment seen in this area is aloofness and indifference to other people. Most children show attachment on a simple physical level, others will show limited pleasure in social contact but will not initiate this contact and others approach people in an odd, stereotyped and repetitive way with little or no attention to the responses of the person.


People (particularly children) with autism often have difficulties initiating and sustaining relationships with their peers. The child will have difficult in understanding and reading others’ intentions. It is often the case that children with autism can relate well to their parents and carers but not to other children. This is because, as adults, we can usually anticipate the needs of a child. Since other children do not have this ability, the autistic child struggles to interact with his/her peers. It is not that autistic children cannot make friends but often just do not know how. Teaching an autistic child social skills is critical to their development.



Imagination and flexible thinking


Children on the autistic spectrum do not play with toys in the conventional way, choosing instead to flap, spin or line up objects, or concentrate on a certain part of the toy, such as a wheel, at the expense of the whole object. Many people argue that this shows a lack of imagination. However, this is a pessimistic view. Children with autism are limited in how much they can achieve without guidance. Yet playing with toys in any way can be seen as using imagination – it’s just that this imagination is not shared with others and serves a purpose only for that child.


Inflexible behaviour refers to the rigid routines observable in children on the spectrum. Many children will have stereotyped activities from rocking and flapping to teeth grinding and self-injury. They may show intense attachment to a particular object, or a desire to collect and hoard things such as pebbles and bottle tops. Changes in everyday routines such as going a different way to school may instigate a tantrum, as these changes that are meaningless to you and I are frightening and distressing to a child with ASD. They cannot marry the concept of what is expected to happen and what is actually happening.


Theory of mind


This is a complex theory which puts the autistic individual in a state of ‘mind-blindness’. ‘Theory of mind’ refers to one’s ability to realise that other people have their own unique point of view about the world. Many autistic individuals do not understand that others may have different thoughts, plans, and perspectives than their own, and sometimes act upon the world not as it is but as they believe it to be. For example, the autistic child will not understand that other people do not know exactly what they want when they are asking for an object (as they know what they mean so why don’t you!). They cannot ‘put themselves in another person shoes’ and attune their behaviour accordingly.


Sensory problems


People with autism tend to process information in a unique way. They often experience sensitivities in the five areas of touch, smell, taste, vision and hearing. More able people with autism have reported that everyday sounds such as hoovers, talking and chairs scraping can cause physical pain as their hearing is sensitive to this. Conversely, those with autism may sometimes be ‘tuned out’ and not respond to their name or an instruction, as if they were deaf. Some can find touch unbearable, especially in times of anxiety. Even the gentlest reassuring touch on the arm can be intensely overwhelming, and can cause physical discomfort. Others find touch extremely reassuring, and deep pressure massage or a simple squeeze of the hand can be incredibly comforting and/or pleasurable. With vision, children with autism often find eye contact incredibly difficult and stressful. Often the child will look past you or through you as this serves as a less intrusive interaction. Some children will not be able to talk and make eye contact at the same time as this overwhelms their senses and causes much distress. Some children will have aversions to bright lights, or colours and so on (photosensitivity) although this is not always the case.


Stimulus overselectivity


Many autistic individuals also have a narrow or focused attention span; this has been terms ‘stimulus overselectivity’. In this way, the person’s attention is focused on only one, often irrelevant, aspect of an object. For example, they may focus on the colour of a utensil, and ignore other aspects such as the shape. In this case, it may be difficult for a child to discriminate between a fork and a spoon if s/he attends only to the colour. Since attention is the first stage in processing information, failure to attend to the relevant aspects of an object or person may limit the child’s ability to learn about objects and people in their environment.


Priorities for helping children with autism:


· Create a secure, predictable, structured environment for the child.

· Help the child learn and make use of a method of communication to get his/her needs met.

· Manage his/her behaviour by giving instructions and prompts to show him/her what to do rather than what not to do.

· Find ways of having fun. Autistic children will often have interests which may look obsessive but can be encouraged through play and utilised to teach new skills.




In communicating with the child it is important to:


· Give the child’s name before giving an instruction.

· Speak in short phrases using keywords and use pictures, symbols or gestures to give further clues to what you are asking/saying.

· Give plenty of time for the child to process the instruction and respond.

· Be quiet and calm so as to avoid furthering the child’s anxiety.

· Offer fixed choices to avoid confrontation (do you want … or ….?)

· Use incentives to encourage the child to do what they are asked.

· Distract to another activity when s/he is upset.

· Give a clear idea of what is going to happen during the day, using schedules, now and then and so on.

· Give a warning when something is going to change (story now, then light off).













Appendix 4



Inclusion & Diversity in Ravenscroft Nursery School



Valuing Diversity and Promoting Equality


Statement of Intent for Ravenscroft Nursery School


Ravenscroft Nursery School is committed to valuing diversity by providing equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice for all children and families.


Equal Opportunities Co-ordinator is: Nuala Symington




· To provide secure environments in which all our children can flourish and in which all contributions are valued.

· Include and value the contribution of all families to our understanding of equality and diversity.

· Provide positive non-stereotyping information about gender roles, diverse ethnic and cultural groups and people with disabilities.

· Improve our knowledge and understanding of issues of anti-discriminatory practice, promoting equality and valuing diversity; and

· Make inclusion a thread that runs through all of the activities of our settings.


The legal framework for this policy is:


· Race Relations Act 1976;

· Race Relations Amendment Act 2000;

· UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

· Children Act 1989;

· Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001;

· Equality Act, Disability 2010/2013;

· Discrimination Act and Disability Discrimination Order (NI) 2006;

· Autism Act 2009.








Our settings are open to all members of the community in Northern Ireland.


· We advertise our Nursery widely.

· We reflect the diversity of members of our society in our publicity and promotional materials.

· We provide information in clear, concise language, whether in spoken or written form.

· We base our admissions policy on a fair system.

· We do ensure that all parents are made aware of our Equal Opportunities Policy.

· We do not discriminate against a child or their family, or prevent entry to our setting, on the basis of colour, ethnicity, religion or social background.

· We develop an action plan to ensure that people with disabilities can participate successfully in the services offered by the setting and in the curriculum offered.

· We take action against any discriminatory behaviour by staff or parents.




· We seek out training opportunities for staff and volunteers to enable them to develop anti-discriminatory and inclusive practices, which enable all children to flourish. For example Media Initiative/Respecting Differences Training.

· We review our practices to ensure that we are fully implementing our policy for equality, diversity and inclusion.


Curriculum (See Northern Ireland Curricular Guidance for Pre-School Education)


The curriculum offered in the settings encourages children to develop positive attitudes about themselves as well as to people who are different from themselves. We encourage children to empathise with others and to begin to develop the skills of autonomy.


We do this by:


· Making children feel valued and good about themselves;

· Ensuring that children have equality of access to learning;

· Recognising the different learning styles of girls and boys, making appropriate provision within the curriculum to ensure each child receives the widest possible opportunity to develop their skills and abilities;

· Positively reflecting the widest possible range of communities in the choice of resources;

· Avoiding stereotypes or derogatory images in the selection of books or other visual materials;

· Celebrating a wide range of festivals;

· Creating an environment of mutual respect and tolerance;

· Helping children to understand that discriminatory behaviour and remarks are hurtful and unacceptable;

· Ensuring that the curriculum offered is inclusive of children with special educational needs and children with disabilities;

· Ensuring that children learning English as an additional language have full access to the curriculum and are supported in their learning;

· Ensuring that children speaking languages other than English are supported in the maintenance and development of their home languages.


Valuing Diversity In Families


· We welcome the diversity of family lifestyles and work with all families.

· We encourage children to contribute stories of their everyday life to our schools.

· We encourage parents/carers to take part in the life of the schools and to contribute fully.

· For families who speak languages in addition to English, we will develop means to ensure their full inclusion for example use the Inclusion and Diversity Services of the SEELB and/or Makaton signing/PECS/visual supports.

· Our school website has a Google Translate option and parents can view a range of information and policies in a language of their own choosing.

· Our extended schools cluster provides funding for once weekly support sessions for our EAL pupils with an EAL Teacher.






· We work in partnership with parents to ensure that the medical, cultural and dietary needs of children are met.

· We help children to learn about a range of food, and of cultural approaches to mealtimes and eating, and to respect the differences among them.





Assessment will be carried out in accordance with the school’s Observation and Assessment policy document.


Diagnostic testing will take place to help identify children who may meet the Board’s criteria for a Stage 3 Assessment for a Specific Learning Difficulty eg Autism. If necessary a discussion will take place with the parents prior to a consultation with Educational Psychology.




Parents can have copies of materials on request



The Board of Governors will report each year on SEN/Dis/AEN Provision in school.






This policy is integral to all our policies, specifically Positive behaviour, Child Protection, Anti-Bullying and Assessment.


This policy has been drawn up in consultation with all the staff.






It has been adopted by the Board of Governors. Date ____________


This policy will be monitored, evaluated and updated annually.