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Ditchling Preschool Local Offer for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Name and contact details of person submitting this offer: Fiona Hughes, Manager 01273 846115 (Term time only)

To download this information as a document please click here.


How does the school know if children need extra help and what should I do if I think my child/young person may have special educational needs?
How will the preschool staff support my child/young person?
How will the curriculum be matched to my child’s needs?
How will both you and I know how my child is doing and how will you help me to support my child’s  learning?
What support will there be for my child’s overall well being?
What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the school?
What training are the staff supporting children and young people with SEND had or are having?
How will my child be included in activities outside the classroom including school trips?
How accessible is the pre school environment?
How will you support my child to join the preschool and transfer to a school or the next stage of education and life?
How are the school’s resources allocated and matched to children’s  special educational needs?
How is the decision made about what type and how much support my child will receive?
How are parents involved in the school?  How can I be involved?
Who can I contact for further information?

How does the school know if children need extra help and what should I do if I think my child/young person may have special educational needs?

When parents contact us to make the first enquiry, we invite them to visit the setting to find out more about it. Once parents have visited and decided they want to send their child to our preschool we give or send an application form.  We ask parents to record any medical conditions or any other concerns on the application form so there may be an early indication of any known needs.

When children and parents arrive on their first day, after their initial visit,   we ask parents to bring with them a completed ‘Starter questionnaire’ form, which we send you about two weeks before, telling us about your child’s interests and any information which you would like us to know about your child.

We also ask if the child has had a 2 year check done by their Health Visitor and whether any issues were raised.  If so, we ask for a copy of the Health Visitor’s report. (We have a copier here.)

On the first day, your child will be allocated a Key Person who is responsible for making observations and assessing progress towards the early years goals described in the EYFS. (Early Years Foundation Stage).

If the key person has concerns about your child’s learning or development they will in the first place discuss this with you and together you can decide how best to proceed to meet your child’s needs. At this point they may also get support from the settings SENCO (Special Education Needs Coordinator) to document the support they are providing and the progress your child is making in a Setting Support Plan.  They may suggest making referral to the Early Years Teaching and Support Service at East Sussex.

We feel that we are very approachable and parents can raise any concerns they may have whenever they feel they would like to.

Our staff are knowledgeable and have experience in a variety of special educational needs such as speech and language difficulties and visual impairment.

Our policy is to help all children at preschool to achieve their potential.  So long as we feel we can meet their needs at preschool, we do not discriminate against children with special needs and aim for all children to be included in activities and play, and for all to feel welcome.

If you feel your child may have special educational needs, please let us know at the first opportunity so we can get started in helping your child progress as soon as possible. Early identification is really important.

How will the preschool staff support my child/young person?

If no other support services are working with your child, your child’s key person, supported by the setting’s SENCO, and in partnership with you, will plan a programme of support, called a Setting Support Plan, for your child.  The Key Person or SENCO will go through this with you and value your input too.  The plan is unique to your child and identifies the areas of support your child needs.  Progress will be monitored to check that the plan is effective.

If a specialist support service is working with your child, your child’s specialist worker will liaise with their key person and the settings SENCO to ensure that the setting are able to follow the programme of support being suggested for your child.

In both cases, the key person will keep you informed about how they are supporting your child, so that you are able to coordinate your support for your child at home and may suggest activities you can do with your child. They will welcome your feedback about how your child is doing and use this to inform the support they provide.  All members of the setting will be aware of the support your child needs and will work with your child in the same way that they do with all the children in the setting.

If Ditchling Preschool staff feel that we need the advice of outside agencies, we will seek your consent to do so.

Your child’s key person will assess and monitor your child’s progress continuously and keep you informed.

All staff at Ditchling Preschool will support your child with the transition from preschool to school.  Where a child has special needs, a meeting may be held at the Primary school your child is to attend.  At this meeting will be you, the parent, a representative from the preschool and a representative from the Primary school.  The aim of the meeting will be to provide a smooth transition and try to ensure that any support needed by your child is available as soon as possible.

How will the curriculum be matched to my child’s needs?

Our weekly ‘focus children’ scheme allows us to plan for 6 individual children each week, so their needs and interests are met. Parents tell us about current interests and achievements and this helps us plan how to achieve a child’s next steps, along with our own observations and assessments.

We identify particular activities to develop individual children’s potential and try to provide these for them. We also adapt activities to make them more accessible to those children who might otherwise be excluded.  To do this we might use alternative resources, undertake small group or paired play or request advice from external services.

If we feel that your child needs special input in a particular area of the curriculum we will work in partnership with you to plan and write a setting support plan.  We will follow this plan for about 6 weeks and then review it with you, before writing a new plan or deciding that it is no longer required.

If we feel that we would benefit from special resources or from a specialist person to help your child to access an area of the curriculum, we will endeavour to get those resources or specialist advice.

How will both you and I know how my child is doing and how will you help me to support my child’s  learning?

We operate an open door policy and regularly feedback to parents on their child’s progress. We do this formally twice a year at parent consultations and also informally from day to day and when requested by parents.  Parents have access to their child’s Learning Journey (a journal of photos, observations, assessments and next step planning on your child) at any time.  We complete Summative Assessments 3 times a year, assessing at what stage the child is in achieving Early Learning Goals as set out in the guidance document called Development Matters, a copy of which is in the basket in our foyer. These summative assessments are in the back of your child’s learning journey which is your property but which we keep at preschool until your child leaves.

When children come to us at the age of 2, we will carry out a ‘2 year Progress Check’ which will identify any areas where your child’s development needs some extra input, and you will read and sign this Progress Check and discuss with your child’s key person or the setting’s SENCO, a plan of action to help them progress.

At any age, we may discuss with parents the implementation of a Setting Support Plan specific to your child to meet their needs, aiming to drive forward their development in line with typical development for a child of that age.

We encourage parents to take an active role in their child’s learning, asking you about your child’s progress at home and working in partnership with you so that your child progresses.

Parents help us plan activities for their child by filling in a ‘Star Story Form’ on which you tell us your child’s current interests, favourite books, toys etc.  From this form we plan activities for your child, particularly when it is their turn to be a ‘focus child’ for the week.

The manager regularly sends out emails telling parents what our topic is for the month, together with a detailed plan, and any special events that are due to take place.

This last year we have had two parents’ evenings in the local pub where we told parents about our aims at preschool and how parents can help with early literacy, for example.  We plan to have more of these for future parents to keep them informed and enable them to help their children progress.

What support will there be for my child’s overall well being?

All staff are observing and monitoring the children all the time.  We aim for all the children in our care to be happy and involved.  The child’s key person, in particular, forms a special relationship with the child and parent.  If a child seemed unhappy during or after the settling in period we would consult with the parents and together plan how best to support the child.

As well as a key person each child has a backup key person as all staff are part-time working between 2 and 4 days a week. Information about all children is shared in team meetings and roles are shared e.g. story time, rolling snack so that all staff get to know all children.

When the child first joins us we ask the parents to record exactly the child’s medical needs. If the child is under the care of a consultant we ask you for a copy of the latest report. We keep a record of all children who, for example, need inhalers and how the medicine is to be administered.  The staff member giving the medicine signs to say at what time it was given and a witness signs to confirm this. When the parent comes to collect the child, the parent signs that they have been advised about the administration of the medicine.  We have facilities for changing nappies and spare clothes for occasions when they are needed.

All staff are checked for criminal records before they are allowed to be alone with children and all staff undertake safeguarding training.

We have a policy for managing behaviour and aim to praise for good behaviour as a strategy to improve behaviour.  We also encourage children to make good choices about how they behave. If this fails to work, if appropriate, we apply a three step procedure, the first with ‘a look’ warning, then a verbal warning and finally a minute time out, followed by a discussion with the child about why they had to have time out and how to avoid it in the future.  If a child moves from time out before the minute is up, we will ask to talk to the parent at the end of the day.  If behaviour is an issue for a child, we will try agree a plan with parents and may seek the advice of an Early Years Specialist who will come to observe the child in the setting and suggest a plan of action.

We ask the children what they like or don’t like about the preschool and we take seriously suggestions from them and from parents for improvements.  For children who find talking difficult we use pictures for example so that they can choose which toys they would like to have out or which songs they would like to sing.  Parents also regularly fill in a form called a Star Story, telling us their child’s current interests, news, favourite books, songs and nursery rhymes.  This enables us to plan activities that interest and challenge your child.

What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the school?

All the staff at preschool are parents themselves so we bring a range of personal experiences. We have a trained SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) who regularly attends training to update her knowledge. The Manager is a qualified teacher and regularly attends training. Staff regularly attend child development training and have many years of experience in working with children within the Early Years range. Where we feel we need advice or specialist knowledge from others we, or the parents, might contact the Early Years Team at East Sussex Council, the health visitor, the local family centre, a speech and language therapist, a physiotherapist, a social worker, or an occupational therapist for example.

What training are the staff supporting children and young people with SEND had or are having?

Our SENCO and manager complete regular SENCO training provided by East Sussex Early Years team. We also attend local network meetings and Inclusion support groups where we can discuss any issues we may have and keep our knowledge and understanding up to date. The information from the training, network meetings and support groups is cascaded to all staff through staff meetings. The SENCO and the Manager have recently done Makaton training to help children with speech and language delay. Our policy is to be inclusive. If we had a specific need for training, in order to care for a child, we would endeavour to seek such training for at least one member of staff.

How will my child be included in activities outside the classroom including school trips?

When we plan activities outside preschool we always consider how to make them inclusive and accessible to all. Arrangements are made to ensure all children are included.  This may involve parents and carers or extra equipment. All trips and activities outside preschool are fully risk assessed.

How accessible is the pre school environment?

Unfortunately Ditchling Preschool is not accessible by public transport.  The children and families generally walk to school or arrive by car.  Parking is usually possible in East End Lane.  Otherwise you can park in the village hall car park in Lewes Road and walk through the Twitten to East End Lane. Our building is not a purpose built preschool but is a Scout Hut which is used by many local groups each evening, such as the Scouts, Brownies and Morris dancers.

It is possible to access the building in a wheelchair, through the garden gate.  At the door entrances there is one step at the usual access door and there are two steps at the usual exit door.  We are on the ground floor only but there is a step down from the lobby where the children leave their coats to the main hall, although there is a ramp put in place here each morning.  From the hall to the toilets, there is a slope which would need to be taken slowly if using a walking frame or wheelchair.  The entrance to the girls’ loo is wider than the entrance to the boys.  Neither the boys nor the girls is specially equipped for disabled changing or toileting.  Parents would need to come and assess whether the toilets are accessible for their child. The toilets are adult height and the children use a step to get on to and off the toilet and also for washing their hands.  Currently the taps in the girls’ toilet are lower than the taps in the boys’ although a refurbishment of the boys’ toilet is planned for 2015.

There is no hearing loop in the building.

We use visual prompts and two members of staff have completed initial Makaton training.

Where English is a second language, every effort will be made to secure written material in your own language or find out if East Sussex Council can provide a translator for initial communication. The Manager is fluent in French.  Where a child has a parent from another culture, we would try to enrich our curriculum with art or festivals from that culture and ask the parent if they would be willing to come in and tell the children something about their culture.

If special equipment is needed for your child, we would try to get this for them, either by asking an occupational therapist working with your child, or trying to get funding from an inclusion grant through East Sussex Council to buy the equipment. Panel meetings for these discretionary grants are held once a month. We would also ask you for your advice on this.

How will you support my child to join the preschool and transfer to a school or the next stage of education and life?

Before deciding if Ditchling Preschool is right for your child, we will invite you to come and visit us to see the preschool in action.  The Manager or Deputy, who is also the SENCO, will discuss your child’s needs and answer any questions you may have about the service we provide.  We would also recommend that you and your child come for a trial session and spend some time playing and getting to know our preschool. Your child will meet their key person and we will ensure that your child starts at preschool on a day when their key person is at work.

We will need to see and copy any relevant documentation you have about your child, such as previous IEPs (Individual Education Plans), complete with outcomes, paediatric reports or Statements of Educational Needs, for example. It may be helpful to meet with healthcare professionals to help with your child’s transition to preschool.

A risk assessment may be carried out to identify support required.

Two weeks before your child joins we will send you a ‘Starter questionnaire’ on which we ask you to tell us in writing about your child’s current interests, likes and dislikes,  and ways to help your child settle if they were to become upset. We ask you to bring this with you completed, on your child’s first day. We liaise with parents as to the best way to help your child settle.  Some parents like to stay with their child for just 3 minutes while occasionally a child has had their parent come in every day for the first 3 weeks. We are guided by your judgement in this, but will give you advice if you would like it. We continually monitor your child’s well-being and level of involvement and let you know how they are doing.

From May onwards, in particular, we talk with the older children about primary school in a positive way and practice things that the children will do in Primary school, such as getting changed for and doing PE.  We email parents a booklet about moving on to school and help with preparing your child for the move. We talk about this is preschool as well.

From Day 1 in preschool we encourage independence in their self-care and for example, in pouring their own drink from a jug and cutting their own fruit. We follow the Letters and Sounds Phase 1 curriculum, which helps early literacy skills so that the children are ready to start to learn to read when they go to school.  We also encourage numeracy in our play, and recognition of numerals. From September 2014, on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the year the children will be practising having and dealing with their own lunch box.  We invite the Reception teacher of Ditchling Primary school to come to us and she comes to meet all the children and reads them a story.  The children are also invited there for an afternoon in Term 6, so that they familiarise themselves.

Most of the children from the preschool go on to Ditchling Primary school, a few to Hassocks Infants and this year one went on to St Lawrence’s Primary school in Hurstpierpoint.  For those who were going to Hassocks Infants, a member of staff met children from preschool at the school and spent time with the preschool children in the school, helping them feel comfortable. The information we provide to the school depends on which school the child is going to attend and what the school prefers to have.  For those going to Ditchling School and St Lawrence’s, we provide a report called a Summative Assessment, which is a report on the 7 main areas of learning and how we feel your child will cope with school. You read this report, make your own comments, and sign it, giving us permission to pass it on to school.

Hassocks Infants like to continue with the Learning Journey we have kept on the children, showing with photographs and observations, how your child has developed since they started with us.  This Learning Journey is the property of the parent and once the child has finished at preschool it is handed to you.

For some children, transition is aided by multi-disciplinary meetings at the school in Term 6,   to prepare for a child.  At these meetings, all those involved with the child attend and contribute to the meeting, such as the key person, the new teacher, the parent, the SENCo of the school, the preschool SENCo and any other relevant person who might help achieve a smooth transition for the child.

How are the school’s resources allocated and matched to children’s special educational needs?

We will deploy staff in the best way to meet the needs of the children in the preschool.  If your child needs one to one support, we will apply to East Sussex Council for funding.  We will need your input to help us complete the application, with, for example, contact names and addresses of all professionals involved with your child’s care, plus copies of recent reports they have made on your child. If our application for this discretionary grant is successful, the funding will be used to meet additional staffing costs. Even if the maximum funding is granted, it is insufficient to provide full 1:1 support, so we would need to discuss with you how best to support your child, especially if only part funding is agreed. On the inclusion bursary application form we would also apply for funding for necessary equipment.

How is the decision made about what type and how much support my child will receive?

You are essential to this process as you are the expert on your child. You will be very much involved in discussions about the type and how much support your child will receive.  Taking into account our own observations and assessments, plus those of any specialist services and your own thoughts, we will write an SSP (Setting Support Plan).  You will read and sign this plan.   The SSP will normally be reviewed after six weeks to determine if any adjustments need to be made. At any point along the process, if you have any concerns, we encourage you to raise them with your child’s key person, the SENCo or the Manager.

How are parents involved in the school?  How can I be involved?

As our preschool was started by parents in the community for their own children, we are still very much dependent on parents to help run the preschool.  Except for our kind treasurer, all our committee members are parents and we could not function without them. If you would like to apply to join the committee and be involved in decision making, please talk to the Manager or Deputy, or one of the current committee members.  We are a very open and welcoming preschool and love to have parents volunteer to be a parent helper or come to play some music or tell us about something or do some art with us.  If ever you feel it would be fun to have something happen at the preschool, do let us know and we will see if we can arrange it.

We also have a group of fundraisers which you can join.  We run a number of fund raising events through the year and this is a great way of meeting other parents.

We rely on you to tell us about your child’s interests and achievements.  This helps us to plan activities to stretch and interest your child.

Who can I contact for further information?

If you would like to discuss something about your child before they join, please contact Fiona Hughes, Manager by email on or during term time on 01273 846115 between 9am and 1pm, or leave a message.

If your child is already with us, please talk to whoever you feel comfortable talking to.  It could be your child’s key person, the deputy and SENCo, Angee Holford, or another member of staff. To contact the SENCo, please email or telephone during term time on 01273 846115 between 9am and 1pm or leave a message.

The SENCo or Manager will be able to offer advice and/or signpost parents to other professionals who may be able to help, such as the health visitor, the local children’s centre or a Speech and Language therapist.


This offer is accurate now, but services are regularly reviewed and could change. All information will be updated as soon as possible to reflect any new service offer.

Date of publication: 29th August 2014


This offer is intended to give you clear, accurate and accessible information.

If you would like to comment on the content of the offer or make suggestions to improve the information, please email

Find out more about support for children and young people with special needs and disabilities:

LaraChildren with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities