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Wiltshire Council Early Years Team achieves national recognition for SEND work

Wiltshire Council is one of the first local authorities in the country to gain special recognition for its commitment to inclusion for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in early years.

Published 3 February 2023
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Wiltshire Council is one of the first local authorities in the country to gain special recognition for its commitment to inclusion for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in early years.

The council's Early Years Team has been awarded the Dingley's Promise Ally Level Kite Mark, recognising Wiltshire as an Inclusion Friendly Local Authority - the second local authority in the country to achieve the award. The Early Years Team is completing the Dingley's Promise training and is encouraging early years nurseries, settings and childminders in the county to sign up.

At the heart of the programme is a desire to ensure under 5s with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities are given equal opportunities. Childcare providers receive training in a number of areas, including help to ensure inclusion for SEND children, support to be ready for school, as well as how to deal with any challenging behaviours. It also helps early years practitioners to increase awareness of the needs of children, especially those with SEND, and their confidence in supporting the learning and wellbeing of all children in the setting.

Dingley's Promise (opens new window) is a charity that started in 1983 when a group of parents recognised the need for their children to have more than just medical intervention. The Early Years Inclusion Programme aims to increase the number of young children with SEND accessing early years and childcare places. The programme is funded by Comic Relief, and Wiltshire is one of the local authorities to have been chosen to work on the project.

Already 62.5% of the Early Years Team has completed the Introduction to Inclusive Practice course and 20% of the team is completing all of the available training courses within the Early Years Inclusion Programme. The team has also been supporting settings within the local authority area to sign up to the training. So far Wiltshire is the top local authority in the country with the most amount of learners accessing the programme.

Emma Cooke, Service Manager for Early Years, said: Dingley's Promise training has benefitted the whole team and is also making a difference to childcare providers in Wiltshire, so they have the skills to ensure our young children with SEND benefit from the best childcare. We are really pleased to have this recognition for our teams' hard work and we look forward to sharing it with more settings in the future.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: This is a wonderful achievement and I want to congratulate the hard working team who have shown their commitment to ensuring we provide support and opportunity for people with SEND as early as possible. I'm encouraged to hear so many early years settings are signing up for the training. Ultimately families with children with SEND will know Wiltshire takes inclusion seriously and they will be assured their child will be well received and have the same opportunities so they can get the best start in life.

Amanda Brown, Training Programme Manager at Dingley's Promise said: It's been my absolute pleasure to award our Ally Level Kite Mark to the Wiltshire Council Early Years Team. They have been so supportive of our changemakers project from the start and their commitment to both the undertaking and rollout of our training programme has been outstanding. A very well-deserved award. Well done!

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