New research has revealed that within the early years sector, a lack of staff training – together with resource pressures – is making it more difficult to identify children with special educational needs.

This latest study, conducted by the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) has highlighted that removing these barriers could help improve the detection of children with SEND – as well as preventing others from missing out on vital support.

The research comprised 200 survey responses and interviews with SENCOs between November 2019 and March 2020. Although 80% of them were confident in their ability to identify children with SEND, a number of obstacles were in their way and still affecting their ability to support children.

Most notably, staff training was often found to be lacking, with some SENCOs sharing concerns that less experienced members of staff had received no SEND training at all, despite such experience being central to early identification. In addition, the research highlighted concerns that children showing ‘low levels’ of SEND could be being missed due to time and resource restrictions on SENCOs. This had resulted in a tendency for them to focus on children with more complex needs.

Significant variation was found in experiences across different areas with some SENCOs finding increasingly “lengthy and convoluted” processes for accessing advice and support.

Other SENCOs shared frustration that despite having an-depth knowledge of a child and their family, their views were often not given sufficient ‘weight’ compared to multi-agency professional colleagues.

As a result, there were fears this could lead to missed opportunities for sharing information, the report concludes.

The full article, as reported by Children & Young People Now can be read here.

The full nasen report can be found here.

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