Northern Ireland

Children starting nursery education with wider range of complex needs

A CCMS report found children are starting nursery education with a much wider range of complex needs
A CCMS report found children are starting nursery education with a much wider range of complex needs A CCMS report found children are starting nursery education with a much wider range of complex needs

CHILDREN are starting nursery education with a much wider range of complex needs, according to a report.

Many of these needs are arising from personal home circumstances and a range of medical issues.

The study by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) found that accessing quality support for children presenting with complex needs in nursery settings continued to be an issue.

Its review of nursery schools and units includes several recommendations to improve pupils' learning experience.

The aim of the paper was to identify best practice in current facilities and highlight any problems.

CCMS said it was committed to supporting its pre-schools in responding to the challenge of providing excellent early educational experience and opportunities for all pupils.

It said it recognised the vital role that such schools and units played in child development and learning as, in many cases, they were the first formal educators of pupils experiencing adverse childhood episodes.

"The research clearly indicates that timely interventions and support must take place in the lives of the young people and indeed their parents in order to diminish the negative effects of trauma and hardship," the report said.

"Parents and care givers are the first educators of their children. Staff within the nursery sector are already focussed on supporting children and their care givers through a wide range of tried and tested interventions. This hard work and effort needs to be recognised, supported and encouraged by policy and proper investment."

The report highlighted several concerns raised by nursery leaders and staff.

They said children were starting nursery with "a much wider range of complex needs".

"Many of these needs arise from their personal home circumstances, the social environment that they live in and a range of medical or health issues," the report found.

"Accessing quality support for children presenting with complex needs in nursery settings continues to be an issue and there are valuable missed opportunities to support children whilst formal processes are being undertaken.

"Many of the support initiatives require additional time and effort beyond normal working hours and rely heavily on the good will of the staff. Staff report that this impacts on their stress levels and on their own personal and family time."

The report recommended further investment in the nursery sector to allow for "a more equal and consistent approach to appropriately funded and resourced support interventions and programmes for all children and their parents".

This would also enable staff to provide high quality teaching and learning within a manageable workload.

It also urged investment in the workforce to increase the ratio of adults to pupils, provide for the development of support programmes for additional needs and parenting workshops and permit tailored programmes of continuing professional development.