In the short term I would like to help to improve the inclusion provisions of the nursery setting by ensuring that all staff understand and follow the equal opportunities policy statement. Key workers should have a better understanding of the cultural and religious beliefs, languages, family background, disabilities and special educational needs of children in their care and ensure that all provisions in the nursery meet the requirements of inclusive practice set out by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).
The Foundation Stage Guidance states that “an awareness of the requirements of equal opportunities that cover race, gender and disability and the code of practice on the identification and assessment of special educational needs is essential, (QCA/DfEE, 2000, pg. 17) This can be achieved by first discussing these issues in a staff meeting and suggesting that all staff look at ways in which we are meeting the criteria QCA has set for inclusive practice.
To target the areas previously addressed I will suggest that the nursery could focus on our multi-cultural background as an on going theme throughout the year; not just on the odd occasion as is happening at present. This way the practitioners can learn alongside the children (as learning partners) about the diversity in our community. The Foundation Stage guidance suggests the practitioners should “find out about the child’s faith, cultural heritage, home experiences and interests so they can be used as a starting point for learning and teaching, (QCA/DfEE, 2000,pg.12).
I will also suggest that the home corner should be changed more regularly to depict other cultures as it tends to focus upon the western world. This can be achieved with the use of items that were found during the audit and also by asking parents if they have anything that they would donate. The Foundation stage Guidance suggests that “practitioners should ensure that displays and resources reflect children’s homes and community experiences”, (QCA/DfEE, 2000,pg.12).
I would also discuss the possibility of the nursery’s equal opportunities policy to be amended in the future to state:- regardless of ability, cultural or religious influences are seen to be valuable members of the society. This would help to clarify that children of all abilities regardless of special educational needs are welcome at the nursery. I will also discuss the findings of the resource audit and make staff aware of all the resources available.
We should also discuss the possibility of selling the unused items to raise money for more inclusive materials and also, maybe, a fund raising day or activity, to help raise money for the more expensive sensory items and the replacement of the left handed scissors. Another area that needs to be discussed is the time allocated for talking to parents. I will suggest that there needs to be more time allocated for practitioners and parents to be able to talk.
This could involve giving each member of staff an allocated day when they take their lunch a little later than usual, giving more flexibility for parents to talk to the staff who look after their children. For example a child attends morning nursery, five days a week. The member of staff has lunch normally around 11:40am, but on this allocated day lunch could be at 12:00, allowing the parent time to talk to a practitioner.
I am aware that the role of practitioner is still evolving and that there are now many opportunities for professional development in the early years educational field. Study Topic 14 states that “practitioners need to reflect on professional development on a continuous basis in order to embrace new opportunities and challenges”. (The Open University, 2004, Study topic 14, pg. 33).
My short term goal is to achieve a certificate in Early Years Education (Level 4) by December 2006. This will be an interim qualification as I am aiming to achieve a BA(hons) in Childhood and Youth Studies; with the long term objective of eventually becoming a SEN co-ordinator. I hope to fulfil this long term objective, and so help make a difference to the lives of children who have learning disabilities and other related disabilities.