Best Practice Network to deliver new early years SENCo programme

The Department for Education (DfE) has awarded Best Practice Network the contract to deliver a new training programme for up to 5,000 early years SENCos from September

The early years SENCo qualification will be targeted at Level 3 practitioners in private, voluntary or independent settings and will also be appropriate for childminders.

Best Practice Network, which also provides EYITT and level 2, 3 and 5 qualifications along with the NPQ suite of professional development programmes for school leaders, will deliver the qualification with a wide range of partners: Elklan, Kids Planet Day Nurseries, Snapdragons, London Early Years Foundation Nursery Chains, Bristol City Council, Derbyshire LA, Durham CC and Telford and Wrekin LA, and the National Day Nurseries Association.

Sian Marsh, director, early years and ITT at Best Practice Network, said:

“We are pleased to be playing a key role in efforts to ensure that the best possible educational outcomes are achieved for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“This qualification comes at a critical time when the pandemic significantly reduced opportunities to identify and address SEND amongst children not yet of compulsory school age.

“The programme will build specialist expertise in SEND by increasing the number of Level 3 qualified SENCos in group-based settings and childminder settings.”

Delivery of the programme will start in Autumn 2022. Participants on the four-month long programme can expect a rich mix of online facilitated training, mentoring, online study and enrichment, including a group discussion forum and communities of good practice. Participants will build up an e-portfolio of learning for final assessment.

Minister for School Standards, Will Quince, said: “It’s great to be working with Best Practice Network on the delivery of Level 3 SENCo training for early years staff.

“This is a crucial programme within our early years education recovery package, addressing the impact of the pandemic on the youngest and most disadvantaged children. It’s also a key part of our SEND Green Paper commitment to improve outcomes for all children, regardless of need.

“The early years sector has worked incredibly hard to support families over the past few years and we want to continue working with them to support all early years children. This upscale in the number of qualified SENCos will directly help children who have special educational needs.”

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said:

“NDNA is delighted to be partnering with Best Practice Network to deliver such an important programme.

“We know from our engagement with member nurseries around the recent SEND Green Paper consultation that this is an area of huge importance for both providers and practitioners.

“But this work must sit alongside other measures set out in the Green Paper that we have recommended in the consultation such as increased funding and ability to access services in a more timely manner.”

Fiona Callaghan, lead: Early Years Equalities and Inclusion at Durham County Council, said: ‘We are excited to work with BPN and the other delivery partners in the delivery of this award. We jumped at the opportunity to provide this professional development opportunity to early years SENCos, acknowledging the critical role they play in early identification and intervention.” 

Councillor Asher Craig, deputy mayor of Bristol with responsibility for Children’s Services, Education and Equalities at Bristol City Council, said: “The new training programme for early years SENCos will make a huge difference to the lives of many children living with special educational needs and disabilities across the country. We are delighted to be a part of this wonderful initiative to support Best Practice Network in the delivery of this new training programme.”

Further details about the new programme are available at https://www.bestpracticenet.co.uk/early-years-SENCO