The Early Years Centre (EYC) provides a range of services for children aged 0 - 5 with a range of special educational needs and it is based on the site of Oakleigh School. The children and staff have full access to the extensive range of facilities on the site. The Early Years Centre and Oakleigh School are organised separately and the children who come under the EYC go on to a wide range of educational provision when they are five.

The EYC has five departments, each meeting the needs of pre-school children with special educational needs in a different way.

The Pre-school Teaching Team

The Pre-school Teaching Team is based on the Oakleigh School site and comprises a Team Leader, five teachers (3.5 full-time equivalents) and a learning support assistant. This team support children with a wide range of complex needs from birth to five. The team also offers Tracker, a specialist intervention for children with communication and interaction difficulties. The team provide early intervention and assessment for the child and support for families following the guidance of the multi-agency Early Support agenda.

The Pre-school Inclusion Team

The Pre-school Inclusion Team is comprised of Area Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (Senco's) who support inclusion in Barnet’s private, voluntary and independent pre-school settings and provide support for childminders to care for disabled children. Thjere are currently 120 settings in Barnet and the team has 5 staff and a Team Leader (4 full-time equivalent). The Pre-school Inclusion Team is managed by the Early Years Centre but the Team Leader is based at the North London Business Park.

The Acorn Assessment Centre

The Acorn Centre is based on two sites; one at Oakleigh School in Whetstone and one at Colindale Primary School.

Image of Maria Kurth - Acting Assistant HeadAcorn is staffed by an Assistant Head, in each class there is a class teacher and three to four Learning Support Assistants depending on need. Each site offers a swimming pool, soft play area and opportunities for a sensory environment

The Acorn Assessment Centre caters for pre-school children who have a wide range of Special Educational Needs / Disabilities (SEND). These include children with specific medical conditions, physical disabilities, social and communication disorders, sensory impairments, autism spectrum conditions and/or other learning difficulties.

The children’s needs are assessed over a period of time, whilst also receiving multi-disciplinary intervention to help them make progress and achieve their potential.  The on-going assessment informs the Statutory Assessment process if necessary and helps determine the resources the children will need in their next educational placement.

The children follow the Early Years Foundation Curriculum which is broken down and adapted to suit their individual learning needs. Alongside this the staff  implement targets given by the Speech and Language Therapist, Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist who work alongside Acorn staff at different times across the week.  We are also supported by a team of Educational Psychologists who monitor the children’s development and progress regularly. At all times parents are involved in setting and working on targets and outcomes with the staff. Each child has a Personal Learning Plan, which is formulated collaboratively with parents/carers and professionals; this is reviewed and updated at six monthly intervals.

We have weekly input from a Drama and Movement Therapist and/or a Music Therapist who are able to work with individual children or facilitate parent /child sessions following the acceptance of a referral to the service.

We also have a Family Support Worker who is able to offer home visits to Acorn families to help and advise parents and carers about any issues the families may have. Class teachers, along with the support of the Assistant Head, will be keyworkers for the children on the Early Support Programme, if their parents/carers wish this.

Children are offered up to 5x 3 hour sessions a week, either a morning or afternoon place.

Parents/Carers are encouraged to visit the Acorn Assessment Centre closest to their home if the professionals involved with their child feel this may be a suitable pre-school placement. Referrals to Acorn usually come via early years professionals. Admissions are discussed at the Acorn admissions panel which is held in the Spring and Summer term each year.

For further information regarding the Acorn Assessment Centre, please contact Maria Kurth, Acting Assistant Head, on 020 8205 8706 Ext.107 or 020 8368 5336 Ext 2.

NAS EarlyBird Programme

EarlyBird is a parent programme designed to help parents/carers of children with Autism Spectrum Condition. The parents/carers attend weekly sessions and have home visits throughout the eight week course. The course was designed by the National Autistic Society and helps parents/carers by providing information, strategies, techniques and resources to help with day to day life and giving them a structure with which to support each other. The Early Years Centre has two trainers and the courses run termly.

For further information about the EarlyBird Programme and how to apply, please contact Liz Elms 07926 079 726.