The Reason I’m Here, New Early Support Video.

Early Support has commissioned a series of films to show our principles across the country. These films demonstrate the work that is going on out there, including the work other delivery partners are doing. Signpost Inclusion with Solihull Council and the Renewal Family Centre assisted with the making of one of these, not least by organising and promoting a family event around which to base much of the filming. The concept of the film was devised by the film’s Producer, Nidge Dyer with Fiona Holmes and Dave Howard.

Early Support Resources Updated

This from Early Support HQ:

The existing Early Support resources have been revised, updated and adapted for use with older children and disabled young people.

General ES PhotoEarly Support’s resources help to bring service providers together with parent carers, children and young people on the basis of shared information. They ensure parent carers, children and young people remain at the centre of a holistic and integrated support process.

The information resources we provide are based on what families and young people have said would be most useful for them. They offer a source of reliable and readable information. They cover a range of different conditions, disabilities and difficulties, including autistic spectrum disorder, speech, language and communication, visual impairment, sleep, neurological disorders, multi-sensory impairment, rare conditions and no diagnosis. They also provide general information on childcare, people you may meet and other useful areas of knowledge.

Information resources on deafness, cerebral palsy, behaviour, learning difficulties and down syndrome will be available shortly.

Visit the Early Support Information Resources page.

Key Working Training: Spread the word!

Early Support Logo

Tell colleagues, friends and family:
We have the current available Midlands dates for

Key Working Training
(Please note:
This is not to be confused with
Key Working Training For Trainers
Capacity Building
which is available by invitation only).

  • Parents & Carers will be better equipped to get what they want and need for their family.
  • Professionals will gain the skills to do their jobs, and enjoy doing them!
  • Both will find a way of bridging the gap between their worlds.

This is delivered over 2 days, and also includes some distance learning. There are a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people on each course, and it is completely FREE.

Over the two days participants will:

  • Explore their understanding of working in partnership and the key working function.
  • Reflect on how the key working functions look and feel in practice for disabled children, young people, their families and practitioners.

Once you’ve taken part in this training you will be eligible for
Key Working Training For Trainers Capacity Building.


8th & 22nd July

3rd & 16th May

20th May & 3rd June

7th & 21st May

4th & 18th September

17th & 26th June

20th May & 3rd June

2nd & 16th Sep

3rd & 17th July

16th May & 6th June

3rd & 17th July

In Principle Relaunched In New Format

In Principle, your favourite online magazine for the Early Support community has been relaunched in new “up to the minute” format, and now reaches across the whole of the Midlands region, from the Welsh border to the sparkling Lincolnshire coastline, from bustling Birmingham to tiny Titchmarsh In Principle Magazine is doing its bit to bring the Midlands Early support family together.

We’ll be sending monthly round-ups direct to your in-box, and more urgent news on a more frequent basis. So if you want a message to get out, an opinion aired or a piece of good news shared In Principle is the place to do it. Don’t hide that light under a bushel – share those achievements!


So what exactly is this “Key Working”?

The concept of Key Working is one that some people seem to get instantly, and others (that would be me then – Ed.) struggle with. It isn’t so much what is involved in key working, it’s the terminology and how it might relate to the “Key Worker” that sometimes causes people to miss a step.

The issue isn’t new to Early Support and so they’ve come up with this handy little introduction to the idea, which answers the question What is Key Working? People are finding the short document very useful indeed, so why not take a few minutes and give it a read. You can view it my clicking in the link above.

Thank you for forwarding the brief guide to keyworking to me. I am impressed and this wil be a useful tool in rolling out the keyworking practice with professional partners and valuable in demonstrating to parents and carers what they can expect from the professional team.
Mile buiochas
Tom O’Duidhir
Head Teacher,
Kingsley School,

All Across The Midlands

Fiona Holmes, the West Midlands Regional Facilitator for Early Support is now covering the East Midlands too. Fiona takes over in the East Midlands from Sue Lewis, and she is based with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. With such a huge region to cover she’s contracted Signpost Inclusion to help with some of the organisation and communication tasks that she has to tackle.

For those of you who haven’t met Fiona here’s an initial introduction from her:

I would like to introduce myself as the Early Support Regional Facilitator who is available to work with authorities across the East and West Midlands. There is no charge for my time – it is funded by the Government.

Picture of Fiona Holmes

Fiona Holmes is now Early Support Regional Facilitator for both the East and West Midlands.

If you have not yet heard about Early Support please you can find out more here:

One of the challenges I have is ensuring that Early Support, which is disability focussed, is embraced as a universal approach for children and young people which extends beyond Early Years and Specialist Services. Early Support for Children Young People and Families is an approach that should cut across Health, Adult Services, Social Care, Children’s Services and the Third Sector.

It is also important to know that Early Support for Young People children and families is now a birth – adulthood agenda. It may be of interest to you to note that other authorities have identified that Early Support, as a best practice approach, can useful in supporting and/or responding to the following:

  • Green Paper ‘Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability’. (improved commissioning, personalisation, single plan, parental participation, transition into adulthood)
  • Early Intervention: Next Steps
  • Common Assessment Framework
  • Troubled Families Programme

Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes In practical terms I am available to offer support in the following areas:

  • Assisting with the implementation and embedding of Early Support in your authority, including the promotion of Early Support through awareness raising events in the region
  • Working in partnership with all local agencies including those in health, social services, education and the voluntary sector, as well as with parents/carers and young people to help promote and enable the implementation of Early Support in Warwickshire.
  • Informing, supporting and working with local integrated children’s services, centres, schools and colleges
  • Contributing to the development of Early Support local strategies
  • Advising on Early Support training and workforce development and facilitating the uptake of training in the area
  • Advising on key working, informing you about the key working training available and supporting the development of key working across the region through managers’ workshops and practitioners’ good practice sharing events.
  • Facilitating regional meetings and ensuring a joined up approach
  • Informing all stakeholders about the progress of Early Support nationally.
  • Sharing Early Support materials and supporting their use, particularly the Early Support service planning and improvement materials

To keep up to date `like’ Early Support on Facebook, follow us on twitter @EarlySupport, sign up to our national e-bulletin and check out our website For a more regional focus follow me on Twitter @FiHolmes_ES and of course sign up to our midlands focussed magazine ‘In Principle’ at Part of my responsibility is to do a report on each authority within the Midlands regarding their progress in embedding the Early Support approach. This is fed back to the DfE. I will be contacting you with regard to this in the near future. If you would like further information or a discussion please contact me.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher. health professional, young person, or anyone else with an interest in the needs of children and young people with additional needs, Fiona wants to hear from you and learn how the Early Support principles can help your work.

Why Early Support Is So Important To Me

So, why is Early Support so important?

Isaac and Joshua

Isaac and Joshua

I have 2 boys, aged 3 and 5 both with a diagnosis of ASD.  The eldest also has sensory processing disorder; the youngest has allergies, eczema, eating and sleeping difficulties and laryngomalacia (a floppy larynx in simple terms), and both are under the ophthalmic clinic.  I spend a lot of time in meetings for the boys, with school, pre-school and medical appointments and so have started to see how Early Support (ES) could really help.

Some excellent things we have seen recently from various professionals include school taking a keen interest in ES, and discussions imminent about how to get really involved and use an ES approach, and pre-school taking difficulties very seriously and working with us to ensure all needs are met by them.  We also have a fabulous paediatrician who has even responded to an email by telephoning us, an amazing occupational therapist prepared to visit school and offer them training and an orthoptist who made consecutive eye appointments for the boys.  Many of the professionals understand autism and the challenging behaviour that may be seen at appointments, which means we don’t have to explain ourselves.

We really cannot thank these people enough.  These are some of the Early Support principles in action, and help us so much, especially when we are exhausted and overwhelmed.  A little support goes a long way.

Today however I saw for the first time what happens when it doesn’t come together. I went to an appointment for the youngest about his larynx which causes noisy breathing, and possibly could contribute to his poor eating and sleeping.  I was expecting to be told there was no cause for concern.

The appointment was running 90 minutes late – very challenging with a lively, autistic 3 year old.  When we finally got into the clinic I was staggered that none of his notes from any other clinics were with his records, and so they were completely unaware of any of his other needs including ASD.

The result of the consultation was that he needs to be put to sleep to have his airway examined and then possibly have an operation.  However there are no guarantees things will improve, and of course operations come with a risk.  I wasn’t given any options and we have been put on a waiting list.

I left feeling slightly bewildered; unsure of where to turn, who to ask and what to do next and then it dawned on me.  How can a decision like that be made with no other input from medical experts who know him like a paediatrician, a dietician, an allergy consultant, a dermatology nurse?  And how can we, as parents with no medical knowledge other than our own research, make an informed decision about whether he should be operated on?  We can’t.

Early Support suddenly makes complete sense.  Working in partnership is vital; consultants are only experts in their own field, so surely the opinions of the others who treat him are essential?   We don’t know if his eating and sleeping difficulties are a result of autism or his floppy larynx, or neither of these.  Giving us more information so we can make an informed choice is vital.

I get it now.  I cannot wait until Early Support becomes second nature to all.