Tell Early Suppport what you think about their resources

Early Support General Image

Early Support needs 10 minutes of your time to tell them what you think about their range of resources.

They are gathering feedback on our resources and materials to help inform the next stages of their work. Each survey should take no more than 10 minutes.

If you are a parent, young person or professional please complete this survey.

If you want to complete the feedback on behalf of a group you are part of please complete this survey.

In addition they are collecting specific feedback for the Early Years Developmental Journal. You can complete the survey here.

Thank you for your time.


An introduction to Early Support by Signpost Inlcusion

Do you want to learn about Early Support as a parent, carer, practitioner, professional, school, individual teacher, or simply as an interested individual? Signpost Inclusion can help.

Early Support Rose

Signpost Inclusion have developed a workshop that provides a simple and friendly introduction to the Early Support approach. The workshop will help if you’re new to the concept of Early Support, and the Signpost Inclusion team can supplement the basics with a more personal and in depth insight into the difference it can make to families.

To arrange a workshop in your setting, or to find out where you can attend one as an individual please contact Nikki Reeves at


Information to support non-pathfinder areas published


The SEND pathfinder support team have published a series of introductory information packs, which draw together key emerging principles and case study learning from the pathfinder programme to support other areas to prepare to implement the SEND reforms themselves. These packs, and future iterations, will support the work of the regional champions by demonstrating learning from across the whole programme.

Visit the SEND Pathfinder website to view the packs.

Evaluation of SEND Pathfinder programme published

On June 13th 2013 the Department for Education launched the first of two volumes containing the evaluation findings from the first 18 months of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) pathfinder programme.

Houses of Parliament Image

Twenty Pathfinder sites were tasked to test out the ideas in the original SEN and Disability Green Paper including developing and trialing: an integrated assessment process; a single, joined up ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’; and personal budgets across education, social care and health, and adult services as appropriate for children and young people from birth to 25 years. The Green Paper provided the basis for the SEN clauses within the Children and Families Bill.

This report by Pathfinder Evaluation Team SQW covers the process and implementation evaluation, which describes and analyses the new approaches developed over the course of the programme. It contains data gathered through self-reporting of progress by pathfinders against the Common Delivery Framework and in-depth case study work in 10 selected areas. View a copy of the report at this link.

More detailed information on the pathfinders’ progress is available from the ‘Food for Thought’ pages of the pathfinder support team website at

Over 200,000 extra MMR doses ordered by GP practices for national catch-up programme

More than 95% of GP practices across England have ordered additional vaccine doses – more than 200,000 extra in total.

Vaccination photo

Vaccinating children and teens.

The national catch-up programme to increase MMR vaccination uptake in children and teenagers who are unvaccinated has so far resulted in more than 95% of GP practices across England ordering additional doses of the vaccine – more than 200,000 extra in total.

The catch-up programme, run by Public Health England (PHE), NHS England and the Department of Health, aims to prevent measles outbreaks by vaccinating as many 10-16 year olds as possible.

This age group is the most at risk of measles due to the fall in coverage ofMMR that occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s when concern around the discredited link between autism and the vaccine was widespread.

The catch-up programme aims ensure that at least 95% of 10-16 year olds have received at least 1 dose of MMR. This is estimated to be around 300,000 children (8%). The programme is also keen to reach another third of a million in this age group who need a second dose of MMR to give them full protection, and a further third of a million children below and above this age band who need another dose.

New figures published today by PHE show numbers of confirmed measles cases in England are still high with 288 cases in April (compared to 175 in April 2012), bringing the total number so far in 2013 to 962. This continues the upward trend seen since early 2012 with monthly totals around the highest recorded levels seen since 1994. However MMR coverage among 5 year olds in England is at its highest ever recorded levels, with 94% receiving 1 dose and 90% receiving 2 doses.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said:

Our ambition is to vaccinate 95% of 10-16 year olds at risk in time for the next school year and so the number of extra doses ordered by most GPpractices is very encouraging. The message to parents who think their child may not be fully immunised is to check today and book an appointment with your GP. The vaccine is there waiting to be used and could save your child’s life. Measles is a serious illness and can lead to significant complications, including hospitalisation in more than one in five cases among teens this year.

We are getting regular feedback from the local NHS teams about what is happening on the ground and are encouraged by the very high levels of involvement by GP practices across England. We will shortly be getting results from a new monitoring system that will tell us the number of vaccines received by children.

We are continuing to work closely with NHS partners to ensure we have accurate records of children who have missed vaccination, to help guide effective local decision making about possible additional targeted activity.

In some areas affected by recent local outbreaks, such as the North East and North West, the NHS had already started to run campaigns in schools. In Teesside for example, school based vaccination clinics have been held in over 120 schools, vaccinating more than 2,000 primary and secondary school age children, and in Greater Manchester 32 schools have initiated schools based vaccination programmes, reaching 1,200 children.

Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health, said:

The best way to beat measles is to protect people before measles catches them. It’s encouraging that GPs have taken up the challenge wholeheartedly and ordered almost a quarter of a million extra doses ofMMR, so we know they are ready to vaccinate people. The best thing that parents can do, if their children have not had two doses of MMR, is to make an appointment with the GP now.

In addition to the more imminent risk of measles, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated young people will remain susceptible to infection with mumps and rubella. During the first quarter of 2013 (January – March), there were 948 cases of mumps. So far, we have seen very few cases of rubella (four) but if it were to come back, then it is a particularly serious risk to young women and their unborn babies.

TAC, Keyworkers and Empowerment.

To answer some basic questions parents ask; ‘Why don’t the people helping my child talk to each other?’, ‘Why can’t I have just one special person who helps me join it all together?’ and ‘Whose child is it anyway?’ – important questions because they are often asked of service providers with a high degree of parental frustration and anger.

Team Around The Child Logo


TAC (the Team Around the Child model) has been designed to meet the particular support needs of babies and young children who have an on-going multifaceted condition. Because these children have a range of needs in various developmental areas, e.g. motor, perception, communication, cognition and behaviour, the child and family can find themselves at the centre of confusing networks of service providers.

In this article I want to describe TAC as a successful response to the problematic complexity that can arise and as an example of horizontal teamwork. I will also show how TAC both depends on and supports keyworkers and outline the opportunities TAC brings to give more decision-making power to parents.

Putting it another way, the article and the TAC model answer some basic questions that parents often ask; ‘Why don’t the people helping my child talk to each other?’, ‘Why can’t I have just one special person who helps me join it all together?’ and ‘Whose child is it anyway?’. These are important questions because they are often asked of service providers with a high degree of parental frustration and even anger.

Why don’t the people helping my child talk to each other?

This is a fair question and it would seem both logical and common sense for teachers, therapists, psychologists, nurses, nursery staff, play workers and anyone else working directly with the same baby or young child with a disability to share observations and approaches with each other. In my experience in the UK and other countries many parents experience the opposite; practitioners do whatever it is they are supposed to do separate from each other. The consequence can be a failure to treat the child as whole, contradictory advice, treatment programmes that do not fit together, gaps of unmet need and sometimes too many people doing too many things.

TAC philosophy suggests that a few key practitioners around each child – those with the most practical and regular involvement – agree to meet together every so often for face-to-face discussions. Two major features help define TAC; the child’s parent(s) has a full place in the team and the team membership is restricted to three, four or five people so that it is child- and family-friendly. TAC is not an old-type case conference for all comers.

TAC is a horizontal team because it is freed from vertical or hierarchical management. When a social worker, therapist and teacher, for example, agree to join their efforts together around a particular child none of them can assume the role of team manager. Nor can the culture and working practices of any of these three agencies (social work, therapy/health and education) predominate. This helps define the role of the child’s keyworker (used synonymously here with the term ‘lead professional’) and makes space for the key people around the child to speak up and influence how support is provided.

Why can’t I have just one special person who helps me join it all together?

Perhaps you have heard this question as frequently as I have. It often comes from exasperated parents who are bewildered and overwhelmed by the number appointments, assessments, planning meetings, reviews, etc. they have to keep abreast of. Often the dense scribbling on the calendar on the fridge tells the story. The plea is for one person who is known, liked and trusted by the family to sit with the parent at the centre of the web and help to make sense of it all – help fit it all together so there is maximum benefit to the child and minimum cost to the child and family’s functioning, wellbeing and mental health.

At its worst, under traditional discipline-specific approaches, parents can find themselves lost and disempowered in chaos. This suggests no negative reflection on any practitioner’s expertise, commitment, care or concern for the child and family. While each one of them is working with skill and compassion, the lack of any local co-ordinating system can reduce them, in the eyes of parents, to just one more piece of a jigsaw that is never put together.

In the TAC model, local senior managers work in their own cross-agency horizontal teams to create integrated pathways that will carry each child through the journey of referral, assessment, action planning and support. This strategic effort builds the horizontal landscape between the local ‘vertical’ agencies engendering effective communication and networking, co-ordination of all interventions as far as possible and close collaborative teamwork on each child’s programmes.

The beneficiaries of this effort are child, family and keyworker. The keyworker, instead of being swamped by the same local chaos that disempowers parents, now has a well-organised environment with interagency systems and protocols. Work can now be more effective in supporting the child and family and helping them get the best from the services around them.

The keyworker is typically the facilitator of the child’s TAC, being the one who knows the child and family best and supporting TAC meetings through their agendas. TAC is always a collective effort and each member will take on tasks to avoid the keyworker being overloaded.

Whose child it is anyway?

This is the plea of the parent who wants to be more involved in deciding what is going to happen to their child. They see plans are being made but do not feel they have been allowed to play a part – and do not necessarily agree with what has been decided. Frustration is made worse when they feel none of the practitioners have got to know the child or family very well or listened properly to their aspirations for the child.

The TAC model affords parents a full place in their child’s TAC and, once there, acknowledges the role of the child’s parent with very special knowledge and expertise. Opinions will be actively sought and their voices will be listened to with genuine rather than feigned interest. Parents are an equal member of the TAC and have a full part to play in its horizontal teamwork.

The spirit of TAC is the collective effort; the belief that, when facing very complex issues, two or three heads are better than one. While each person in the TAC brings their own particular skills and expertise, the TAC as a whole represents shared experience, shared concern, shared resourcefulness and shared wisdom. Decisions about a child’s health, wellbeing and, sometimes, survival are likely to be better founded when they come from the child’s TAC rather than from a single person. This authoritative voice of each child’s TAC is built into the workings of the local integrated pathway in recognition that no other group or person has the same degree of knowledge or concern.

Empowerment of parents extends beyond the service to each individual child. Collectively, local parents hold a valuable store of experience, expertise and energy. In TAC thinking, parent empowerment means inviting representative parents into the planning of the local integrated pathway, into the discussions that agree a local vision for what support ought to look like, and into processes for gathering feedback for service development.

I have a repeated experience, in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and Australia of speaking about TAC to groups of practitioners and managers without any parent in sight. These major stakeholders, for whatever reason, are absent from discussions which will surely impact on their lives and on the lives of families coming along. The result is that parents are denied a voice and service managers lose the grounding and dynamism that parents would have brought to the table. When we are planning new service models we should always ask ourselves, ‘Whose children are they anyway?’.

Further reading:

Alexander, S., & Forster, J. (2012). The Key Worker: Resources for Early Childhood Intervention Professionals. Melbourne: ECII. Noah’s Ark Inc.

Dale, N. (1996). Working with families of children with special needs: Partnership and practice. London: Routledge.

Davis, H., & Day, C. (2010). Working in Partnership: The Family Partnership Model. London: Pearson.

Davis, S. (Ed). (2007). Team Around the Child: working together in early childhood intervention. NSW: Kurrajong Waratah.

Limbrick, P. (2003). An integrated pathway for assessment and support: For children with complex needs and their families. UK: Interconnections.

Limbrick, P. (2009). TAC for the 21st Century: Nine essays on Team Around the Child. UK: Interconnections.

Limbrick, P. (2012). Horizontal Teamwork in a Vertical World: Exploring interagency collaboration and people empowerment. UK: Interconnections.

Limbrick-Spencer, G. (2001). The Keyworker: a practical guide. Birmingham, UK: WordWorks with Handsel Trust.

Sitrin, M. (Ed). (2006). Horizontalism: Voices of popular power in Argentina. Oakland, USA: AK Press.


Contact the author



Please note: This essay was first published as a Members’ Briefing Paper in March 2013 in the Equity and Childhood Program of the Youth Research Centre at Melbourne University, Australia.


Support for implementation of the SEND reforms – pathfinder champions

The Department For Health and the Department For Education have written to the SEND Pathfinder authorities provides an update on the Children and Families Bill and the steps they will need to take to prepare for implementation of the SEND reform. The letter which on May 8th 2013 went to Directors Of Children’s Services, Directors of Adults Services, Heads of SEN, and Parent Carer Forums says:

Dear colleague,

We are writing to inform you about the work of the pathfinder champions, and how they can support your local area to prepare for implementation of the reforms to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system, across the 0-25 age range, including the improvement of transition to adult services. Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, announced the appointment of the champions in March, and they are now beginning work in every region.

Preparing for implementation of the SEND reforms The Children and Families Bill recently progressed through House of Commons committee stage, with the clauses in part three on SEN being thoroughly scrutinised. Subject to Parliamentary approval, we expect the legislation to come into force from September 2014. There are significant organisational and workforce challenges for many areas to overcome in implementing the reforms in a way that will have the greatest impact on children and young people.

The experience of the SEND pathfinders has shown that the workforce development and culture change needed to implement the reforms takes time, typically over a year. In particular, services and professionals across 8 May 2013 
education, health and care for children and adults need to work together closely, putting families and young people at the centre of assessment and planning. The proposals for joint commissioning, a local offer and personal budgets require a strategic approach to planning services and market development, based on clear understanding of the needs of children, young people and families.

There is a growing body of learning from the SEND pathfinders that the new approaches they are trialling are making a real difference to the lives of children, young people and families. There are 20 pathfinders in England, each a partnership between local authorities (of which there are 31) and the health service. They have been working since autumn 2011 and strong progress has been made overall. The pathfinder programme has been central to informing the Children and Families Bill and the development of the SEND indicative regulations and indicative Code of Practice (published in March). More information on the pathfinder programme can be found in a report published by DfE in March 2013, available at: paper/pathfinders

The pathfinder champions’ role

We have heard clear messages from local areas that they would value practical advice and support in preparing for implementation. Champions have been selected from the existing cadre of SEND pathfinders, on the basis that they have already made strong progress in developing their pathfinder programme and have the experience and capacity to advise and support non- pathfinder areas. The nine champions are formed from 13 pathfinders across 20 local authority areas. A list of the champions is at Annex A, and details on the role of the champions and what other areas can expect from them is at Annex B. In summary, the champions will provide a mixture of information, advice and support, through online support, regional seminars and events, and 1-1 support.

In appointing the champions, we recognise that many other areas, pathfinders and non-pathfinders, are themselves making significant progress in implementing the SEND reforms. The focus of the champions is to share and promote examples of good, emerging practice from all areas. We hope that all areas will be able to engage with the pathfinder champions in a spirit of collaboration.Although champion funding is provided to local authorities, the work of the pathfinder champions should include the range of partners with a key role in implementing the SEND reforms, including representatives of parents, children and young people, early years providers, schools, post 16 institutions, the health service, and VCS partners as well as local authorities (including both education and social care services for children and adults). It is important that these partners are represented at regional events.

The champions’ work forms a crucial part of a suite of support and advice available to all areas to implement the SEND Green Paper reforms. Further information on other support and co-ordination will be available soon, particularly the appointment of the Strategic Reform Partner for SEND.

Contacting pathfinder champions

We know that in some regions, local areas are already engaged with the work of the pathfinder champion through existing regional networks. In other regions, initial mapping activity is taking place to enable full engagement and champions will be contacting each area in the coming weeks. If you are unsure who to contact regarding the pathfinder champion work in your region, please liaise with Mott MacDonald (our contracted pathfinder support team) in the first instance. They can be contacted at or 020 7651 0308. Mott MacDonald will also be able to assist in securing pathfinder champion representatives to speak at events. We look forward to continuing to work with you on this important agenda. Yours sincerely,

We look forward to continuing to work with you on this important agenda.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Kingdom, Deputy Director, Special Educational Needs and Disability Division, Department for Education

Caroline Bicknell, Deputy Director, Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Policy Division, Department for Education

Karen Turner, Deputy Director, Delivery Programmes Children, Families & Maternity Department of Health


Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Families with disabled children share their lives, hopes and journeys on Community TV Programme.

Include Me TOO in partnership with Sangat TV are producing several community programmes with BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) families with disabled children and young people.

Include Me Too and Sangat

Include Me TOO are working in partnership with Sangat TV.

The first programme was aired on Tuesday 14th May 2013 on Sky Channel 847 (Sangat TV). In this programme Asian parents with disabled children shared their families’ journeys and provide personal testimonies which include discussing their hopes, faiths and strengths. The programme was the first of several which will provide greater awareness and understanding regarding families with disabled children from BAME communities; aiming to remove barriers of ignorance and encouraging communities to talk about disability, inclusion, equality and respect. Programmes to be aired in the future include BAME parents sharing their experiences of having children with autism and fathers discussing issues that matter to them in regards to having a disabled child.

For any further information please do get in contact with Include Me TOO by email or on 01902 399888 / 01902 711604

Putting The App On Trial

Those who have been spreading the word about the Early Support app have been telling anyone who will listen about the way that it puts the Early Support approach and principles into practice in one handy tool; this is social networking with knobs on, and with a hefty padlock provided.

It is designed to be a way for families to save all the important information about their child, in one place, and to enable them to share the information that they want with professionals and family.

However, frustratingly, the release of the final version has been put back a couple of times. Zoe Davies has been testing out the beta version. Here she tells us whether it’s going to be worth the wait.

The Early Support App is very easy to use and with the frequent developments information is becoming easier and easier to input. The App allows a parent carer or young person to ‘own’ it and so they are very much in control of the information held and can present it in a way suitable to their needs. It also allows the family to ‘invite’ professionals and family members to access information they would like to be shared. Messages can be sent to these people, saving time on telephone calls, where frequently the person is unavailable and messages have to be left.

Early Support App Image

The Early Support App allows the focus to be about the ‘whole’ young person rather than just their difficulties, which is often the emphasis of meetings.

The information allows the focus to be about the ‘whole’ young person rather than just their difficulties, which is often the emphasis of meetings. Photos and video clips can also be added, which makes the App very personal and allows a professional to have more insight into a young person than just being told does would.

The App has a calendar on it which is brilliant for appointment tracking and a timeline, which is very useful for recording key events. This again is great for focussing attention on achievements rather than just difficulties, which traditional paper records do not include.

The story about the young person does not have to be repeated every time there is an appointment or meeting and information is available without having to carry folders of reports everywhere. It also, very importantly, means that vital information can be shared between services so that nothing is missed. All too often reports sent via post do not make it to the right person in time for a meeting, meaning valuable appointment time is wasted revisiting information that should have been available.

I will definitely be recommending the App. It will make life so much easier; allowing information to be shared instantly and to be on hand whenever it is needed. It will save time preventing retelling the same story and allow meetings to be far more efficient as old ground will not have to covered again. It also brings attention away from difficulties and back to celebrating what the young person is actually capable of.

The Early Support App runs on Apple iPads and is also available through a web browser on a computer or mobile device. Training sessions will be on offer as soon as the App is released. Get in touch with us here at In Principle if you’d like to know more about that.



Free Legal Rights Workshop

Contact A Family are organising a free Legal Rights Workshop for parents and carers of disabled children, and also for people who wok with them.

The workshop which is scheduled for July 4th aims to provide a straightforward and accessible guide to how the law can help you, and those you care for, get the care, support or public services that are needed.

Legal Rights Workshop Flyer

The workshop will be held at Blaby Village Hall. Although it is free to attend you’ll need to book your place by phoning the Contact A Family Midlands office on 0121 415 4624.