Down Syndrome Liverpool and the SENISS service jointly provided training for Education Support Assistants working with children in Liverpool’s schools, both primary and secondary.
This was in response to concerns expressed by both Down Syndrome Liverpool and SENISS, about how children and young people with Down syndrome in Liverpool’s mainstream schools could best be supported.
This is both an issue for those children in schools now and also for the increasing numbers of children who have Down syndrome who are expected to enter reception classes in the near future.
After several meetings held between DSL and SENISS it was agreed that working together would be the best approach to this. DSL had obvious links to the National Down’s Syndrome Association and the expertise of their trainers. SENISS had access to the resources of the local authority.
Consequently DSL provided the funding for the trainers and worked with the national association to put together a training programme for ESA’s. SENISS paid for and provided the venue, the refreshments and the organising of the ESA’s to be there on the day.
The training took place in Toxteth Annex on January 28th. Over ninety participants attended the event, including speech therapists who are also working with our children and young people. The training was delivered by experts in their fields – Dr Stephanie Lorenz, Cecilie Mackinnon, Sandy Alton and Julie Wagge from Symbol UK.
They covered a wide range of issues that impacted on the learning of children who have Down syndrome. The learning profile of children with Down syndrome was addressed by Cecilie MacKinnon and the communication profile by Julie Wagge. This provided the context for a series of workshops designed to give practical advice on the following areas:
• Promoting Age Appropriate Behaviour
• Addressing Specific Aspects of Speech Language and Communication
• Reading and Writing Primary
• Promoting Positive Behaviour
• Transition to Secondary School
Feedback from the event has been extremely positive, both officially through the evaluation received by DSL from the day and also anecdotally from conversations with parents and ESA’s. At a time when we are working hard to raise funds and succeeding in doing so, we need to be identifying where those funds are best spent in terms of having most impact.
There is no doubt in the minds of the trustees that this has been money well spent.
We also need to be developing our relationship with service providers not only being critical when we think they are getting it wrong, and advocating on behalf of children and families. We also need to be developing partnerships when we can in the best interests of children, young people and families maximising our joint resources and ensuring our children get effective services delivered by properly trained staff.
The ESA training in this respect should not be seen as a one off but the possible springboard to other such joint initiatives.