Practitioners Perspectives: Maria Burns

Maria Burns is a SEND coordinator supporting families of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (or emerging need) and the settings those children attend. She shares the impact the pandemic has had on this area and other interesting insights.

We spoke to Maria and asked her to explain a bit about what she does, how this has been impacted by the pandemic and what makes a good SENCO.

Tell us what you do and the support or training you provide.

I support families of children with SEND (or emerging need) and the settings those children attend. I work holistically between the child, families and settings to make sure we are working to achieve high outcomes for those children.

 What are the specific needs and challenges your clients are facing and how have these been affected by Covid?

Covid has drastically slowed down they process of identifying needs and getting funding and support for these children. This is intensely frustrating for the families involved as well as the child’s setting. Hopefully, we can offer some support in that interim waiting time.

Have you had to develop or change your own offer to meet the changing needs of your clients this year?

To be honest, as a non-driver the rise of virtually delivery has been vital for me, this is something I have always wanted to do but needed to platform to do so and so that’s been a really bonus. 

Do you have any top tips or advice you can share with us?

You have to absolutely focus on what is important to the child you are supporting. By that I mean, what really matters to them, use that and make it the centre of everything you do. 

What impact to you predict Covid will have long term in (service area)?

The affects of Covid for children with SEND cannot be underestimated. Not only will there have been huge anomalies in the type of provision children are experiencing but also an enormous backlog of new referrals. It’s going to be a massive task to overcome and the Early Years sector needs to pull together to do so. 

Are there any positive change are you seeing coming out of the pandemic?

As I said, for me the increase of virtual options means I can reach more families and more children with ease. I hope!

 How would someone choose a credible practitioner? What do they need to look out for?

You need to see some Early Years training, a Level 3 is a good start, but anything more is great. Then I would be looking to see what they are doing outside of work, are they supporting charities, working in support groups, sharing links/petitions etc. Early Years Sencos do not work for money (the sector is woefully underpaid) so a good practitioner will likely be doing lots of things out of sheer passion!

Keywords: SEND SENCO Special Needs Special Educational Needs Pandemic youth support children families

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