Development of Inclusive Holiday Play Provision, Enfield

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Disability
  • General resources

Priorities this local practice example relates to:

  • Improving the well-being of disabled children and young people through improving access to extended services, universal youth services, inclusive play and leisure opportunities, sports and the arts

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

Joint Service for Disabled Children and the Play Development Team

Local authority/local area:

London Borough of Enfield and NHS Enfield Community Services – The Joint Service for Disabled Children and the Play Development Team

The context and rationale

Enfield has a history of promoting inclusion throughout all its services. This ethos was taken one step further in the summer of 2009.

The play service operates after school club provision, holiday play schemes and outreach activities in parks.

Historically, the play service had a lack of knowledge and understanding of the additional needs of disabled children. Although willing and enthusiastic, there was a clear need to develop capacity and expertise.

Until 2001 the play service employed special needs coordinators. It was their responsibility to deal with any issues regarding disabled children. Other members of the team were not being encouraged to deal with situations; they would simply call the coordinator and pass the problem on. 

In 2002 the structure of the service was changed. The senior, deputy and play worker job descriptions were revised. Supporting disabled children to be successfully included was now clearly everybody’s responsibility.

However, it was clear that many children with disabilities were not accessing the provision. We had to look at the reasons why. Work had been mainly focused at an operational level and there was a clear need for strategic direction.

'Aiming High' provided a national direction for change. There was a need for collective responsibility for improving the life chances of disabled children and their families. The Joint Service for Disabled Children, having achieved Short Break Pathfinder status under Aiming High, immediately established more robust and productive links with the Play Development Team. The potential synergies were acknowledged.

Both services agreed to develop a new play scheme, with the express purpose of it becoming a beacon of positive inclusive practice and a model for future service development with a view to extending provision throughout Enfield. Integral to the project was the wish to establish robust and inclusive consultation processes. This was to lead to the formation of an inclusive children and young person’s panel, and to identifying and supporting young ‘consultants’ who could in turn represent disabled children on other forums and further contribute to the consultation around future play spaces and provision in Enfield.

The practice

In the summer of 2008, having agreed a longer-term strategy to provide inclusive play and leisure activities, we ran a pilot project providing six ‘Inclusive Taster Days’ at our mainstream provision.

Children from specialist play schemes were supported to take part in mainstream holiday activities.

Some additional activities were provided: drama, dance and sport. Fifteen children between the ages of five and 13 took part.

Barnet and Enfield Children’s Rights Service was commissioned to consult with the children. Two local primary schools were identified as venues. The visiting children were transported to and from the sites from their regular holiday schemes.

The pilot highlighted the need for:
• More venues with the requisite space so activities could be provided throughout the borough.
• Venues to have a number of small rooms to deliver specific activities, reducing noise levels and ensuring spaces for changing facilities, etc.
• Transport to and from the venues to be organised so as to enable the children to arrive at the beginning of the play-scheme day and leave at the end, so that the young people become a part of the scheme and are not highlighted as only visiting.
• Sharing knowledge and skills and providing ongoing training.
• Staffing levels to reflect the needs of the children.

In the summer of 2009, a local primary school was identified as a suitable building. Aiming High capital funding was utilised to enhance the provision forging a positive relationship with the school and developing it as a centre of inclusive practice.

A new workforce strategy was adopted, with half the workforce coming from a specialist play scheme and half from Enfield’s Play Development Team. Employing staff from a specialist play scheme so there was continuity of care, skills and information sharing, and familiar and trusted faces, counteracted parental anxieties. Staff were trained using a bespoke training programme. Thirty-four children who had previously attended a specialist service attended. Twenty disabled children who had not previously been in receipt of short breaks were also invited.

The measures used were children’s satisfaction, parental satisfaction, staff confidence and morale. 

31 disabled young people benefited from the project at a cost of £87,194 (2009/10). This equates to £2,812 per young person.

Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

Thirty one children spent all summer at the inclusive base. 

We supported 12 children to carry out a consultation with the other children on the scheme. Their satisfaction score for the play scheme came to 4.26 out of five (four being ‘really good’ and five ‘excellent’), and for the activities on offer to 4.15 out of five. 

Our Voice Parent Forum collated responses from 50 qualitative parent questionnaires with an overall outcome of ‘very happy’ with the level of care and the range of activities on offer. Comments included: ‘It was like I had a different daughter for the summer, she was happy to get up each morning and go to the play scheme…for me knowing she was having such a wonderful time made me enjoy my break so much more than in previous years. The activities and the staff were fantastic’.

There were no complaints from parents, no identified bullying and no parents withdrew their children. A number of parents paid for more sessions.

When consulted, staff reported that the new venue promoted a sense of ‘joint ownership’ between specialist and universal provision.

The project links to National Indicators NI54 (measuring parental satisfaction with services for disabled children) and NI110 (young people’s participation in positive activities).

Staff within the Joint Service and generic providers working with disabled children are supported to complete a minimum level of training. A universal induction and training programme has been collectively developed. Twelve basic units form the minimum requirement:

• Working effectively with disabled children who challenge the service
• Inclusion
• Manual handling/back care/hoisting
• Child protection and safeguarding
• Child development
• Risk assessments
• Understanding enteral feeding and administering medication
• Communication disorders
• First aid
• Epilepsy awareness and the administration of medication/paediatric life support
• Disability awareness and equality
• Staff gaining experience across the Joint Service and with partner agencies.

Parents also deliver and receive training.

We have introduced a group of children to the concept of consultation, for which they took responsibility, and they will now be supported to meet as a group, ensuring the voices and views of disabled children are heard and represented in Enfield. They will receive training and support to represent the views of disabled children on other generic young persons’ consultation and participation groups. The launch of this forum took place in November 2009 with 18 young people. All-inclusive services will need to ensure they embed the practice of listening and responding to the views of disabled children and young people.

We will continue to deliver our bespoke training programme, developing the skills, competence and confidence of staff to meet the significant additional needs of disabled children.

We will ensure staff continue to be based in a range of settings, working with children of different ages and with different needs.

We will identify further venues, using existing children’s centres, youth and extended schools provision, to maximise the opportunities for inclusive activities throughout the borough. This will reduce the need for costly transport and ensure the delivery of more ‘local’ provision.

We will continue to develop our strategy with parents, acknowledging their contribution and recognising that they are key to its success. We will ensure our children’s consultation forum is nurtured and developed.

Our longer-term strategy will include developing inclusive provision for under-fives and producing a programme plan for the development of positive activities for disabled young people aged 14 and over. This will be linked to our transition programme and will necessitate ‘joint commissioning’ with our colleagues in Adult Services.

We will regularly provide a progress report to the Children’s Trust, embedding the concept of ‘disabled children are everybody’s business’, developing ownership and accountability at the highest strategic level.

We will operate within an outcomes-based framework, ensuring we ask the ‘So what?’ question in relation to changes in provision for children, parents and service providers.

We wanted to measure children’s satisfaction, parental satisfaction and staff confidence and morale. 

We were successful in measuring children’s enjoyment of the scheme, but we need to record more robustly and report on the experiences of both parents and staff. We also need to ensure that we continue to monitor parental confidence in the provision and staff’s confidence in their ability to deliver. 

We need to publicise any changes we make in response to the 'Our Voice' consultation, ensuring parents appreciate that we are listening and acting on their views. 

The monitoring and recording of children’s, parents’ and staff’s views need to be embedded across all our inclusive provision, so that everyone feels involved and supported, and so that we ensure that we develop a cycle of continuous improvement.

The young people’s consultation forum will become more actively involved in the planning and delivery of provision, ultimately leading to them being involved in staff recruitment. This will provide young people with a level of autonomy for the quality of service delivery.

Helping others to replicate your practice

We evaluated the project in terms of satisfaction levels for children and parents, and for staff in terms of their confidence and morale.

Longer-term evaluation will look at this in more detail with distinct outcomes for children, parents and staff. 

For children, outcomes will assess their sense of self-esteem and belonging, and their ability to make friends and have fun, asking the question 'Are they participating in new activities and do they want to come again?' 

With regard to parents’ confidence in settings, evaluation will be based on questions such as 'Do they feel they have had a worthwhile break? Have they had time to relax and spend time with their other children? Are they willing to use a range of settings as they would ordinarily for any other child? Do the staff make them and their child feel welcome?'

For senior staff and managers, we want to measure their ability to support new staff, demonstrating leadership and generating confidence in their team. We will assess the impact of the training and the experience of working in different settings, asking if they feel confident in responding to children with varying needs and whether they are able to help them access new activities and make friends.

Hot Tips
In developing inclusive provision for disabled children who have previously accessed specialist services, our learning has demonstrated that it is essential to:
• Ensure there is clear ownership at the highest level – collective accountability for disabled children within the Children’s Trust.
• Establish a clear longer-term strategy that includes pathways for children moving from one provision to another.
• Engage with all the stakeholders – children, parents, staff and others, for example, the Site Manager in the building where the provision is to be held.

It is also key to ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to voice their concerns, for example, encouraging parents to use inclusive provision may entail additional costs (parents of non-disabled children pay for play schemes). There may be a need to ensure that parents of disabled children are offered a minimum number of free inclusive sessions as part of their short-break provision, so families are not ‘penalised’ for moving from specialist to inclusive settings. 

Staff delivering the provision need to train together and accept their shared responsibilities. A training programme needs to be established so that new staff are inducted and able to embrace the philosophy of collective accountability.

All potential partners need to be considered and we need to look for synergies, both to maximise any available funding and to make use of existing resources, skills and experience. 


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