Maureen Donovan, early childhood development specialist at ACE centre, Chipping Norton
"From when I first came to the centre, I realised that parents were more likely to talk to me openly if they didn't feel they were identifying themselves as having a child with special needs, so I don't call myself a Senco. My role is to ensure that any special needs are identified and interventions made as early as possible so that children don't experience frustration as they take their first step into the world outside the family.
A few children come with identified needs or disabilities, but there is another group who are puzzling and who may be exhibiting difficult behaviour. I work with staff observing. It's important to keep an open mind while trying to get to the root of the problem, and to put strategies in place, or differentiated activities, that will help.
I've been working here two days a week and my mornings start with post, phone calls, messages from parents. I try to spend Mondays with the LEA nursery and Tuesdays with the day nursery. I attend staff meetings, see parents and from 3pm I'm around for the after-school club and family centre.
In the nurseries, I'll talk to staff about the children on our concern list, about what's working and what is not. I'll check resources, or do observation training with staff.
One of the joys of the job is being able to do the training and still work with children. It's an interesting job because you are always nutting out a puzzle, finding the missing piece for a child experiencing difficulties. If you are able to do something that brings a child on, I can't tell you how much gratitude you get from the parents: there's nothing like it."