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SEND What to expect from your early years provider

Boy blowing bubbles

A school must have a qualified teacher as a SENCO to make sure appropriate support for children with SEN is put into place. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework requires other early years providers to have arrangements in place for meeting children’s SEN. Group settings, such as a day nursery or preschool playgroup, are expected to identify a SENCO.

The role of the SENCO involves:

  • ensuring all practitioners in the setting understand their responsibilities to children with SEN and the setting’s approach to identifying and meeting SEN
  • advising and supporting colleagues
  • ensuring parents are closely involved throughout and that their insights inform action taken by the setting
  • liaising with professionals or agencies beyond the setting 


Identifying and assessing children's needs

Early years practitioners working with children should monitor and review the progress and development of all children throughout the early years. 

Where a child appears to be behind expected levels, or where a child’s progress gives cause for concern, practitioners should consider all the information about the child’s learning and development from within and beyond the setting, from formal checks, from practitioner observations and from any more detailed assessment of the child’s needs. Where any specialist advice has been sought from beyond the setting, this should also inform decisions about whether or not a child has SEN. All the information should be brought together with the observations of parents and considered with them. 

All early years providers are required to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with SEN or disabilities and to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care. These requirements are set out in the EYFS Framework

A graduated approach to meeting special educational needs

A graduated approach is a model of action and intervention in early education settings, schools and colleges to help children and young people who have special educational needs. It recognises that children learn in different ways and can have different kinds or levels of SEN. So increasingly, step by step, specialist expertise can be brought in to help with the difficulties that a child may have. Our Graduated Approach Guidance document explains the provision for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) which should be available. The Graduated approach guidance also provides the threshold for access to the high needs funding block. 

Services that support early years providers

There is a wide variety of services across education, health and social care that provide advice about children with SEN or who are disabled. These services offer training, advice and guidance to early years providers, other services, parents and carers:

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