0 – 4
From birth to age 4 is an important time in any child’s development. Some children with SEND may have their needs or disabilities identified at this age whereas other children’s needs may not become clear until later.
If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development at this age you should speak to your health visitor or community health worker. You could also visit a local children’s centre, they will help you to support your child’s development at home and give you advice and support. They specialise in supporting parents and carers to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills needed to care for children and give them the best start in life. Children’s centres are free and available to families from before the birth of your child and until your child is 5 years old.
For more information about early years and childcare for all children please go to the Early years and childcare pages. For information about the SEND support available in an Early Years setting (settings include pre-schools, day care providers, child minders and school nursery classes), visit their website or speak to the setting manager. Information about the two maintained nursery schools in Devon can be found on their website and this information should include details about the SEND support the setting offers, its SEND policy and an SEN Information Report.
- Childcare providersSuppport for SEND in Early Years settings
All children aged 3 and 4 are entitled to 570 hours of free early education per year which works out at 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year. Some children are entitled to free early education from the term after their 2nd birthday if they meet particular criteria including entitlement to disability living allowance or if they have an education, health and care plan. Further information can be found at Childcare and in our factsheet Paying for childcare: Special educational needs and disabilities.
When choosing an early years setting, take time to visit and discuss your child’s needs with staff. Most children with SEND should be able to attend mainstream early years settings. If your child has additional needs, you should discuss this with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) or person responsible for children with SEND at the setting.
Early years settings receive funding from the government in order for them to support all children including those with SEND. They can also apply for additional funding to help them provide extra support if the adjustments they make initially are not sufficient. If an early years setting wants to apply for extra funding for your child, they should discuss this with you.
All early years settings, such as nurseries or pre-schools, are responsible for supporting every child’s learning, including children with SEND and they must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. This sets the standard that all Ofsted registered early years providers must meet to make sure that children learn, develop well and are kept healthy and safe.
All early years settings should:
- work in partnership with children and their parents
- help you with ideas to support your child at home
- identify children with additional needs and special educational needs quickly and accurately so that support can be put in place
- notify parents whenever special educational needs provision is being made for their child and give them access to independent information, advice and support
- make sure staff have the knowledge and skills needed to support all children’s learning and development including those with a range of needs
- focus on the quality of early years learning and development opportunities for all children and develop different approaches to meet the needs of individual children
- have a regularly reviewed special educational needs and disabilities policy, which is available to all parents
- use resources fairly, efficiently and in response to identified needs.
When your child attends an early years setting, they are assigned a key person who will be the person in the setting who spends most time with your child. They will keep you up to date about your child’s progress and are the first person to contact if you have any concerns about your child’s learning. Every setting will also have a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) or a member of staff who takes responsibility for children who have additional needs. If your child needs additional support, you will be involved in discussions about this. Additional support should be provided following an ‘assess, plan, do, review’ cycle to make sure that it is effective. For more about this please see our Graduated response information.
Early years providers must carry out a progress check at age 2 to assess your child’s progress in the three prime areas to identify strengths and any areas of concern. They will discuss your child’s progress with you and you will get a written report. If the setting is concerned about your child’s progress, they will request permission from you to discuss this with the health visiting team and possibly consider an integrated review.
In addition to ongoing assessment, all children will have a final assessment when they are five. This is normally carried out by your child’s school at the end of Reception year. This is known as the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile and information and outcomes of this assessment must be shared with parents.
Early years providers may work with other professionals to help your child. See My child has SEND, who will help? to find out more about the services available for different needs.
Nursery Plus is an outreach service which can help your child’s early years setting to provide additional support for your child if they are not reaching age related expectations and meet other criteria.
The Disability Access Fund is new funding for early years providers to support children with disabilities or special educational needs.
Education settings must consider whether a child or young person with SEND needs to have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan written for them. This plan sets out the actions to be taken and by whom to ensure the safety of a child or young person with a disability in the case of an emergency evacuation.