Early Years

Special Education Educational and Disabilities in Early Years 0-5 years

Children in Early Years are supported by Chapter five of the SEN and Disability Code of Practice 2015 (the “Code”). It applies to all children in Early Years settings that receive local authority funding (including private/independent providers) whether or not they have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

It emphasises the legal requirement upon Early Years’ providers to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). This could be done through the universal progress checks by a health visitor or health care professional at age two or five, or at any other time.

The SEND Code identifies four broad areas of need:

  • Communication and interaction.
  • Cognition and learning.
  • Social, emotional, and mental health.
  • Sensory and/or physical needs.

Special Educational Provision given to children is called SEND Support. The Code recommends a graduated approach which has four stages of action:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review

SEND Support builds on high quality teaching which has been differentiated and personalised for individual children. The graduated approach should be informed by EYFS materials, the Early Years Outcomes guidance and the Early Support resources. SEND Support is designed to provide a graduated approach based on a cycle of action that can be revisited with increasing detail, increasing frequency and with the increased involvement of parents. Throughout the graduated approach, the practitioner, usually the child’s key person, remains responsible for working with the child on a daily basis and implements agreed interventions. The SENCDo (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator) supports individual practitioners and leads and co-ordinates the graduated approach across the setting. All settings should adopt a graduated approach with four stages of action: assess, plan, do and review. This cycle of action:

  • Is usually led by the key person, supported by the setting SENDCo
  • Parents are engaged throughout
  • Action is informed by the child’s views throughout
  • The cycle can be revisited in order to identify the best way of securing good progress

Throughout the cycle, children’s views can be represented by parents and practitioners, but in order to ensure the child’s views inform the process directly, these need to be captured before any discussion. Whether children communicate verbally or by other means, pictures and objects of reference can be used to promote communication with children about their views and their preferences, both at home and in the setting. These views can be brought to inform discussion and decisions at each stage.

At the same time as assessing Special Educational Needs, the Code encourages settings to consider whether a child may count as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 and may require reasonable adjustments as well as special educational provision.

According to the SEND Code, Early Years settings are advised to involve specialists “where a child continues to make less than expected progress, despite evidence-based support and interventions that are matched to the child’s area of need”. The decision to involve specialists should be taken with the child’s parents (paragraph 5.48).

Records about their children must be available to parents and they must include information about how the setting supports children with SEN and disabilities.

Funding in the Early Years

DAF Funding:

If your child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), aged 3 and 4, and they are in an Early Years’ setting / school nursery but are NOT yet in Reception, they are entitled to a one-off payment per academic year of Disability Access Funding (DAF funding). This one-off payment is £800 (subject to change) which is paid to the Early Years’ / school nursery setting to secure additional support/equipment/training which will help support the child whilst in their care. Please note: DAF funding can only be paid to ONE Early Years setting only so cannot be split between providers.

EYIF Funding:

If your child is on the SEND register and is requiring a higher level of support from their Early Years’ setting / school nursery, the SENDCo can apply for Early Years Inclusion Funding (EYIF) which is to ensure early intervention takes place for children with emerging additional needs.

Many children with SEND will not require additional resources in order to be successfully included in Early Years educational settings; their needs will be met through differentiation of the EYFS framework and through Quality First Teaching (QFT). Evidence demonstrates that many settings meet the additional needs of their children very well. However, some children may require additional resources, equipment, or enhanced staffing, above and beyond that which settings are able to provide through differentiation and QFT alone. When a setting can evidence that they are not able to provide this without access to additional funding, applications can be submitted for EYIF as a contribution towards meeting the needs of the child. Please note, where a child accesses their Early Years Education with more than one provider, any EYIF allocated for that child will be shared on a pro-rata basis. 2 year-olds funding is allocated based on up to 15 hours of attendance and for 3 and 4-year-olds based on up to 30 hours attendance.

Who can I contact if I have concerns about my child?

If you are concerned about your child’s development in anyway, you could contact the following people for advice and support:

  • GP
  • Health Visitor
  • Paediatrician
  • School Nurse
  • Nursery Teacher
  • SENDCo
  • Other professional supporting your child
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