Support for SEND

SEN Support in early years - ages 0 to 5

Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to most of the other children of the same age.

The purpose of early years SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the preschool or nursery in collaboration with the parents/carers.

Early years SEN support and the law

All preschools and nurseries funded by the local authority are required to be aware of the SEND Code of Practice and meet the needs of children with SEND. All preschools and nurseries whether funded by the local authority or not are required to comply with the Equality Act 2010. This means they must not discriminate against your child and they must make reasonable adjustments to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage.

This guide aims to help you to make sure that your early years child with SEND is being treated fairly: Disabled Children and the Equality Act 2010 for Early Years - CDC

Early years SEN Support must be available in all mainstream early years settings which get funding from Buckinghamshire Council. To find out about the SEN provision the preschool or nursery makes, you can check their website and speak to their Special Educational Needs Coordinator.

Early years SEN Support - help or provision

Early years SEN support can take many forms, including:

  • a special learning programme for your child
  • extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • making or changing materials and equipment
  • working with your child in a small group
  • observing your child and keeping records
  • helping your child to take part in activities
  • making sure your child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions and to try something they find difficult
  • helping other children work with your child, or play with them
  • supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around safely, toileting or dressing
  • advice and/or extra help from specialists such as specialist teachers, educational psychologists and therapists
  • When preschools or nurseries want to call in specialists they should discuss and agree this with parents

A graduated approach

When your child is identified as having SEN, the preschool or nursery should use a graduated approach. This is a cycle of four steps.

These steps are:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review

Funding for Early Years children with special educational needs and/or disabilities

SEN Support plans should include information about the total hours of support or cost of the support. Ask the education provider for this information if you need it and do not have it.  Remember that if the child has been taught in a small group, only a proportion of the hours or cost will benefit them e.g. A child or young person in a group of 4 for one hour per week will benefit from 15 minutes of small group support per week which is 25% of the total cost.

Buckinghamshire, like all local authorities, is required to have a Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund (SENIF) to support funded 3 and 4 year-olds with SEN, who are taking up their free entitlement.

In Buckinghamshire it may also be used to support funded 2-year-olds with SEND and children with SEND starting in reception classes in mainstream schools .

For more information see the Early Years SEN Inclusion Fund page.

Reasonable adjustments for disabilities should not be charged to individual parents/carers. Providers should adjust their fees for all parents/carers to absorb these costs. The Disability Access Fund helps funded providers make those reasonable adjustments within their provision to support children aged 3 - 4 with a disability.

Some early years children with SEND may also be eligible for the Early Years Pupil Premium

More detailed information about early years funding in Buckinghamshire is available from the Information and guidance page.

When Early Years SEN Support is not enough

Think about what the education provider has already done. For example:

What evidence is there of the graduated approach? For example:

  • reviewed SEN Support plans
  • information about the total hours of support or cost of the support from the last year.

Could the education provider do more from their own resources?

  1. Has the child been mostly taught on their own, on a part time timetable for more than 6 weeks or even excluded? These may be indicators that the current help isn't  enough to enable the child to be included in activities with other children
  2. Have they had a lot of help but not made progress?
  3. Is the education provider giving  the child  more help than they have resources for, so the help might have to stop? What would be the impact on the child if the help stops?
  4. Maybe everyone agrees the child requires additional support, but it has not been provided, because it is not available without an Education, Health and Care plan
  5. Perhaps the education provider has been providing a great deal of help under SEN Support and now the child is due to move to another education provider which will not be able to give the same level of support, or has a different environment which the child will find very difficult without more help than the education provider can give

Sometimes the next step may be to ask the local authority for an EHC needs assessment. If the preschool  or nursery decides to do this they must involve you. If you think it is needed you can ask for it yourself.