SEN and Disability in the Early Years Toolkit

4Children and the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) produced a toolkit for SEN and disability in the early years. Each section of the toolkit provides a briefing on a particular aspect of the SEN and disability reforms as they apply to early years providers. Each section is based on the statutory requirements and the guidance from the early years, the SEN and the disability frameworks, and draws on a range of relevant practice guidance and other materials to provide an accessible guide to SEN and disability in the early years.
Towards the end of most of the sections of the toolkit is a useful tool, an activity or a reflective task to support practitioners in applying the particular topic to their own setting.
Contents and Outline
Frequently Asked Questions
Statutory Requirements
Universal Inclusive Practice
First Concerns and Early Identification
SEN support in the Early Years – A Graduated Approach
The Role of the Early Years SENCO
Involving Parents and Carers
Working with other professionals and other sources of information and support
Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments and Plans
Transitions for children with SEN and disabilities

SEND Early Years: Useful links and resources


Case Studies

Tracking Progress and the Graduated Approach – North Somerset
Using the graduated approach to meet the needs of children – Elmscot Nursery Trafford
Working in partnership with parents – Dorking Nursery School and Children’s Centre
Supporting children with special educational needs in a PVI setting – City of York
A childminders role in early identification and supporting parents – Childminder, London
Language for life – Hillingdon
Capacity Building – Bolton Council
Building EY capacity to meet needs of children with ASD
Supporting a child with complex needs and his family with childcare
Supporting a family and staff with a child who has SEND


Early years SENCO case studies

Action for Children has compiled a set of five case studies which represent some of the work going on across the country to support children with SEND. These case studies give examples of good practice in relation to the role of the setting SENCO.

Developing a confident workforce
A strategic approach to developing a Birmingham early years workforce confident and competent to deliver an inclusive Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) meeting the requirements of current SEND legislation.

Developing inclusive practice in a newly opened setting
The private day nursery opened to provide funded early education to 2, 3 and 4 year olds on non-domestic premises. An Area SENCO was allocated to the setting who visited soon after opening to explain the support available to the proprietor manager around developing inclusive practice.

Improving whole setting inclusive practice and transition support
The setting was established 30 years ago and aims “to provide a happy, homely and stimulating environment in which children can thrive emotionally and educationally through planned and spontaneous activities”. There are 2 trained setting SENCO’S with a wide range of experience particularly in relation to speech, communication and language needs. They have successfully liaised with parents, speech and language therapists and health visiting teams.

Collaborative approach to support for transition
The early years setting has had involvement from the Educational Psychology and Early Years Service over a number of years based around individual children with SEND who have attended the setting at different times and so they know how to access support as required as well as having excellent relationships with the team. They have a very inclusive ethos within the setting and are prepared to ‘bend over backwards’ to get it right for children and families.

Improving transitions for children with Education Health and Care Plans
The setting is a small charitable trust run term time only for children and families with additional needs. The setting is in a large semi-rural village and takes children from the surrounding villages and nearest town. All children are referred to the setting via health care, early years and family support professionals. The setting has a setting SENCO and a wide range of experienced staff supporting children with SEND.

Early Support’s School Years Developmental Journal
The Early Support Developmental Journals are designed to help families, teachers and other practitioners better support development especially where children or young people have special educational needs and disabilities.  The Journals are easy-to-use tools to help with observing, recording and celebrating progress, and to identify areas where extra help and support may be needed.  All the Journals aim to empower families and put them at the heart of decision-making, supported by a co-ordinated keyworking approach.