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Early years SEN support (area wide offer)

All children are entitled to an education that helps them to achieve the best possible results or outcomes.

This education should also help them to be:

  • confident and able to communicate their own views
  • ready to move into compulsory education

When securing funded early education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, we promote equality and inclusion for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

This includes removing barriers that prevent children from accessing early education, and working with parents to give each child the help they need to meet their potential.

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) is the statutory framework for children aged 0 to 5 years.

Unless an exemption has been granted, all early years providers must follow the EYFS requirements for:

  • safeguarding and welfare
  • learning and development

Early years providers must:

  • have arrangements in place for meeting the needs of children with SEND in their care
  • review children’s progress and share a summary with parents

Buckinghamshire’s graduated approach sets out how all children with SEND may have their needs met, not just those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

In line with the SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years, the graduated approach aims to ensure all children get an appropriate education that:

  • is relevant to their needs
  • promotes high standards and the fulfilment of potential

The role of SENCOs

Early years settings that educate groups of children are expected to have a special education needs co-ordinator (SENCO).

The role of a SENCO involves:

  • ensuring early years practitioners understand their responsibilities to children with SEND, and approaches to identifying and helping with SEND
  • advising and supporting colleagues
  • ensuring parents are closely involved and that their opinions are listened to and acted on
  • liaising with professionals or external agencies

Parents know their children best, and it is important that practitioners listen and understand when parents express concerns about their child’s development.

They should also listen to and address any concerns raised by children themselves.

Written assessments

There are 2 points when written assessments can be made available to parents and other professionals. This is when a child is aged:

Progress check at age 2

When a child is aged between 2 and 3, early years practitioners review progress and provide parents with a short written summary of their child’s development, focusing on:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development

This progress check identifies the child’s strengths, and where their progress is slower than expected.

If there are significant concerns, or SEND is identified, a graduated approach will be used to support the child. This will highlight where:

  • good progress is being made
  • some additional support may be needed and what this looks like
  • there is a concern that a child may have a developmental delay (which may indicate SEND)

The graduated approach includes activities and strategies adopted by early years providers to support children over time.

Involving appropriate specialists could be considered if a child:

  • has an already identified need
  • continues to make little or no progress over a sustained period, despite action by their early years setting

The decision to involve specialists should be taken along with the child’s parents.

EYFS profile

The EYFS profile, which is for children in the final term of the year in which they turn 5, provides parents, practitioners and teachers with a rounded picture of a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities.

It is helpful for children with SEND, so we can help plan for future learning and support.

Where EYFS indicates that a child is not progressing as expected, or where their progress gives cause for concern, practitioners should consider all the information about the child’s learning and development.

Where specialist advice has been sought, this will also inform decisions about whether or not a child has special educational needs (SEN).

All the information should be brought together in consultation with parents.

Identifying and assessing SEN for young children whose first language is not English requires particular care.

Early years practitioners should look at all aspects of a child’s learning and development to establish whether any delay is related to learning English, or if it arises from SEND.

Special education provision should match the child’s identified SEN. There are 4 broad areas of need and support:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health difficulties
  • sensory and or physical needs

The SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years advises that practitioners should focus on the prime areas when looking at the progress of children with SEND:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development

However, individual children often have needs that cut across all these areas, and their needs may change over time.

For instance, speech, language and communication needs can also be a feature of a number of other areas of SEN, and children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have needs across all areas.

The special educational provision made for a child should always be based on an understanding of their strengths and needs, and seek to address them all.

Support should be family centred, and should consider the individual family’s needs and the best ways to support them.

Where it is decided to provide SEN support, the practitioner and the SENCO should agree, along with the parent or carer:

  • the outcomes they are seeking
  • the support to be put in place
  • the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour
  • a clear date for review

The graduated approach should be used, which may lead to the development of a SEN support plan.

The graduated approach and SEN support plans should also take into account the views of the child.

Parents should be involved in planning support and in contributing to progress at home.

Where an early years setting has taken actions if the child’s needs are likely to be long term and complex (and involved relevant specialists), but the child has still not made good progress, the setting may consider requesting:

At any stage an early years provider can speak to an Early Years SEND Advisor by booking a consultation at one of the termly Early Years SENCO liaison groups that run throughout the county (currently delivered virtually).

Early years foundation state profile assessments 2021

Ministers have decided it will not be mandatory to complete the EYFS profile assessment in 2021, but instead we will be asking schools to make ‘best endeavours’ to undertake it.

This is in recognition of the additional pressures and uncertainties that teachers are facing during this challenging time. This also aligns with the approach on KS1 and KS2 assessments this year.

However, we recognise that the EYFS profile is a valued assessment by teachers and early years professionals, and is a crucial tool in supporting children’s development and the transition from reception to year 1.

It is for that reason we will be asking teachers and early years practitioners to use their best endeavours to still complete the EYFS profile for children in the summer term if possible, and to provide this important information to parents and to year 1 teachers, should the situation at the time allow.

This will be a judgement for schools and teachers depending on their individual circumstances, and will in many cases depend on the coming weeks and months.

We know many schools found they could complete the EYFS profile in 2020, particularly due to its nature as a teacher-led assessment.

Schools who decide they are able to complete the EYFS profile this year and provide this information to parents and year 1 teachers will not be subject to statutory external moderation.

There will be no requirement to submit data to the local authority or to confirm whether they have completed the EYFS profile to the Department for Education.

This change applies to schools who are early adopters of the EYFS reforms, as well as schools who are following the current statutory framework.