Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the EYFS

What are my responsibilities to early years children with SEND?

All early years providers are required to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with SEND and to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care.

The SEN code of practice is a statutory code that contains:

  • details of these legal requirements that you must follow without exception
  • statutory guidance that you must follow by law unless there’s a good reason not to

The Early Years Outcomes is an aid for practitioners to understand the outcomes they should be working towards.

The SEND toolkit for early years has been developed to help Early Years providers understand SEND reforms. 

What support can I access in Northamptonshire?

The Local Offer

Use our Local Offer to search for services available for children and young people (aged 0 to 25 years) with special educational needs and disabilities.

Search the Local Offer

Inclusion Network Meetings

Inclusion Network Meetings are a chance to catch up on the latest information, network with other SENCo’s or Inclusion managers and update on information on a specific focus chosen by the participants at the initial meeting at the beginning of the academic year. They are held in each of the four areas of the county.

Portage and SEND early years support

The Portage and SEND Early Years Team supports children aged 0 to 4 years who have additional educational needs, developmental delay or disability. They can offer a range of support alongside other specialist services. eg education psychology, sensory impairment service.

These services can only be accessed if children meet the eligibility as described in the Northamptonshire SEN descriptors below.

If you wish to request involvement for a child from Portage and SEND Early Years, Educational Psychology Service or Sensory Impairment Service you will need to complete the online ‘’request for involvement’ form, which can be found on our portage page under 'How can I request involvement for a child?'.

Children with SEND may also meet the eligibility for high needs funding. Please visit the High Needs Funding page for further information.

Referral Management Centre (RMC)

The Referral Management Centre (RMC) offers a single point of access for professionals wishing to make referrals for children and young people​ with health needs.

Resources to support early years children with SEND

The following learning resources have been designed for early years practitioners working with children with SEND.

SEND code of practice

Guidance on the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system for children and young people:

​The training materials below can support your understanding of inclusion and SEND obligations in Early Years as outlined in the above SEND code of practice.

Learning activities

Use the materials below to set up group learning activities to help you better understand the SEN code of practice.

Activity 1

Activity 2

Activity 3

Activity 4

SEND toolkit

The SEND tool kit for Early Years has been developed by the council for disabled children and 4 children to support Early Years providers understand the SEND reforms.

The documents below have been designed to help childcare providers working with young children who need speech, language and communication support.

Provision maps are a tool to support practitioners to evidence the effectiveness of interventions and the financial impact. Please refer to the introduction to provision mapping and provision mapping process documents below for further information.

The documents below are case studies and provision maps from settings in Northamptonshire.

Acorn Childcare UK - Northampton

Croyland Nursery school - Wellingborough

Little Fishes pre-school Brackley

Little Wiggles pre-school Northampton

Oakey Dokey Chilcare Corby

Samuels Christian Nursery Northampton

​A PEEP should be completed for any child who requires assistance with any aspect of emergency evacuation.

It should

  •  describe the child’s intended means of escape in the event of an emergency, including drill  
  • specify what type of assistance is agreed and how it is to be maintained to ensure the child’s continued safety and should include assistance required from the point of raising the alarm to passing through the final exit of the building.
  • be coordinated by the SENCo or Manager and a copy of the completed form kept:     
            In the child’s personal records
            By the Manager/ SENCo/Designated Person for health and safety for each building/room identified.  

The plan must be reviewed on an annual basis at least and when a significant change in circumstances (of the building or child) is anticipated or identified.

You can find a blank copy of the form below.

Points to consider:

In preparation for completing details on PEEP, consider the following:

  • Does the child change rooms during the course of the day, which takes them to more than one location within the building and/or other buildings?
  • Does the child have difficulties identifying signs that mark the emergency exits and evacuation routes to emergency exits?
  • Does the child use visual structure e.g. photo keyrings, to support understanding of evacuation and reduce anxiety around change of routine/loud noise etc?
  • Name of child’s 1:1 support person(s) and who will provide support if this adult isn’t in.
  • Does the child have any difficulties hearing the fire alarm or visual difficulties that require support to see the exits/follow the routines etc?
  • Does the child follow adult direction and if not, what support will be available to help him/her safely evacuate?
  • Are they likely to experience problems independently travelling to the nearest emergency exit? Think of steps/furniture/other obstacles that may prevent exit
  • Does the child find stairs difficult to use?
  • Are they dependent on a wheelchair or other equipment for mobility?

Your SEND policy needs to be reviewed annually and sent to the local offer team so that your setting can be on the Local Offer.

Other resources

  • Twinkl - SEN early years resources
  • TTS - supporting SEN children with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia
  • Early Learning HQ - a range of resources specifically aimed at young children with SEN