Early years provision and funding

This section will address key issues surrounding early year’s provision and funding. It includes information on:

1. Early years providers

Their responsibilities

- Early years funding

2. Identifying special educational needs in the early years

- Between birth and 2

- Progress checks and plans

- Early years foundation stage profile

3. Support for special educational needs in the early years

- What support should and could involve


- The graduated approach

- Involving specialists


Early year’s providers

Early years providers have a responsibility to:

  • Have arrangements in place to support children with special educational needs and disabilities. This should include a clear approach to identifying and supporting special educational needs.
  • Be alert to emerging difficulties and respond early.
  • 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.
  • Provide information for parents on how the setting supports children with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Take steps to ensure that children with medical conditions get the support required to meet their needs
  • Promote equal opportunities for children in their care.

Funding for early years support

  • The local authority should ensure that funding for early education reflects the need to provide suitable support for children with special educational needs.
  • The local authority is responsible for ensuring that any setting providing funded early education places meet the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Early years providers will evaluate how they can get the most from their resources to support children with special educational needs and disabilities


Identifying Special educational needs in the early years

How are special educational needs and disabilities identified between birth and 2?

At Birth

Children with more complex needs may be identified at birth.

Health assessments

The hearing screening test is used to check the hearing of all new born babies. This enables very early identification of many medical and physical difficulties.


Parents early observations of their child are very important.

Early years progress checks and plans

Early years providers should have arrangements in place that include a clear approach to assessing a child’s special educational needs.

It is also important to note that early years practitioners should regularly monitor and review progress and development of all children in their care.

Progress check

Between the ages of 2 and 3, early years practitioners must review progress and provide parents with a short written summary of their child’s development. This should focus on the child’s:

  • Communication and language.
  • Physical, personal, social and emotional development.
  • Strengths and areas where progress is slower than expected.

Where there are significant concerns (or an identified SEN or disability) practitioners should develop a plan to support the child. This plan must describe where:

  • Good progress is being made
  • Additional support might be needed
  • There is concern that the child might have a developmental delay (which may indicate SEN or disability)
  • Activities and strategies will be used to address issues or concerns

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) profile

This is designed to provide parents, practitioners and key stage 1 teachers with an assessment of the child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities at the end of the early years foundation stage.

  • It is usually completed for children in the final term of the year in which they turn five.
  • It is particularly helpful for children with special educational needs as it should inform plans for future learning and highlight any additional needs requiring support.


Support for special educational needs in the early years

Any support should:

  • Be matched to the child’s special educational needs or disability
  • Aim to address the child’s strengths and needs/ difficulties
  • Be family centred.

The SEND code of practice states:

  • It is particularly important in the early years that there is no delay in making any necessary special education provision. Delay at this stage can give rise to learning difficulty and subsequently to loss of self esteem, frustration in learning and to behaviour difficulties.
  • Where a setting identifies a child as having SEN they must work in partnership with parents to establish the support the child needs.
  • Where a setting makes special educational provision for a child with SEN they should inform the parents.

Support could include..

Specialist support from:

  • Health visitors
  • Educational psychologists
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Specialist teachers


For parents in using early learning programmes. This can help to promote play, communication and language development at home.

Home-based programmes

These help parents support their child’s learning and development.


SENCO stands for special educational needs coordinator. There are setting and area SENCO’s, both of which are explained below.

The setting SENCO

Early years providers such as nursery schools will have a qualified setting SENCO.

 The setting SENCO will ensure that:

  • Everyone working in the early years setting understands their responsibilities to children with special educational needs and their settings approach to support.
  • Support for children with special educational needs is carried out effectively.
  • Parents are involved throughout and that their opinions inform any action taken.

The area SENCO

The area SENCO will:

  • Provide advice, guidance and support to early years providers about approaches to identification, assessment and intervention.
  • Promote and strengthen links between education, health and social care to enable appropriate support for children with special educational needs.
  • Inform parents about local IAS services (SENDIASS).

Graduated approach

A graduated approach should be adopted by all early years settings with 4 stages of action – assess, plan, do, review.

This cycle of action should be revisited frequently to monitor progress. Parents should be engaged with the setting throughout and feel able to contribute their thoughts and opinions on their child’s support, assessment of support and planning. Actions and outcomes should be shared and discussed with parents at agreed times.


Who carries out an assessment?

  • The early years practitioner
  • Setting SENCO
  • Child’s parents

This initial assessment should be reviewed regularly to ensure that support is matched to need.

If a specialist assessment is necessary, this could draw on advice from:

  • Specialist teachers
  • Health, social services or other agencies


Parents should be formally notified of the decision to provide SEN support.

The practitioner, SENCO and parents should agree on the child’s outcomes. The support selected should be designed to meet these outcomes. They should also consider the expected effect of the support on progress and development, and outline a date for review.

Parents should be involved in planning support, and where appropriate, in reinforcing the provision or contributing to progress at home


The early years practitioner is responsible for working with the child on a daily basis. With support from the SENCO, they will oversee the support. Together, they should assess the child’s response to the support and evaluate it’s effectiveness.


The effectiveness of support should be reviewed in line with an agreed date.

The impact and quality of support should be evaluated by:

  • The practitioner
  • The SENCO
  • The child’s parents (and taking into account the child’s views)

Changes to the child’s outcomes and support should be in light of their progress and development

For the review, parents should have information about the support provided and be involved in planning the next steps.

Involving Specialists

If the child makes less than expected progress, despite support, practitioners should, with the parents, consider involving specialists. This might include:

  • Health visitors
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Educational psychologists
  • Specialist teachers

Specialists may be able to identify different strategies to enable the child to make the desired level of progress.


Go back to parent home page

For more information please contact:


01904 554312

01904 555698


York Family Information Service and Information Service for Young People

01904 554444 / 01904 555400


Search for Childcare and Services