SEN support (Early Years Practitioners)


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SEN support in the early years 

Identifying the child needs is the first step to putting together an action plan to improve the outcomes for the child. 

How can the practitioner support child and parent/carer

When a child appears not to be making progress either generally or in a specific aspect of learning, it may be necessary to present them with different opportunities or use alternative approaches to learning. Difficulties that persist may indicate the need for a level of help above that usually available for all children in the school or setting. The child may need planned interventions to support them to meet the same level of learning as their peers. Additional support from within the school or setting’s owns resources may be required.

It is important to remember that all children develop at varying rates, particularly in the early years. There will be many typically developing children who may not be at their chronological age level in some steps and this will not be a cause for concern.

Special consideration may need to be given to other factors which may be affecting child development but do not necessarily indicate a need for SEN Support. For example limited previous experiences, home circumstances, English as an additional language, refugee status, minor medical issues such as glue ear, looked after status and during periods of rehabilitation.

The four-part 'graduated approach'

This approach is designed to help you decide on the levels of support and type of action to be put in place for children in your school or setting: 


The early years practitioner or SENCO should work in collaboration with parent/carers to identify the cause of any learning difficulty or delay.


Talk to the child's parents/carers about the extra help you think is needed and seek more information if required. For example, you may feel the advice of an educational psychologist on how best to help the child might be advisable. There should be a written plan setting out this support.


The educational setting would normally use some of their funding to give support to children who need extra help. The support may be in the form of:

  • Some changes to the EYFS

  • Special equipment or teaching materials

  • The use of additional information technology

  • Small group work/one-to-one

  • Support in the classroom (for example a Learning Support Assistant LSA)

  • Have quiet time to learn away from the classroom

If the child still doesn’t improve in his/her areas of learning, the educational setting could look into buying additional support. This may include assessment and advice from professionals, for example:

  • Speech and Language Therapist

  • Occupational Therapist

  • Education Psychologist

  • Special school outreach services such as hearing impaired, autism, visually impaired.

Please have a look at the 'Funding' Section for further information about the funding available to settings to support children with SEND.


The child’s progress should be monitored by the education setting and should be reviewed at least 3 times every year. You should meet with the child's parents/carers  each time to set targets and monitor progress. If the child has not made progress compared with other children of the same age, it’s important to understand the reasons for this.

Please find a sample SEN Support Flowchart here.

Please access the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) SEN Support Toolkit here

Contact us:

The Bi-Borough Early Education and Childcare Advisory team can support you if you have concerns about a child.

Please contact the Bi-borough Early Education and Childcare Service (BBEECS) and Inclusion Advisory Team:

Bi-Borough (EECS) and Inclusion Advisory Team

Related Links

  1. SEND CoP 2015
  2. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014
  3. Children and Families Act 2014 - SEN in Mainstream Education

Page last reviewed: 23/03/2024

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