Early Years Providers

'must have arrangements to support children with SEN or disabilities. These arrangements should include a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN. The benefits of early identification are widely recognised - identifying need at the earliest point, and then making effective provision, improves long term outcomes for children.'

 DfE and DH (2015) SEN and disability code of practice: 0-25 years, para 5.4 


In addition to the formal checks, early years practitioners working with children should monitor and review the progress and development of all children throughout the early years. Where a child appears to be behind expected levels, or where a child’s progress gives cause for concern, practitioners should consider all the information about the child’s learning and development from within and beyond the setting, from formal checks, from practitioner observations and from any more detailed assessment of the child’s needs. From within the setting practitioners should particularly consider information on a child’s progress in communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional development. 


Where any specialist advice has been sought from beyond the setting, this should also inform decisions about whether or not a child has SEN. All the information should be brought together with the observations of parents and considered with them. A delay in learning and development in the early years may or may not indicate that a child has SEN, that is, that they have a learning difficulty or disability that calls for special educational provision. Equally, difficult or withdrawn behaviour does not necessarily mean that a child has SEN. However, where there are concerns, there should be an assessment to determine whether there are any causal factors such as an underlying learning or communication difficulty. 

Useful links

Government guidelines on SEND in the early years

The Council for Disabled Children's SEN and Disability Toolkit 

Nasen Early Years SEND Resources