Services for Young Children

Special Educational Needs Code of Practice

A child has a special educational need (SEN) if he or she has a learning difficulty, which calls for special provision to be made for him or her.

The current SEN Code of Practice defines a child with a learning difficulty as a child who has greater difficulty learning than the majority of children of the same age or has a disability which prevents or hinders the child from making use of educational facilities provided for children of the same age.

Graduated Approach

The Code of Practice provides more specific advice regarding the types of SEN a child may present with. For example a child may have an SEN if he or she:
  • continues to make little or no progress in specific areas over a long period of time
  • continues working at curriculum substantially below that expected of children of a similar age
  • has emotional or behavioural difficulties which substantially and regularly interfere with the child’s own learning or that of the group, despite having an individualised behaviour management programme
  • has sensory or physical needs and requires additional equipment or regular visits for direct intervention or advice by practitioners from a specialist service
  • has ongoing communication or interaction difficulties that impede the development of social relationships and cause substantial barriers to learning.
Once the practitioners have identified that a child in their care has special educational needs, the setting should intervene through Early Years Action (EYA).If the intervention does not enable the child to make satisfactory progress the SENCo may need to seek advice and support from external agencies. These forms of intervention are referred to as Early Years Action Plus (EYAP).For a few children the help given at Early Years Action Plus will not be sufficiently effective to enable the child to progress satisfactorily. It will then be necessary for the setting, in consultation with parents and any external agencies already involved, to consider whether a Statutory Assessment may be appropriate. This could result in the child being awarded a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Early Years Action

When an early education practitioner who works day-to-day with a child, or the SENCo, identifies a child with special educational needs, they should devise interventions that are additional to or different from those provided as part of the setting’s usual curriculum offer and strategies. The Area InCo Service would usually become involved at this stage. An individual education plan (IEP) would also be recommeneded at this stage.

Early Years Action Plus

This is characterised by the involvement of external support services who can help early education settings with advice on new IEP targets, provide more specialist assessments, and give advice on the use of new specialist strategies or materials.

Statutory Assessment

In exceptional circumstances, a child may have a severe and complex need that continues despite ongoing support from staff and outside agencies. In these cases the child may need Statutory Assessment – most children will be beyond early years provision before getting to the stage of needing a statement, but early years professionals must be aware of the whole process.A formal request may be made to the local education authority (LEA) by a parent, the pre-school or another agency. The LEA will need evidence that any strategy/programme implemented for the child has been continued for a reasonable amount of time without success. Although the LEA takes responsibility for deciding whether to make a statutory assessment, the pre-school continues to work closely with parents and outside agencies and remains responsible for the day-to-day curriculum and support for the child. If the child’s parent or carer is requested to write a report towards the process of Statutory Assessment, the local Area InCo or Portage Home Visitor will be happy to help them do this. Information can also be found in section 8 of Guidelines for Writing Advice in the SEN Toolkit.

Statement of Special Educational Needs

This is only appropriate for a very small number of children with SEN. The statement is a document which legally describes the child’s needs and the provision that the child requires to have their needs met. It is reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the child’s needs continue to be described accurately and that the appropriate provision is still in place to meet the child’s needs.  A Statement of Special Educational Needs would only be issued if there is parental consent to the Statutory Assessment procedure and content of the statement and that the educational provision had done all that they could to maximise the opportunities for the child.