Caring for children with Special Educational Needs (England)

Special needs children, children with learning disabilities, children with additional learning needs, or children with SEN – whatever the name used, we have resources to help you support children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) in your childcare setting.

What is SEND?

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her (p15 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015).

For example if the child has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions (p15-16 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015).

In Wales, children are referred to as have Additional Learning Needs (ALN). A Wales resource to support with changes to ALN in Wales is in development, check back on the Spotlight page to see this in the near future.

What is the SEND Code of Practice?

SEND front coverThe SEND Code of Practice is a statutory guidance for those who work with and support children and young people with SEND in England.

The SEND Code of Practice has been produced alongside the Children and Families Act 2014. Both the Act and the Code of Practice came into effect in September 2014.

The SEND Code of Practice covers the guidance you need to know when supporting children and young people with special education needs and disabilities. The full statutory guidance includes:

  • Reference to the relevant legislation
  • The principles in practice
  • Impartial information, advice and support for parents, children and young people
  • How to work together across education, health and care for joint outcomes
  • The local offer
  • Early years providers, schools and further education
  • Preparing for adulthood from the earliest years
  • Education, health and care needs assessments and plans
  • Guidance when dealing with children and young people in specific circumstances
  • Resolving disagreements

You can read the full explanation of what Special Educational Needs and Disabilities is in the SEND Code of Practice 2015.

What does the SEND Code of Practice mean for me?

Every childcare professional should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the SEND Code of Practice, and if you’re a childminder or nursery worker delivering free early education for 2, 3 or 4-year olds, you must adhere to the code of practice as statutory guidance.

Many childcare professionals care for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). A child may be diagnosed with a condition before joining your setting, or you may be involved in identifying a special educational need or disability.

Your daily observations and interactions with the children in your care, and the valuable support you offer families, mean that you’re well placed to spot any early signs of additional needs.

In England, the EYFS asks you to provide parents with a brief written development summary of their child’s progress in the prime areas of learning at age 2. Health and early years professionals  work side-by-side on integrated reviews for 2-year-olds.

The integration of these reviews aims to combine the expertise of health visitors and early years practitioners to effectively identify additional needs and provide early support. Having knowledge and understanding of the SEND Code of Practice will help identify and support these needs.

Resources to support SEND/ALN from PACEY

SEND Code of Practice factsheet – a free factsheet for members outlining and explaining the SEND code of practice for childcare professionals. This includes key information and advice for supporting a child with SEND, the importance of your setting and how to address clear targets to enable them to reach ambitious outcomes.

Inclusion factsheet – a free factsheet for members that covers the individual needs of the child and how you can meet them, allowing children to feel equal, respected and valued in your setting.

Intimate care for disabled children - a free factsheet for members on how to provide intimate care for disabled children.

Inclusive practice for SEND children - Caring for children with SEND and making sure every child in your setting is included.

Equal opportunities - Offering and promoting equal opportunities in your setting and ensuring you recognise and respect the uniqueness of each child to help them progress.

Equality and diversity - Ensuring equal opportunities to every child, regardless of their disability and other protected rights.

Early Years SENCo job description

This template job description is for use in early years settings to support them in recruiting a SENCo, and to enable early years staff to see what the role of Early Years SENCo involves.

Download the job description template

Other useful links