Broad areas of need
The SEND Code of Practice identifies the following broad areas of need. These areas provide an overview of needs that providers should plan for. It's important to remember that children may have needs across more than one area.
Communication and interaction
Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them, or they don't understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some, or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.
Children and young people with autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger’s Syndrome and autism, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination which can impact on how they relate to others.
Cognition and learning
Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD) where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, and profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) where children are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.
Specific learning difficulties (SpLD) affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.
Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
Previously behavioural emotional social difficulties (BESD)
Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which present themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained.
Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.
Schools and colleges should have clear processes to support children and young people, including how they will manage the effect of any disruptive behaviour so it does not adversely affect other pupils.
Sensory or physical needs
Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time.
Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support or equipment to access their learning, or rehabilitation support. Children and young people with a MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.
Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.
Identifying individual needs
Providers must have arrangements to support children with SEND, including a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN. Early identification and making effective provision improves long term outcomes for children.
There's many ways children may be identified as having individual needs. Parents will have more knowledge about their children than anyone else, so strong relationships with them are important. Parents could identify a concern first and they may talk to staff at the setting in the first instance. Parental concerns should always be listened to and any information from them be added to what the setting has already gathered.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requires all early year’s settings to assess and monitor the progress and development of all children across all areas of development. Observing children and assessing their progress can support Early Year’s staff in identifying any delays in development and possible special educational needs or disability a child may have.
Early Support Journal
The Early Support Journal is a useful resource for Early Years practitioners to use when monitoring children’s progress and to support observations and assessments. It can also provide a clear way of communicating information about a child’s development to parents and carers.
The Early Years Journal is an ideal first step to use in identifying children’s individual needs.
Two Year Integrated Review
The Two Year Integrated Review is a combination of joined up working between childcare providers, family centres and health visitors in the area. As part of this, Early Years practitioners must review progress and provide parents with a short written summary of their child’s development (2 year progress check) focusing on the prime areas of development and where progress is being made, if any additional support may be needed, or if there are any concerns about delays in development. This should then be shared with parents.
All completed 2 year progress checks should be taken to the nearest main family centre on a monthly basis for sending via secure email to the health visiting team for inclusion on the child’s electronic health record. The progress check should ideally feed into the Healthy Child Programme (HCP) 2 to 2½ development review.
The health visitor or community nursery nurse will read and consider the information in the 2 year progress check received from the setting. Any discrepancies between this and the health review will be acted upon, which may involve the health visitor or community nursery nurse making contact with the setting. Where concerns are identified an integrated review meeting might be appropriate.
Integrated review meeting
At an integrated review meeting a health professional and practitioner from the Early Years setting will meet together with the parent to discuss identified issues and how the child might best be supported. Integrated review meetings are particularly appropriate for children where there are other agencies involved with the child. In this case they might also be present at the integrated review.
If a childcare provider has reason to believe that a child may require extra support, or have a special educational need or disability, the parents should always be approached. With the parents consent, support should then be requested from the appropriate professionals.
Parents and professionals should always be involved and communicated with when identifying children’s needs. Early Years practitioners are able to feed into this process by contributing their knowledge of a child, but cannot make a diagnosis.
Childcare providers should inform parents or carers of their right to independent information advice and support.
The SEND Code of Practice states that where a setting makes special educational provision for a child with SEND they must inform the parents or carers before anything is put in place.
Preparing to meet a child's needs
For children with individual needs, all staff at the setting must be prepared to meet those needs before the child begins attending. This can include:
- arranging for advice and support from other agencies as appropriate.
- arranging for specialist equipment to be in place and that staff can use it correctly by providing training.
- making sure staff undertake any specialist training needed to administer medication or perform any specific procedures that are needed.
- making sure the environment has been adapted so it's accessible to the child.
It may be useful to arrange home visits before the child attends, to get to know more about them and how to meet their needs. Home visits will also provide the opportunity for the child to become familiar with staff. A parent, carer and young person application (EHCNA 1) could be started at this point to help ease the transition from home to the setting.
Researching the child’s needs and finding out as much as possible about their condition will also help in preparations. Make sure any information from the internet is from a reputable source. Being fully prepared will give parents and staff confidence and provide a positive experience for the child.
If a child with individual needs has any other agencies or professionals involved with them, a record of communication between these and the nursery including visits, phone calls and emails should be kept in a Diary of Intervention.