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What the law says regarding childcare for children with a disability or special educational need

What is a special educational need (SEN) or disability?

A child has SEN if he or she has much more difficulty learning than others of the same age, or a disability that makes it hard to benefit from the facilities generally available in local schools and childcare settings.

Special education provision is additional to or different from what is usually provided for children of that age (Children and Families Act 2014).

According to the Equality Act 2010, a disability is a physical or mental impairment, which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on someone’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Equality Act 2010 - Rights for disabled children

Schools, early years childcare settings, local councils and other organisations that provide services to your child must not discriminate against them if they are disabled and must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that they have the same play and learning opportunities as other children.

The Equality Act 2010, the Children and Families Act 2014, and the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (covering children’s early education from 0–5) are in place to ensure that all children get the support they need, when they need it, and that all children have every opportunity to reach their potential.

Children and Families Act 2014 and SEND Code of Practice 2014

The Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2014, introduced under this Act, aim to give children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) greater support, choice and opportunities.

The SEND Code of Practice details the responsibilities that councils, early years settings and schools in England have to support children with SEND. This includes what information they have to publish to support families. All early years childcare providers, such as nurseries and pre-schools, which offer funded places to two, three or four year olds must meet the requirements of the SEND Code of Practice. These include:

  • Involving children and parents properly in decision making, ensuring that they get the information and support they need
  • Responding quickly to children’s emerging needs
  • Planning ahead and working towards positive outcomes for children
  • A focus on inclusive practice – the great majority of children with SEND are successfully included in mainstream settings
  • Better coordination between services, with new joined-up assessments and plans for children who need support from several services

The Local Offer

Hounslow’s Local Offer provides information in one place: detailing the services and activities that families can find locally and how to access them. The Local Offer includes:

  • Childcare options, including expertise to support children with SEND
  • Support to parents to aid children’s development at home, such as Early Support and Portage
  • Funded early education places and any special arrangements for children with SEND
  • Support to help children with SEND move smoothly from a day nursery, preschool playgroup or a childminder to a school nursery class or reception class at primary school
  • Health services
  • Schools
  • A range of other services available locally
  • Guidance about seeking advice from specialist services

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS)

The EYFS is a set of standards that all registered childcare settings, registered childminders, and schools caring for children up to the age of five must meet, including how they should care for children with SEND.

This includes:

  • Identifying a staff member with lead responsibility for SEN
  • Discussing concerns about your child’s development with you and agreeing how best to support them, as well as considering if specialist input is needed
  • Ongoing assessment, keeping you informed about your child’s development

Your child's nursery, pre-school or childminder should provide a written summary of your child’s progress when they are between two and three years old. This will give details about your child’s development, their strengths, talents and likes, as well as any additional support that they might need.