How Early Years settings can support young children with SEND

In Milton Keynes we have a wide range of early years provision.  

  • Voluntary pre-schools: these are run by a parent led committee, often from a community room. They  provide care for 15 hours per week, in line with the Nursery Education Grant entitlement for 3 year olds.
  • Day Nurseries: these are often run privately, and offer care throughout the day and throughout the year.
  • Independent nurseries: these are often attached to independent schools, and offer care throughout the day.
  • Maintained nurseries: these are nursery schools or classes which are maintained by the local authority. They provide care for 15 hours per week. Some are attached to schools, whilst others exist in their own right.
  • Childminders: there are many childminders in Milton Keynes, who offer a range of provision type.
  • Some two year olds with special educational needs are able to receive funding for a pre-school or nursery place for up to 15 hours per week.  There is an eligibility criteria. This initiative is called Time For Twos.


Most young children can have their special educational needs met at their local pre-school or nursery setting. For some children, specialist provision may be more appropriate.

Specialist Provision 

The Redway School also caters for the needs of young children with severe and complex needs. Places are determined through the Education, Health and Care assessment process, from the age of 2 years.

EYFS curriculum

Every childcare provider registered with Ofsted follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. This is a framework which outlines the requirements for learning and development, it also supports providers to safeguard the welfare of the children in their care. The early years setting will think carefully to plan and implement a range of learning experiences that are developmentally appropriate to each child, regardless of their ability or learning style.

All Early Years settings are required to have a SEND Local Offer. This explains how they meet the needs of children with SEND.

If your child needs extra help

This will be planned in a careful, step by step way and you will be involved in thinking about what support your child needs. This is called the ‘graduated approach’, and is described in the SEN Code or Practice. All about the SEND Local Offer will give you more information about the graduated approach.

How settings identify need

If your child already has an identified need, you could share this with the early years setting before your child starts so that the staff can begin to think about how they can best support your child.

Early Years settings spend a lot of time observing and interacting children in play. This helps them to find out about what they can do, and what they may need help with. Next steps are planned for each child, with your input.

If a need is identified, staff may plan to help your child by making small adaptations to the learning environment (eg: maybe by making sure all adults adapt their language level, or by using visual aids to support understanding). This is easy to do, and does not require anything extra. If these adaptations do not allow your child to make expected progress, then staff may agree with you to implement strategies that are ‘different from’; or ‘additional to’ what the other children are receiving. Your child’s progress is reviewed regularly with you (usually every six weeks).

Early Years information pack

Personalised support

If your child is not making progress despite the staff providing strategies that are ‘different from’ or ‘additional to’, the early years setting may wish to request extra resources to help give some additional adult support to your child. This is called a SEND Inclusion Grant. This funding is usually granted for twelve weeks, depending on the need. Sometimes, if your child is known to an outside professional (eg: Specialist Teacher, Educational Psychologist), this person may suggest that the setting requests a SEND Inclusion Grant. This professional will advise the setting on what they should be providing for the child, should they be successful with their request for funding.

Education, Health and Care Assessment in Early Years

For some children with SEND, the support and interventions made will allow them to make progress. For others however, it may become apparent that despite the interventions in place, the rate of their progress is slow and that their needs could be defined as ‘complex and long term’.  In this instance it may be appropriate to request an Education, Health and Care needs assessment. (EHC). Education, Health and Care Plans - More Information

Last Updated: 14 October 2021