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Early years providers are required to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) and to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care. These requirements are set out in the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework. The EYFS framework also requires practitioners to review children’s progress and share a summary with parents.

All Ofsted-registered childcare settings, such as nurseries, pre-schools and nursery classes, must make arrangements to support children with SEN and make information about this available to parents. They should identify a member of staff, such as the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO), to be responsible for SEND, to advise colleagues and ensure that parents are actively involved in decisions. Childminders are ‘encouraged’ to identify someone to act as the SENCO, perhaps shared with others registered with the same agency. All early years settings, which offer free childcare for two, three and four-year-olds, must follow the new SEND Code of Practice.

Good quality childcare is beneficial for all children. It can play a hugely important role in your child's development, allowing them to become independent, to mix with other children and to learn new things. But choosing the right childcare can be a difficult decision for every parent, particularly if your child has a special educational need or disability (SEND).

There are laws to protect children from discrimination and improve support and access to services, play opportunities, education and information. There are details about these laws throughout our guide, below, to help you know what your rights are as a parent.

If you have any questions about support and services in early years, please contact us on

Early Years Foundations Service

The Early Years Foundations Service is addressing the government’s legislation to increase the number of affordable places, to build high quality provision and give the right information to parents and carers via the Local Offer website.

Our priorities to meet this agenda over the coming years are:

  • to make sure providers achieve and maintain high quality provision
  • to undertake a progress check when a child is two years old

Progress check at two years

Please click here to find out more about progress check at two years.

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