Early years support (age 0-6)
Early years provision in Shropshire is provided by both maintained nurseries (where the nursery is part of a school) and private, voluntary and independent early years provision (PVI) including childminders. Wherever possible, children with special educational needs and disabilities will be made welcome, and have their needs met in their local setting. There's also a specialist nursery at Severndale School in Shrewsbury.
All children are entitled to 15 hours free nursery education from the term after their third birthday. Some children with special educational needs or a disability are entitled to 15 hours free early years education from the term after their second birthday. Take a look at the full details of the eligibility criteria for funding for two year olds on our early years pages.
Most early years settings have staff trained to identify and support children’s additional needs, and many have experience of supporting a range of needs. Each setting will have a member of staff responsible for SEND (the special educational needs coordinator, or 'SENCO'). Early years settings work closely with a range of other services, such as our SEN team, health visitors, speech and language therapists and Sure Start children’s services to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care. These requirements are set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), as well as in the SEND Code of Practice, chapter 5.
Parents and carers are experts in their child’s development. Working together to identify, assess, plan and review, from the earliest opportunity, is essential to ensuring the best possible outcomes for children with SEND.
Partnership working with parents is a requirement of both the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (March 2014) and the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (September 2014).
Parents who have concerns about their child’s development should in the first instance talk to their child’s key person in the setting, who should involve the setting SENCO in planning the best course of action. This could include:
- Making more focused observations of the child
- Checking developmental milestones against developmental expectations
- Putting into place some targeted opportunities or activities
- Contacting us for further advice and guidance (area SENCO) or referring to partner agencies such as Speech and Language Therapy
All settings should adopt a graduated approach with four stages of action: assess, plan, do and review. Our 'Graduated approach' guidance sheet offers support for settings in adopting this graduated response.
If you'd like to submit a request for an education, health and care assessment, please refer to our EHC assessment request page.
If in exceptional circumstances it's not possible for a parent to discuss their child’s special educational needs with an early years provider it's possible to contact the education improvement adviser with responsibility for Early Years SEN by emailing the SEN team.
Parents looking for a suitable early years setting for their child should make contact with the setting of their choice; many will have information about their support for children with additional needs on their website or in their prospectus. A full list of early years providers in the area is available from the Family Information Service by phone on 01743 254400 or via the Family Information Directory.