Chapter five of the SEN and Disability Code of Practice 2015 (the Code) deals with SEN in the early years.

The Code applies to all children in early years settings that receive local authority funding (including private/independent providers), whether or not they have an EHC plan.

The Code emphasises the legal requirement upon early years’ providers to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with SEN and disabilities. This could be done through the universal progress checks at age two or five, or at any other time.

The Code identifies four broad areas of need:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health, and
  • sensory and/or physical needs.

Special educational provision given to children is called SEN Support. The Code recommends a graduated approach which has four stages of action: Assess; Plan; Do; Review.

Early years settings are advised to involve specialists “where a child continues to make less than expected progress, despite evidence-based support and interventions that are matched to the child’s area of need”. The decision to involve specialists should be taken with the child’s parents (paragraph 5.48 of the Code).

Records about their children must be available to parents and they must include information about how the setting supports children with SEN and disabilities.