Daniella is 4 and educated at her local mainstream nursery.

What the SEND Review says:

What the current legal framework says: 

In the early part of the pandemic, despite Daniella’s nursery staying open, she missed out on some aspects of support and valuable time with her peers.  This was the case for many children both with and without SEN, due primarily to factors relating to the pandemic rather than to the current SEN legal framework.

The nursery suspect that Daniella might have moderate learning difficulties, which have been compounded by the implications of the pandemic on her learning.

If the current framework was followed, Daniella’s needs would be met.

Local authorities must ensure that all providers delivering funded early education places meet the needs of children with SEND, and should make sure funding arrangements reflect this need.

The nursery staff would follow Chapter 5 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015 (CoP), which stresses the importance of early intervention and support. They would have arrangements in place to support children with SEND and have a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN. They would follow the “assess-plan-do-review” cycle to identify Daniella’s needs and put appropriate support in place, discussing this frequently with Daniella’s parents. The process will be coordinated by the setting’s SENCO.

If the nursery staff are unsure how best to identify Daniella’s needs and to provide the right support for her and do not know what extra support might be available, they can call for more specialist assessment and advice from outside agencies including specialist teachers, health, social services, health visitors, speech and language therapists, Portage workers, educational psychologists and others.

They can also involve the Area SENCO, who can provide advice and guidance and can help make links between education, health and social care to facilitate appropriaate early provision.

They can also request an EHC needs assessment. The threshold is low and would be satisfied in Daniella’s case, as she has or may have SEN and may need provision through an EHC plan. Detailed, clear and specific assessment evidence will show whether an EHC plan is necessary.

On transition to school, Daniella’s needs will be well understood and there will be clear records of the support she has received, as required under the EYFS framework. There will be planning and preparation for transition, and information will be shared with the receiving school.

Future experience - under the Government's proposed reforms:

The staff at Daniella’s nursery receive SEND specific CPD with a focus on child development which they utilise to identify children who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. However, many children have SEN which would have existed with or without the pandemic.

The nursery staff exercise best practice and conduct a 2 ½ year integrated check with a health visitor who uses the Early Language and Identification measure Framework – exactly as they could do under the current system.

The local family hub model supports integrated working between professionals – exactly as should be happening now under the current system.

Working together, the professionals apply the national standards, resulting in standardised rather than individualised support. This may not meet Daniella’s needs.

On transition, the information about the support Daniella has received is passed from her nursery to her primary school – exactly as should happen under the current system.

The school has access to a speech and language therapist (exactly as they do now). However, the suggestion that Daniella requires access to “time-bound support” rather than “support” is concerning – why should the SALT support necessarily be time-limited, when her speech and language needs may be ongoing?

It's never been more vital to stand up for the rights of children and young people with SEND. We encourage you to tell the Department for Education what you think about the proposed reforms. The public consultation runs until 11.45pm on Friday 22 July - read our guidance on how you can respond to the Government’s proposals here.