Choosing a Setting for a Baby or Young Child With Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND)

All early education providers are required by the law to be inclusive. They must make adjustments so that children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability can access the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). To ensure full access to the EYFS some children will require additional support in line with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015. This outlines a ‘graduated approach’ to meeting needs. This means that the support for your child will match their level of need. Sometimes, after periods of support in mainstream settings, a small number of children might need to go to a specialist setting.

This section will help you make the very important decision about where your child will first attend an educational setting. You may want to seek information and advice available from professionals before making the decision about the best setting for your child.

There are a range of mainstream early years providers for children prior to entering Reception Class. You can find out about these here.

Make a list of the settings you wish to consider and then visit several so that you can compare them.

Once you have made a shortlist of settings that you would like to consider, make a checklist of all the things that are important to you and your child; this will help you to ask the right questions. You may want to:

  • ask for a setting prospectus or brochure (or find a copy online),
  • have a look at the setting /school’s website – especially their SEND Information
  • look up the most recent OfSTED report on the internet,
  • take any relevant information about your baby or child’s additional needs with you,
  • think carefully about whether you want to take your child with you on the first visit (you could discuss this with the setting or another professional),
  • take someone along with you such as a friend or relative – they can help in discussing your impressions afterwards.
  • ask to have a guided tour of the setting – you will get a better feel for the setting if you do this when the children are there.
  • ask to speak to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) about what could be provided to meet your child’s needs. Every setting is required by law to have a SENCo.

Here are some questions you might want to ask. You will think of other things that are important to you and your family.

  • How many children will be in my child’s key group?
  • How will information about my child’s needs be shared with the staff?
  • How does the setting arrange extra support for children who need it?
  • How will I be involved in planning for my child’s needs and reviewing his or her progress?
  • How will my child be helped to settle in and to make friends?
  • How will the other children be helped to understand my child’s needs?
  • How will I be updated about what is happening?
  • How does the setting support the personal, social and emotional development of all children?
  • How will the setting include my child in all activities?  
  • How soon will a place be available?

Try to keep an open mind until you have looked at all the possibilities. Once you have visited several settings you may have further questions which you want to contact the setting to ask. You may want to share your thoughts with any professionals involved with your child and you may want to take your child on a visit, if you haven’t already done so.

Once you have made a decision you will need to agree a start date directly with the setting. After this you can support your child to be ready for the transition from home into their first setting.