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Referral and Triage to the Early Years Service for Practitioners

Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework

For Early Years Professionals requiring general support regarding:

  • Quality of education
  • Implementation of the EYFS Statutory Framework

please contact the Early Years Service,

Special Educational Needs Provision

Early Years Professionals requiring advice on:

  • Special Educational Needs in an Early Years Setting
  • An individual child or groups of children in a setting (where an individual referral is not required)

should email the Early Years Inclusion and SEND Team at

This is particularly relevant where it is likely that a provider would benefit from:
  • External
  • Targeted support and advice
to meet the needs of a group of children with SEND. This is likely to be due to:
  • Identifying the need to improve
  • Providing support to meet a range of needs for children with SEND
  • Early advice and guidance is required where a child, or children, is likely to be within the universal or targeted areas of the Graduated Response for SEND.  This applies where a referral for an individual child through the Early Help Hub is not being made.
  • A request for support for the SENCO. This is to help fulfil their statutory duties to coordinate and provide an effective response for children at their setting.

This could be achieved through a SEND support visit and a Best Start in Life, Team around the Setting Meeting.

Best Start in Life, Team around the Setting Meetings

To consider holistic needs of an early years setting and plan appropriate support. The aim of this meeting is to:

  • Ensure the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children are met
  • Identify specific contextual information about the setting and the needs of the children, cohort groups where additional support is required
  • Agree a clear plan that identified external support to the school/setting
  • Provide advice and guidance where relevant to the school/setting

Referring individual children

Many children receive appropriate support from their Early Years Provider and other services without the need to be referred. Should you be concerned about your child’s development or progress please talk to your child’s key person who will liaise with your settings Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCO). It is important that you work in partnership with your Early Years Provider to ensure consistency for your child.

If your child is not with an Early Years Provider and you would like support or advice please contact

The Triage Process

What is it?

The Triage Process reviews referrals in a timely way so that the level of support is arranged and will be appropriate to the level of individual need outlined in the request for help.

What happens?

Once a referral has been made, the Early Years Inclusion and SEND Service will assess requests for help at triage meeting. Meetings are normally held once each week during term time. The referrer will receive notification of the response within five working days of a referral being received.   

Who attends the meeting?

The Triage Meeting is attend by:

  • The Lead Education Officer for Early Years Inclusion and SEND
  • Service Manager Early Years Inclusion and SEND
  • Early Years Speech and Language Therapist

To ensure additional expert advice is available in this process, professionals from other services may be invited to contribute to the process. For example:

  • Disabled Children’s Early Help Team Manager
  • Paediatrician
  • Senior Educational Psychologist (Early Years)

What happens during the meeting?

Attendees review the information supplied by the referrer. The members of the Triage Meeting consider these points to make their decision:

  • The developmental needs of the child/children
  • The experience of staff within the provision they attend
  • The level of need evidenced in the referral and how this links to the Graduated Response for Early Years
  • The evidence base used in the referral and whether this provides sufficient information


If, for any reason, a referrer is concerned at the outcome of the Triage Process, further consideration can be requested. Please send this to

This will be reviewed by the Lead Education Officer, Early Years Inclusion and SEND.

Should an outcome not be accepted, the matter can be escalated for further consideration in consultation with the Head of Inclusion and SEND and the Service Director (Education and Community Health).

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