SEND in the early years

Early Years providers in Cornwall use the Graduated Response in Early Years Foundation Stage. This helps to meet the individual needs of children with (SEN).

Early years provision for children with SEND

The Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted registered early years providers must follow the EYFS. This includes childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes. All providers must follow the SEND Code of Practice and should use the Graduated Response in Early Years Foundation Stage document to help. 

Supporting Early Years Children with SEND in Cornwall 

Early Years Service

The Early Years Service is a multi-disciplinary team. It delivers SEN services to Early Years providers as part of a continuum of Local Authority services. We work with children aged 0 to 5 with SEND. We also work with other families to access their early years education entitlement.

The Portage Service

The Portage Service visit children in their homes. This is for children aged from 6 months up to the point at which they transition to an Early Years Setting. Portage workers are Early Years practitioners. We have a good knowledge of child development, and have special needs experience. We are part of Cornwall Council’s Disabled Children and Therapy Service. We provide support and guidance to enable parents to achieve the best outcomes for their child.

Early Support

This is an approach for children aged 0-19 years with a disability or long term additional need. It aims to: 

  • Include child and family priorities as central to planning next steps.
  • Support the family with advice
  • Define roles and responsibilities of the professionals involved.
  • Limit duplication of services

The multi-agency Team Around the Child (TAC) works together to meet the child and family’s needs. The family is supported by their chosen Lead Professional.

Find out more at the Council for Disabled Children website

Area Resource Base

Some children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) go to Area Resource Bases (ARB). These small bases are hosted by twenty primary and secondary schools across Cornwall. ARBs support pupils with more complex needs.

Pupils in ARBs receive more tailored, specialist provision than those in a mainstream school. This can include small group work and access to specialist resources and services. In an ARB, pupils can still access parts of the mainstream school and have specialist support. In Cornwall, we have ARBs across the county. This means it is more likely that children and young people will find a school close to home. Most learners can learn alongside their friends and peers.

Special School Provision

Children accessing a special school Foundation Stage class have long-term complex needs. A child can be considered for a place from 3 years once they have an Education, Health and Care plan. We fund places at:

  • Nancealverne (Penzance)
  • Curnow (Redruth)
  • Doubletrees (near St Austell)

Find out more about these schools on the Special Partnership Trust website.

Support you can expect your child to receive

Early years settings that receive government funding must have a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCO). This is a member of staff who is responsible for making sure all the children with SEND have the support they need.

Your child should also have a named keyworker – this is the person who is responsible for your child on a daily basis. This is the person to speak to first if you have any worries or just want to talk about how your child is doing.

The approach to support children with SEND includes four stages:


The early years setting, together with the SENDCO and parents, should work to explore the cause of any learning difficulty or delay.


Staff should talk to you about your child and the extra help you think they need and seek more information if needed. For example, they may ask for support from the Early Years Inclusion and SEND Service, Speech and language therapist, Health Visitor. There should be a written plan setting out this support.


Depending on their needs, your child may receive extra help from an adult or help in a small group, for example to learn language skills. Sometimes a specialist may work with your child directly or set up a programme and train staff to follow it.


The setting should agree with you when your child’s progress will be reviewed. The review is a chance to look at your child’s progress, whether the support is working and whether your child needs more or a different kind of help.

What if my child needs a lot more help?

If your child needs more help than the early years setting can normally provide, they may need an Education, Health and Care needs assessment which may lead to an Education Heath and Care Plan.

Early Years Pupil Premium

The Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) is extra funding for early years settings. It is to improve the education they provide for disadvantaged 3 and 4 year olds. Settings can use it to provide new resources or pay for staff training.  They can buy in more support and new play or learning experiences. These can all help to improve outcomes.

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

The Disability Access Fund is for three and four year old children who get child Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They must also get the free nursery funding entitlement. DAF is paid to the child’s early years setting as a fixed annual rate of £615 per eligible child. Read more on the Disability Access Fund web page.

Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund (SENIF)

If a child needs a lot of extra support and they don’t already have an EHC plan, the setting can apply for extra funding to make sure they are included. This is through the Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund.  Early Years Settings can find the guidance and forms for SENIF on the Early Years Platform (you will need to have an account to log in).

Graduated Response in the Early Years Foundation Stage

Most children with SEND in foundation stage provision in Cornwall have their needs met at SEN support. They are delivered as part of high quality early years practice. The Graduated response sets out advice about standards in the foundation stage for children across Cornwall.

Need help?

Most issues can be resolved online, it's the quickest and most convenient way to get help.

Your feedback is important to us

Help us improve our service