SEND in the early years

Cornwall Council, Town and Parish, and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections information and results.

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. They should use the Graduated Response in Early Years Foundation Stage document to help. 

Statutory Framework for EYFS

Early Years Support

Some 2 year olds can get 15 hours a week in a setting rated as good or outstanding by OFSTED. This is called Early Years Entitlement. It depends on the family’s financial circumstances or if a child has a disability. 

All 3 and 4 year olds have an Early Years Entitlement of 15 hours a week. This starts from the term after their 3rd birthday. Their families can access a range of Early Years settings including:

  • maintained nurseries
  • private day nurseries
  • private and voluntary pre-schools
  • childminders

Some families with 3 and 4 year old children can get up to 30 hours free childcare. 

Any registered early years setting is required by law:

  • to deliver the EYFS
  • to accept children with SEN
  • is Ofsted assured
  • is able to access support from Local Authority services

Each setting is different. They may offer different opening hours or different term times. Their ethos will influence how they deliver the EYFS. Parents can visit settings so they can make an informed decision about what is right for their child. 

Childcare and funding

Supporting Early Years Children with SEN in Cornwall 

Early Years Service (EYS)

The EYS is a multi-disciplinary team that 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 service includes the following staff:

  • Senior Locality Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCos)
  • Early Years Educational Psychologists
  • Early Years Autism and social communication workers
  • Early Years Inclusion Workers

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

For children with a higher level of need

Some children with more complex needs need more specialist support as part of their Early Years entitlement. To access this you would have a discussion with the Early Years service. Your child may attend a Child Development Centre (CDC) for a short time.

Child Development Centres

There are currently four Child Development Centres (CDCs) in Cornwall. They are in Liskeard, St Columb Major, Truro and Penzance. There is also a CDC teacher that supports children in the Launceston and Bude areas. They offer support in periods of targeted intervention, from CDC staff. This may be either in the child's local setting or from a period of support at one of the CDC bases.

The Early Years Service, an education or health professional request CDC involvement. Places are allocated by a central, multi-agency panel.

For pre-school children CDCs offer:

  • Specialist short term nursery provision (2-3 terms). Either by the child attending (in reach placement), or through support to another setting (outreach placement). Sometimes it is a combination of these.
  • Multi agency assessment
  • Minimum ratios of 1:3 with a qualified teacher and a nursery nurse
  • Supported transition to local early years settings or to school depending on the child’s age
  • Specialist teacher and Speech and Language Therapist intervention

Placement at a centre is for 2 or 3 sessions per week during term time. It is best if this is alongside their local mainstream setting in an in reach placement. Or support at their local Early Years Setting by the CDC staff in an outreach placement.

This place is not additional to the 15 hours of Early Funding entitlement. It is counted as part of it.

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.


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.

Disablility 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.

Early Years Inclusion Grant

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 Early Years Inclusion Grant. The Early Years Quality Improvement Support Programme has more information.

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, 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.


Below are a few of the key resources to support teaching and learning of SEND to Early Years. There are plenty more online.

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