Pre-school Education: Special Educational Needs

Department for Education written question – answered on 23 March 2023.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an estimate of the amount of time it takes for a child in an early years setting to be assessed for SEND support once a nursery has identified a concern.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

It is particularly important in the early years that there is no delay in making any necessary special educational provision. Early diagnosis of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is essential to ensuring a child is provided with the support they need throughout their education. Where a setting identifies a child as having SEND, they must work in partnership with parents to establish the support that the child needs.

The SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan sets out how an effective single national SEND and AP system will be delivered, and can be found at: This includes new national standards for identifying and meeting SEND. These new standards aim to make consistent the provision that should be made available across the country for every child and young person with SEND.

The department is funding training for up to 5,000 early years Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) resulting in an accredited Level 3 Early Years SENCO qualification. The Level 3 Early Years SENCO training became available in October 2022 and will run until August 2024.

Where a setting makes special educational provision for a child with SEND, they should adopt a graduated approach with four stages of action: assess, plan, do and review as outlined in the SEND Code of Practice which can be found here: However, there are no specific timelines for each stage of the process.

For education, health and care (EHC) plans specifically, the whole process, from the point when an assessment is requested (or a detained person is brought to the local authority’s attention) until the final EHC plan is issued, must take no more than 20 weeks.

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