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Early Years

Children aged between 0-5 years are said to be in their “early years”. This is an important time for all children because long term development can be effected by the experiences a child has early-on in life. This is especially important for children who have special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND).

It is particularly important in the early years that there is no delay in making any necessary special educational provision. Delay at this stage can give rise to learning difficulty and subsequently to loss of self-esteem, frustration in learning and to behaviour difficulties. Early action to address identified needs is critical to the future progress and improved outcomes that are essential in helping the child to prepare for adult life. ( SEND Code of practice 5.36)

To find more information on how we support Children under 5 with SEND in Portsmouth City, scroll down and choose one of the sections below. 

Early Learning and Development

Visit this section for more information on the support and services available for Early years learning and development in Portsmouth City.

Early Learning

Help at Home

Find information and services that can help with family life. This includes Early Help support, Social care information and home help.

Support at Home

Health and Medical

Find out about Early Years Health services and medical support in the Portsmouth City Local Area.

Health and Medical

Information and Advice

This section of the Local offer explains who can provide you with advice and support, as well as any group activities that might be available.

Advice and Support

Leisure, Sport and Community

Visit this section to find local clubs, groups and activities for SEND children 5 years and under. This includes sporting activities, children's centre activities and more!

Sport, Leisure and Community Activities

Money and Financial help

Find out about the different types of financial help that might be available to you if you have a child under 5. This includes DLA , SEND grants and Early Years funding.

Money and Finances

Early Years Frequently asked questions

For children aged under five, what are ‘special educational needs’?

A child who is under compulsory school age has a special educational need if they have a learning difficulty or disability that is likely to require special educational provision when they reach compulsory school age or they would do, if special educational provision was not made for them. For children under the age of two, special educational provision means educational provision of any kind, including home-based programmes.

What support can I expect for my child in an early years setting?

All childcare providers are required to offer an inclusive environment and to respond to individual children’s needs. The Local Offer website contains information on specialist and targeted services across education, health and social care in Portsmouth.
When visiting childcare providers it is important to ask how your child’s needs can be met and to work with the provider to ensure they fully understand any specific resources or equipment that your child will need.
Every early years provider should have a named SENCo or INCo (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator) who is responsible for overseeing the inclusive environment and co-ordinating the SEND practice and provision. They will have regard to the SEND Code of Practice and will support staff to meet each child’s needs where possible, building a positive partnership with parents.

What is the Disability Access Fund?

This funding was introduced in April 2017 to support children with disabilities or special educational needs.

The funding is available in relation to 3 and 4-year-olds who meet the following criteria:

  • The child is in receipt of child Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and;
  • The child receives free early education of at least 1 hour a week (via the universal entitlement or extended childcare hours).

Your childcare provider will be eligible to receive disability access funding, which is £615 per child per year, to help them make reasonable adjustments to their setting to support your child.

Please note the disability access funding can only be given to 1 childcare provider. If you are using more than one provider you will be able to choose which receives the funding.

Speak to your childcare provider for more information on how to apply for the funding or alternatively you can request this on the 3/4 year funding childcare declaration form.

What is the difference between childcare options?

Pre-Schools tend to be open between 8am-4pm term time only. Some open for less hours or some for half-days each week. Pre-Schools are Ofsted registered and inspected regularly.

Nurseries tend to be open between 8am-6pm all year round. Nurseries are Ofsted registered and inspected regularly.

Childminders offer flexible care in their own home for up to 3 children under the age of 5. Some also care for older children before and after school. Childminders are Ofsted registered and work to the same standards and are inspected regularly in the same way as nurseries and pre-schools. Childminders often offer additional services such as earlier care, later care, weekend care and school pickups/drop-offs which can be invaluable to families.

Your choice of childcare depends on the hours you work, your transport options and other commitments you may have such as school-runs for older children or studying. You can place your child with more than one childcarer. Some parents use a combination of a childminder and a pre-school/nursery to suit their requirements.

What types of activities will my child do with a childcare provider?

The activities your child will take part in vary depending on the childcare provider and your child’s age. Registered childcare for 0-5 years may follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, a set of standards the childcare provider must follow to help your child learn and develop.

EYFS focuses on learning through play. The areas of learning are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • Literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design

Childcare providers  have a duty to consider how best to offer extra support for children with a disability or special educational needs – talk to the provider about any specific requirements your child has.

How do I find childcare?

It is important to start looking early – good childcare can get booked up quickly and you may experience long waiting lists.

  • Research all your options and be prepared with a list of questions to help with your decision making (some useful questions can be found below).
  • Visit the setting to get a feel for the day-to-day routine, and take your child with you to see whether they like it too.
  • Visit more than one provider, so that you can make comparisons.
    Think about your child’s age and needs, for example, if they are very young they may need one to one attention and care, whilst older children may prefer to mix with other children.
  • Once you’ve chosen the right one for you, tell them of any particular needs your child has, such as dietary requirements or allergies. You could also share your child’s health and development review that is completed with your health visiting team.
  • Make sure you get a contract or agreement to sign but read carefully first to make sure everything you’ve agreed is written down.

What do I need to think about when visiting a childcare provider?

You will probably have lots of questions when choosing a new childcare provider – here are a few to get you started:

  • Are the children happy, safe and playing together?
  • Are the adults friendly and joining in with what the children are doing?
  • Are there lots of activities on offer to help children learn and play?
  • Are the premises and resources clean, well-kept and safe for children?
  • Is there a fun outside play area (or will children go to parks and other places regularly)?
  • Are the premises accessible for wheelchair use and do they have resources to support a child with a disability or special educational needs?

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Contact the Portsmouth Send Local Offer to gain help, get more information or to leave feedback about the website.

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