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What are special educational needs for children under 5?

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.

Support for young children with SEND and their parents

Support can take a range of forms including:
Specialist support from educational psychologists, speech and language therapists or specialist teachers such as teachers of the deaf.

These specialists may visit families at home to provide advice and information. Training for parents in using early language programmes to promote play, communication and language development.

Home-based programmes such as Portage, which offer a carefully structured system to help parents support their child’s early learning and development. For example material visit the National Portage Association website

How Early Years providers support SEND

All early years providers have duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the Early Years Foundation Stage, and must have regard for the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice to: 

  • promote equality of opportunity for disabled children 
  • provide inclusive practice 
  • remove barriers to learning 
  • ensure children with medical conditions get the support they need 
  • make reasonable adjustments including aids to prevent disadvantage.

Thought must be given in advance to what disabled children might require and what adjustments might need to be made to prevent disadvantage.

Early Learning and Development Frequently Asked Questions

My child does not have an EHCP, what support should an Early Years setting put in place?

For children under 5 who do not have an EHCP, the education setting is expected to use their ” Ordinarily Available Provision” to get needs met.
This means using all the resources, adaptations and provision that is already available to a setting. The links below explain how Ordinarily Available Provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage is delivered in Portsmouth. Click on each individual link to find out more.

Cognition and Learning

Communication and Interaction

Sensory and Physical

Social Emotional and Mental Health

If you aren’t sure whether your education setting is supporting your child in this way, we would recommend that you meet and discuss this with them.

My child is due to move to school, what support should they be given?

Before a child moves into another setting or school, their support should include lots of activities that plan and prepare them for the move – this is often called transition planning.

If your child has an education Health and Care Plan, this should also include information on the things that will be put in place to help them move from their old setting to the new one.

The types of support activities that may be used are:

  • Extra visits for your child to their new education setting.
  • Visual supports – such as photographs, books or even short video clips of their new setting.
  • Lots of information sharing between the old setting, the new setting and parents and carers.
  • Advisory teachers may go into education settings to give specialist advice and help them plan for the arrival of your child.

Each transition plan of support will be different and developed around the individual child’s needs. In Portsmouth City we expect all settings to work in co-production  with parent carers to plan a child’s support.

My child is finding things difficult in their Early Years setting and I think they might have additional needs, what should I do?

My child is under 5 and I think they might be autistic, where can I get advice and help with this?

What is portage and how can I get referred to their service?

I am not happy with some of the things my child's early years setting are doing, what should I do?

Related Documents and Links

Visit the Local Offer Information Hub to search for all Early Years services and information

Relevant links

We have developed a Parenting Pathway for children within the Early Years Foundation Stage(EYFS) with SEND. Click here to view the EYFS 0-5 SEND Pathway

National Links

National Portage Association

CDC: A Guide to Education, Health and Care Plans

Portsmouth SENDIASS

An impartial service providing information, advice and guidance on SEND.

Click here to visit SENDIASS

Portsmouth SEN Team

The Special Educational Needs Team at portsmouth city council are responsible for EHCPs.

Portsmouth SEN Team info
PPV Logo

Portsmouth Parent Voice

Helping parent carers of young people aged 0-25 with additional needs and disabilities to shape and improve local services

Click here to visit Portsmouth Parent Voice

Get in touch - tell us what you think

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

Get in touch

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