early years (0-5s)

Early years (0-5s)

Most children with special educational needs will be able to begin their education in the same mainstream playgroups, pre-schools and nurseries as other children.

education for under 5s with SEND All pre-school education settings must have a special educational needs policy and a member of staff who is identified as the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator). The SENCO can get advice and support from specialist SEND early years services that are run by your local authority.

Brighton & Hove Inclusion Support Service (BHISS) Early Years

East Sussex ISEND Early Years Support Service

Choosing a mainstream nursery or pre-school setting
All playgroups and nurseries should welcome children with special educational needs and disabilities but their atmosphere, experience and facilities vary. You will need to visit a few and think about what will suit your child. Get details of local nurseries and pre-schools from your local Family Information Service. And read Amaze’s fact sheet on Choosing Childcare for tips.

Our SENDIASS helpline advisers may be able to help you think over your pre-school choices.

Early years funding for children with SEND
All children are entitled to 570 hours of free early education from the term after their third birthday until the term in which they turn five. This figure can double for parents who are both working. Some children are entitled to free early education/childcare from age two, for example if they get Disability Living Allowance or if you are on Income Support.

Nurseries and pre-school settings may also be able to access additional funding to help successfully include children with SEND in their setting. It can be used for extra staffing costs, to buy special equipment or make adaptations to the premises. Read more:

Brighton and Hove Early Years Funding Information

East Sussex Early Years Funding Information

Specialist early years settings
Some local authorities have specialist nurseries or pre-schools that cater for children with more complex needs. For example, the Jeanne Saunders Centre in Brighton & Hove is a specialist assessment and intervention nursery which local children may attend in the year before they start school. Brighton and Hove under fives with very complex needs may also attend Downs View or Hillside special schools at a pre-school age.

Chailey Heritage School, near Lewes, has a pre-school class that caters for children with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, especially when combined with additional medical needs and Ingfield Manor School at Billingshurst in West Sussex has a pre-school and assessment service for children with physical disabilities and associated learning problems. The pre-school provides conductive education incorporating the early years’ curriculum.

The Children’s Respite Trust (who provide respite support for disabled children and their families across Sussex) recently launched Little Stars nursery provision for children aged 2 plus with SEND.

Be aware that if a specialist pre-school setting is outside your local area, the local authority would have to agree to pay for your child to go there, but this does sometimes happen for children with particularly specialist needs.

Other support for pre-school children
Local Children’s Centres may offer special groups or drop-in sessions for parents and children with additional needs. Find out about local parent-led support groups in your area for under fives with additional needs and their mums and dads. You may also find charities that run educational groups for children with specific needs.

For details of all these types of support for pre-school children with SEND, visit your Family Information Service directory or Local Offer.

Brighton & Hove’s Family Information Service (FIS)

Brighton & Hove’s Local Offer

East Sussex Local Offer

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