image of a boy being cared for by an adult

Nurseries, pre-schools, school nurseries or childminders have the responsibility to support any children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) aged 0-5 within their setting.

Early years practitioners can follow and access an early years pathway and referral process, which can be seen in the 'Useful information' section below.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework requires all childcare providers who are registered with OFSTED to complete assessments and observations of the children in their care. If additional needs are identified, the provider must have a discussion with the child’s parent or carer and with their consent follow a graduated approach to meeting the child’s needs and signpost to other professionals as needed. If extra support is still required when all other strategies have been tested then providers can refer to the Local Authority's inclusion panel for early years; this panel allocates resources from the early years special educational needs inclusion fund (EYSENDIF). The criteria and referral process for EYSENDIF is also detailed in the 'Useful information' section below.

The early years training team coordinate a comprehensive training programme for the early years and childcare workforce. Part of this training programme offers subsidised accredited and CPD training courses on SEND. Accredited training in portage for early years professionals, SENCO training and SENCO networks are courses that are offered regularly. Early years providers should also register with National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN) which provides many free resources including 9 hour structured CPD focusing on SEND and the graduated approach. Early years providers can register on a bronze package for free and opt to access more detailed resources through the subscription route of silver or gold packages.

Contact details

Name: Andrea Riley

Telephone: 01925 442043


Address: Warrington Borough Council, Buttermarket Street, Warrington, WA1 2NH


Childcare fees 
Additional Funding for Early Years Settings

Parent/carer and toddler groups


Pre-schools and nurseries

Children's centres 

Family Support Model information and forms 

SEND legislation and guidance  

Annual review documents  

Education, health & care (EHC plans) 

Complex case referrals

The portage service 

Early years development journal

Person shaped support  

SEND (Special educational needs and disabilities) information and guidance 

Online resources 

  • Focus on SEND training is a free course aiming to help teachers and educational practitioners working across the 0 – 25 years age range to develop high quality practice in order to better meet the needs of their learners with SEND. Click here for more information and to access free online training.
  • The SEND Gateway, an online portal offering education professionals free, easy access to high quality information, resources and training for meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities.