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Early Years - SENCO Guide for professionals

Early Years SENCO Guide Panel


Related legislation and guidance

There are a number of key legislative frameworks which govern your work as a SENCO.  As a SENCO, it is vital to have a good knowledge of the key aspects of each.


Frameworks relating to setting inspections


The role of the SENCO

The role of the SENCO in Early Years settings is clearly described in chapter 5 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice


Getting support for children with SEND in the early years

The Plymouth Graduated Approach to inclusion framework for Early Years 0-5 should be used as a tool to support all staff to identify, assess and record the needs of children  requiring additional or special educational provision. This framework is designed to support the identification, planning and recording of appropriate support and provides guidance for reviewing progress.

Applying for a Statutory Assessment 

A Statutory Assessment is a process where information is collected from the settings / childminders and all professionals involved with a child or young person which will enable the Local Authority (LA) to gain a clear picture of their education health and care needs. Below you will find a number of links that will provide further information about statutory assessment.

EHCP professional portal


Plymouth, Devon and Torbay Early Communication and Language monitoring tool

This tool outlines key milestones in speech, language and communication development to support identification of children's needs in the Early Years Foundation Stage as part of the Graduated Approach to Inclusion.

The purpose of this tool is to help assess a child's level of development in order to make informed decisions about what the child needs to learn and be able to do next. The tool can help practitioners to notice whether a child is at risk of falling behind in their development and supports early identification of the need for referral for specialist support.


SEND useful contacts


SENCO news updates and Early Years SENCO briefings

Working with parents

Early Years SENCO briefings

Early Years SENCO briefings are held on a regular basis.

This session gives SENCOs the opportunity to be updated on local and national information.

Watch the Early Years SENCO Sessions videos

Early Years SENCO webinars

SEN Inclusion Fund Paperwork Webinar, 7 December 2022

Enhanced Transition Evaluation Network

14 November 2023 (Part 1)

14 November 2023 (Part 2)


9 May 2023 (Part 1)

9 May 2023 (Part 2)


The help you need, at the time you need it

Access (Community Health, Wellbeing and SEND)

Graduated Approach to Inclusion for Early Years helps children, young people, families and professionals to get advice and help from the most appropriate service, at the level required and in a timely way without having to keep repeating the same story.

Schools and settings use the Graduated Approach to Inclusion for Early Years framework to support the 'assess, plan, do, review' cycle of support for the children aged 0-5.  Use Access to get the help you need, at the time you need it.

Three organisations are part of Access and can help with community, health and wellbeing support for young people with SEND.

  • Livewell Southwest 
    Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Speech and Language, Health Visiting, School Nursing
  • University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) 
    Child Development Centre/Community Paediatric Services
  • Plymouth City Council SEND Service
    Early Years Inclusion Service, Advisory Support Team, Local Authority Occupational Therapy Team, Children's Disability Social Work Team, 0-25 SEND Statutory Assessment Team, Plymouth LA Educational Psychology Service and Short Breaks.

If you are working with a child or young person with SEND and it has been agreed with the family that "more help" may be required from a service so that further assessment or intervention can take place you must use the  Request For More Help Form (Word doc) [113KB] . Completed forms should be emailed to

It may be helpful that a discussion with a PCC SEND professional and parents takes place before a Request for More Help is made. See below for info on how to contact the SEND Advice Line.

In order for us to be able to discuss a request for involvement, paperwork submitted should include:

  • Permission from parent to share information with PCC SEND
  • up to date summative assessment,
  • the most recent reviewed Individual Education Plan (IEP) and 1 Page profiles if the child has one
  • a chronology of support and interventions including the Graduated Approach,
  • any additional relevant reports or records e.g. speech and language report
  • Plymouth, Devon and Torbay Early Communication and Language monitoring tool, Play Skills checklist,
  • step and area of need of the Early Years Developmental Journal
  • a covering letter explaining what you need support with (optional)

Plymouth Early Help and SEND Advice line

If you would like advice or guidance about a family or child you live or work with, please book a conversation with one of our Family Support Workers using our online form.

We can offer support around issues such as emotional wellbeing, parenting guidance, school attendance, social and emotional development and SEND concerns using this service. Call backs are available from 9am to 4pm each weekday via the advice line and the booking form gives you the opportunity to choose a half-hour slot that works for you. 

Early Years Inclusion Fund

The aim of the Plymouth Early Years Inclusion Fund is to ensure children receive timely, planned and monitored early interventions to ensure they remain included in their setting and are provided with additional opportunities to access and experience the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.

Accessing other Professional Support

Speech and Language

Speak first to LIVEWELL Southwest who will guide whether your case is suitable for a referral. Some Speech and language training can be accessed free. Call 01752 434844 or email

Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (Infant Mental Health - IMH)

Speak first to IMH before making a direct referral. Call 01752 434615

Child Development Centre (CDC) including the ASC pathway

Via the family GP. Some families may appreciate the setting writing a supporting letter for them to take particularly if they struggle to share information.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

OT support, most children who need OT support will have this already in place but as a setting you may need advice. Call the Gateway on 01752 668000.

Team Around Me (TAM)

This is a regular meeting of the agencies involved in supporting the child/family. The plan in the EHAT should be used to record what all parties agree to  do e.g. parent will take Freddy for a hearing test, Health Visitor (HV) to support mum with sleep routine, setting to support language development by increasing number of nouns used. The setting may need to coordinate meetings including completing paperwork and this may include chairing meetings including creating an agenda. For advice, contact Gateway.



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Plymouth's Local Offer is organised into four main categories covering the following age ranges:

 Plymouth Local Offer homepage



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