Caring for children with Special Educational Needs and / or disabilities (SEND)


Childminders are often asked to care for children with special educational needs and / or disabilities because of their low ratios. In many cases, childminders have experience of caring for children with special educational needs or disabilities and have attended extra training to update their skills and knowledge.

A child has SEND if they have a learning difficulty or disability which means they have ‘significantly greater difficulty in learning’ than other children of the same age and they require special educational provision to be made for them.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requires providers to be inclusive and to share information with parents about how they support the needs of children with special educational needs or disabilities. For this reason, all early years providers need a SEND Policy to share information about their provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities with parents. See a sample SEND Policy.

The SEND Code of Practice (2014 – updated 2015) requires all early years providers to be inclusive and the Equality Act (2010) requires providers to be ‘anticipatory’ and to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable the care of children with SEND. If you are a funded provider – if you provide the 2, 3 or 4 year funding – you must have a copy of and ‘have regard to’ the Code of Practice. The EYFS clarifies that: ‘"Having regard" to these provisions means that early years providers must take them into account when providing early years provision and should not depart from them unless there is good reason for doing so’. See the useful guide to the Code of Practice for parents and carers.

Early years providers must also identify a SENCO to comply with the EYFS 2017 – for childminders, you are the SENCO. You should also have support from your Local Authority – ask if you are not sure. Providers might also be required to write a Local Offer – this requirement varies depending on your Local Authority. Your Local Authority will also have a Local Offer on their website which you can share with parents.

At the age of 2, early years providers are required to provide parents with information about their child’s learning and development – this is the only statutory tracking document required by the EYFS. The requirement is to include any areas where the child is struggling or at risk of falling behind as well as to talk about the child’s progress across the prime areas of learning. Read our guide on writing a 2 year progress check.

Chapters in the SEND information guide series

·       Chapter 1 – Children with SEND

·       Chapter 2 – Children with SEND at inspection

·       Chapter 3 – Listening to children and parents

·       Chapter 4 – Planning for children with SEND

·       Chapter 5 – Managing children’s individual needs

·       Chapter 6 – Inclusion and an audit

·       Chapter 7 – SENCO toolkit.

Useful Links

SEND Code of Practice (2014 – updated 2015)

Equality Act (2010)

SEND: guide for early years settings

Supporting children with SEND throughout the early years

Local area SEND inspections: one year on (Ofsted publication, Nov 2017)

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