Special educational needs in early years

If you are concerned that your child may have difficulties with learning it is important to speak to someone as soon as possible – parents are often the first to notice any difficulties.

If your child has not yet started school, you could speak to your child’s preschool or childminder, doctor, health visitor, or the Specialist Early Years Service.

East Sussex County Council publishes information about services available to support children of all ages with Special Education Needs and/or Disabilities and you can find this in our Local Offer.

Early years providers (childminders and preschool settings) should regularly review and evaluate the quality and breadth of the support they offer or can access for children with SEN or disabilities. All those who work with young children should be alert to emerging difficulties and respond early. They musthave arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities. These arrangements should include a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN.

The support provided for a child attending a preschool setting should be summarised in a setting based support plan, which is shared with the child’s family. You can download the template on our Czone page.

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

Since September 1st 2014 there is a new system of assessment and planning for the few children with the most complex needs. You can find out more about this on the EHCP page.


A childcare provider may need extra funds to meet the needs of your child, for example to pay for extra staffing or special equipment. To apply for this funding both you and the childcare provider will need to complete an application form.

The form is available on czone – the website for people working in Children’s Services in East Sussex.

Key workers

If your child has a complex disability or special needs they probably receive a wide range of support services. If you would like help coordinating your appointments, and need some practical and emotional support, you could take advantage of the East Sussex Early Support and Care Coordination Scheme through the help of a key worker:

More help and advice

For more details on where you can turn for help and advice, see our page on SEN – where to get help.