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Extra help for pre-school children

Children up to statutory school age with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may be able to get home visits and extra teaching to help with their development.

There are 2 types of help:

  • Portage service - who work with children from birth to their third birthday
  • Early years SEN inclusion service – who work with children from birth until they go to school

Ask for extra help

If you think your child needs extra help with their development the Early Years Referral Panel will look at your application and decide which service is best placed to meet your needs.

The panel meets every 2 weeks during the school year and includes people from the:

  • Early Years SEN Inclusion service
  • Psychology service
  • Autism Outreach service

Your child can also be referred by their:

  • playgroup or nursery
  • health visitor
  • paediatrician

Contact the Specialist Teaching Service or complete the referral form:

Early Years Panel Referral Form  

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Portage service

‘Portage’ home visitors work with babies and young children (up to the age of 3) who have significant learning difficulties and disabilities.

Your portage home visitor will:

  • find out what your child can do, what they like to do and what you would like to teach your child
  • agree 6-month goals for what you want your child to achieve
  • break these goals down into activities
  • show you how to teach the activities
  • work with other professionals who are helping your child

They’ll visit you either weekly or every 2 weeks during school term times.

When your child is 3 years old

Your child may be transferred to the early years SEN inclusion service if they need help at home after their third birthday.

Early years SEN inclusion service

Specialist teachers and practitioners may visit your child and your family at home or at their nursery. They work with children who have a:

  • much greater difficulty in learning than most others of the same age
  • disability that stops them doing activities that most other children of the same age can do

They work with children from just after birth until they start school.

Your early years SEN inclusion teacher or practitioner can:

  • teach your child in your home and show you how you can teach your child
  • use play to help your child learn by observing and imitating them – this is called ‘modelling learning’
  • give you and the nursery advice on how to improve your child’s learning, communication, personal and emotional skills
  • contribute to an assessment
  • tell you about other help you can get for your child


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