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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 4 teams who help:

  • Portage service – working with children from birth until they are 2 and a half
  • Early Years SEND Inclusion team – working with children from birth until they go to school
  • Early Years Communication and Interaction team – working with children from birth until they go to school
  • Early Years Inclusion Practitioners – supporting children in settings and foundation stage of school who are at risk of exclusion

Ask for extra help

If you think your child needs extra help with their development, the first step is to discuss concerns with professionals involved. If needed, an application to the Early Years team can be made.

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 weekly during the term-time.

Your child can also be referred by their:

  • nursery, pre-school, playgroup or childminder
  • public health nurse (health visitor)
  • paediatrician
  • any other professional involved

Early Years Panel Referral Form   

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Portage service

Portage is a home-based educational service for children from birth to 2 and a half years old. Portage home visitors build strong relationships with parents/carers and they give practical help and advice through home visits. Children and parents are also offered access to group sessions which are run in localities around the county. Each session has an educational focus and provides parents the opportunity to meet other families. Family events are run throughout the year (Christmas, Easter and summer) when families can come together.

Referrals to the service are considered at the Early Years Panel. Referrals can be made by parents, health professionals and setting SENCos.

Portage is offered to children who attend a pre-school provision for up to two days a week. Children who attend for more sessions each week may be offered support from the Early Years SEND Inclusion team where there is a greater focus on work within the child’s early years setting. Children can also move to this team when they are 2 and a half years old.

Leicestershire’s Portage service is accredited by the National Portage Association (NPA). The NPA has rated Leicestershire’s Portage Service as a 5-star service.

When your child is 2 and a half - 3 years old

Your child may be transferred to the Early Years SEND Inclusion team if they need help at home.

Early Years SEND Inclusion team

Specialist advisors and practitioners may visit your child and your family at home or at their nursery or both. 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 SEND Inclusion advisor 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

Early Years Communication and Interaction team

Specialist advisors and practitioners work with children with a diagnosis of autism, on the pathway of a diagnosis, or with social communication and interaction needs, from birth until their first term in school. They may work at home, or in settings or both. The Early Years Communication and Interaction team can:

  • Develop understanding around sensory processing and social communication
  • Model some strategies for parents and professionals
  • Give advice about environments and the role of the adult in the nursery
  • Contribute to an assessment

Early Years Inclusion Practitioners

The Inclusion Practitioners work with children at risk of exclusion, until they are statutory school age. This work is based in settings and schools and can take the form of:

  • Advice
  • Modelling
  • Intensive support
  • Supporting dual placements
  • Supporting statutory assessments

Early Years Inclusive Play Sessions

If you have contact with our service, via one of the four teams, you can access one of our Inclusive Play Sessions. Inclusive play sessions run in the Easter and summer school holidays in various locations around the county. More information can be sought from your child's practitioner/advisor.

Graduated Approach booklet

Where a child continues to make less than the expected progress, despite evidence-based support and interventions that are matched to the child’s area of need, practitioners in early years settings should consider involving appropriate specialists, the decision to be taken with the child’s parents.

The Graduated Approach booklet helps providers identify need and put in the appropriate strategies to support the child, before seeking this additional guidance from specialists. This is used as part of the Graduated Approach of Assess, Plan, Do, Review.

Graduated Approach for children with SEND in the early years - booklet  Opens new window

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