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It is vital that children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their families have access to services as early as possible.

Our aim is to provide the best start in life for every child across the borough by supporting families and educational settings to understand children’s development and needs, in a holistic way by offering advice, training and specialist strategies and resources.

What do we do?

Working in partnership with parents/carers we provide support to any child between birth and entry into full-time school (0-5 years) where learning development is delayed, or a diagnosis indicates they will have special educational needs.

Support is dependent on your child’s age, level of additional need, and the kind of help and support you may want. This could include home visiting, a place in a specialist nursery, an enhanced nursery or outreach support or monitoring. 

Families become empowered to support their child in the most beneficial way. Our service aims to increase the capacity in early year’s settings to include all children in an effective way to achieve the best outcomes for all the children in their care.

How do I make a referral?

Children are usually referred by a paediatrician, speech and language therapist, health visitor or other professional. They will always ask for your consent for a referral to be made.

We do have an open referral system so you can also make a referral by contacting us directly or ask your doctor or health visitor to refer your child.

What happens after a referral?

A special Early Years panel meets regularly to consider requests for statutory assessment and, where successful, the process will complete within 20 weeks. The process includes: 

  • Visiting your child at home or nursery, to determine what kind of help we can offer
  • Allocating successful children to the teacher covering the area in which they live

If successful, your child will receive an Early Years Support Plan.

Area SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Coordinators)

Area SENCOs are part of the Local Authority's Early Years Educational Advisory Service and have substantial experience in advising and planning the support required for children aged from birth to five that have a wide range of special needs and disabilities.

Area SENCOs provide guidance and support as children transition either from setting to setting or from their early years setting into school.

The team provide advice and support directly to setting-based SENCOs and managers on developing a SEND policy, on the early identification of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and planning for inclusion and early intervention within the SEND Code of Practice (2014) and the Equality Act (2010).

Area SENCOs offer advice, support and training to a range of early years and childcare settings including private day nurseries, preschools, and childminders on inclusive practice and meeting the needs of all children.

The team also provide advice and support for specific children where the setting requests some help to meet the child's needs. This can only happen if written consent has been obtained from parents/carers and will usually be when there are no other services supporting the child. This may include a request to observe your child in their setting.

Area SENCOs support liaison between settings, parents/carers and other professional agencies. This may include signposting to a range of professionals and services. In addition, the team support the implementation of advice from health and education support services.

Children with medical needs

Area SENCOs offer support to ensure that providers follow a framework which supports children with Medical Needs to be inducted into their early years setting safely. Before your child starts at an early year setting you may be invited to a meeting where a Health Care Plan, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, Risk Assessments or specific training may need to be organised so that the early years provider is ready to meet your child’s needs.

To access an Area SENCO:
The Area SENCOs are available all year round and can be contacted directly by telephone or email.
Age ranges: 0-5

The service is delivered in consultation with parents/carers and there is no charge to parents/carers. Area SENCOs keep parents/carers informed and involved through meetings that include them and other involved professionals. We can support transition between early years settings and also between early years settings and school.

Contact details:

Shantell Gibson
Tel: 07824 598905

Michelle Evans
Tel: 07824 598906

Settings

The EYFS framework sets the standards that all Ofsted-registered early years providers, and schools offering early years provision, must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. This includes ongoing assessment of children’s progress.

Early years providers and educational settings should have arrangements in place that include a clear approach to assessing SEN. This should be part of the setting’s overall approach to monitoring the progress and development of all children. Many nurseries offer enhanced provision to children with special needs, others offer a specialist service where the child would be unable to attend a mainstream nursery.

Enhanced nurseries

An enhanced nursery is the name given to a mainstream nursery that has extra provision for children with additional educational needs.

Each setting is supported by members of the Specialist Early Years Service.  A specialist teaching assistant will work alongside the usual nursery staff. Their role is to support the children throughout the session and work on targeted learning needs.  A specialist teacher will visit twice a week to work alongside the staff and children.  They will offer support and advice for the nursery staff and monitor the child's progress.

Specialist early years settings maintained by Dudley council:

Brockmoor specialist nursery

Who are we?

We are Brockmoor Specialist nursery part of the Specialist Early Years Service. A nursery for children with severe and complex special educational needs. Currently 10 children in the morning and 10 children in the afternoon.

What do we do?

We deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum differentiated to meet the individual needs of children attending.

A detailed ongoing assessment of the child's needs forms the basis for the Education, Health and Care plan. 
We work closely with speech therapy.

We are currently based within Brockmoor Primary School.

How do you refer or access the service/provision?

Access is strictly through the Specialist Early Years Service following a detailed assessment of need.  Anyone can refer to the service.

What happens next?

If offered a place parents visit and the staff make a home visit. The children then attend for either four mornings or four afternoons per week.

Age ranges: 2-5

Term Time Only Service: Yes

Does it cost?  No

For further information please refer to the factsheet below.

Leapfrog nursery

Who are we?

We are Leapfrog Nursery. Part of the Specialist Early Years Service.  A nursery for children with complex communication needs including ASD. Currently 8 children in the morning and 8 children in the afternoon.

What do we do?

We deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum differentiated to meet the individual needs of children attending. The children spend some time in the Leapfrog room but are also supported to access the main nursery.

A detailed on-going assessment of the child's needs forms the basis for the Education, Health and Care plan.  We work closely with speech therapy.

We are currently based within Netherton Park Nursery School.

How do you refer or access the service/provision?

Access is strictly through the Specialist Early Years Service following a detailed assessment of need.  Anyone can refer to the service.

What happens next?

If offered a place parents visit and the staff make a home visit. The children then attend for either four mornings or four afternoons per week.

Age ranges: 2-5

Term Time Only Service: Yes

Does it cost? No

For further information please refer to the Leapfrog Factsheet below.

Specialist early years provision

Dudley's Family Information Service directory contains lots of information about childcare settings, local family support organisations and leisure facilities in and around the Dudley Borough.  You can also use our local offer database to search for settings for children with SEND. 

Search Dudley's local offer database

To find out more about free childcare schemes, eligibility and how to apply please visit our Early Years and Childcare pages.

Specialist early years service factsheets