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Support for SENCOs in Early Years settings

SENCO Handbook
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This handbook was specially designed to support SENCOs, and builds on initial SENCO training, enabling you to continue to develop and reflect on your everyday practice. Available for purchase on The Education People website

Development Wheels also available on The Education People website:

  • Special Educational Needs and Disability: terms and definitions
  • Inclusion.

Equality and Inclusion Team
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We provide a programme of advice, support and training to promote and enable equality and inclusion and to narrow gaps in achievement.

Access Kent funded (free) SEND support from Equality and Inclusion Team
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  • pre-Early Years Local Inclusion Forum Team (EY LIFT) advice and support including use of Best Practice Guidance and associated paperwork
  • advice for a newly appointed Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)
  • discussion regarding appropriate referral routes and multi agency paperwork
  • post-EY LIFT support including modelling of multi agency strategies.

There is a new electronic request form which you can complete and submit:

Alternatively, you can download and complete the Equality and Inclusion Special Educational Needs and Disability Support Request (DOCX, 51.7 KB) and email to

Best Practice Guidance for the Early Years (BPG)
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This document is for all early years providers and practitioners working with young children. It provides an overview of the underpinning knowledge and understanding required to meet the needs of all children at universal, targeted and personalised levels. The document and associated Audit Tools are embedded in Kent's SEND processes.

Specialist Teaching and Learning Service (STLS)
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This service works with EY settings to support individual children identified with special educational needs and disabilities at the targeted and personalised level of intervention. STLS include Specialist Teachers and Outreach services from Special Schools. All referrals for advice and Specialist Teacher involvement for pre-school settings come through the EY LIFT process (see below).

Early Years Local Inclusion Forum Team (EY LIFT)
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EY LIFT referral form available on Local Inclusion Forum Teams page.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss issues around inclusion to ensure that settings are meeting the needs of all children. Please attend the LIFT even when you do not have a child to discuss as this enables setting to setting support and ensures sharing of good practice between practitioners.

Each setting has been allocated to a LIFT group which meets termly. If you have not received information contact your Specialist Teaching and Learning Service (STLS) District Coordinator or LIFT administrator or failing that, email the Equality and Inclusion team at Remember to alert your LIFT administrator if you have a change of email address so they can keep their records up to date thus ensuring you are kept fully informed. The EY LIFT meeting does not replace the EY SENCO Forums in each district.

SEN Inclusion Fund (SENIF)
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SENIF is a statutory requirement made available by KCC to enable all PVI settings supporting pre-school children with special educational needs to secure better outcomes. SENIF Practitioners and Monitoring and Support Officers, support, monitor and evaluate the provision for individual children in receipt of SENIF Funding. For more information and the necessary paperwork including Early Years Personalised Plan see link above.

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This is an educational service for pre-school children with severe and complex needs and their families. It is a bespoke service offering Pre-school Learning Groups and Home Learning sessions depending on the needs of the child. For information about the service and how to make a referral see link above. Information is also available on the Portage website

Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP)
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An EHCP is designed to support children with severe and complex needs. An EHCP draws together professionals from education, health and social care to meet the specific needs of a child. For guidance on requesting an education, health and care assessment see link above.

Disability Access Fund (DAF)
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DAF is additional funding for providers so they can support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged three and four, in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and taking up their early education funding entitlement. For information about this funding and how to access it see link above.

Other useful pages on Kelsi
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Equality and Inclusion Resources

For useful links and paperwork to support SENCO role including Graduated Approach flow chart, Targeted Plan, SEND and AEN Records.

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) in the Early Years

For information about SEND Code of Practice, Statutory Framework, Equality Act 2010, Local Offer and details of training available to support SEND.

Return to Equality and Inclusion landing page