Early Years

​This page tells you what support is available for very young children with special education needs and disabilities.

​This page tells you what support is available for very young children with special educational needs and disabilities. Last updated: 25/02/2020

What is Early Years?

  • The early years foundation stage (EYFS) promotes inclusive teaching and learning to ensure all children’s ‘school readiness’, which will provide the best foundation for good future progress through school and life. 
  • At times, some children will experience barriers to learning and it is the responsibility of all providers of early education and childcare to identify each child’s individual needs, in order to overcome these barriers.
  • As soon as any concerns are highlighted, it is essential that a child’s needs are identified as early as possible and actions are taken to support them.
  • For more information on the EYFS, please click here.

Local offer

Every local authority is required to publish a ‘local offer’ that describes the provision of support available to meet children’s individual needs. Early years have set out their inclusive approach and how it contributes to Northumberland County Council’s local offer.

Early Years local offer

The following document outlines the guidance and practice early years providers follow, in order to help children and young people with SEND, and their families. It has been promoted to all early years providers, so that they can reflect on their inclusive practice. 

Early Years local offer - Good practice guidance

The Northumberland Early Years local offer is based upon 6 ‘key principles’ that summarise the entitlement all children and their families can expect from Early Years providers across the county. These principles were identified through consultation and partnership, working with a wide range of professionals and parents, with the aim of representing the voice of the child.

Early Years Inclusion Fund

The inclusion fund is for 2, 3 and 4 year olds who are taking up a number of hours of free entitlement with a childminder, preschool setting or nursery. The fund is targeted at children with lower level or emerging needs, to help providers better address the needs of individual children. 

It should support the implementation of strategies that are additional to, or significantly different from, what is normally provided to other children of the same age. The Inclusion Fund will be passed to providers in the form of short term additional support and resources, on a case by case basis decided by the Early Years Inclusion Panel.

Related pages

Please click on the headings below for further information on various related topics. 

If you are an early years provider, please explore the links below to find out more information and view resources regarding the Early Years scheme. The Early Years SEND policy and practice can also be found here. This document includes information about Early Years funding that may be helpful for providers.

All providers have access to a range of tools and resources available that can support children within their provision. This includes the Northumberland Early Years Inclusion Toolkit, which provides an opportunity for staff and parents to plan a range of actions, strategies, and interventions together to offer a consistent approach.
Learning together at home

The Early Years team has put together some learning together at home packs - to support the parents of under 5s who are not able to access education at nursery, school or with their childminder due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

We want to support you to continue the school readiness journey for your children with some ideas for simple, play-based activities to try together at home. 

We are also sharing a story called ‘Belle and Billy Stay at Home’- designed to help children make sense of the current situation. A new chapter will be released each week. 

You can find all of the learning together at home packs and Belle and Billy story chapters, plus many more resources for parents with under 5s, by clicking this link.
The Early Years Team is made up of a range of staff who have expertise in various areas. We ensure the early years foundation stage (EYFS) is delivered by all early education and childcare providers to the standards required in the Early Years Code of Practice.

What does the Early Years team do?

The Early Years team works in partnership with a range of stakeholders within the private, voluntary, and independent sector to deliver an inclusive, high quality service from birth to five. By working in partnership with others, we aim to provide high quality care and education for all children in their local community. 

Our team provides training, support, and advice for early years providers. We challenge the implementation of the EYFS across all types of early years provision. We also work to ensure that children and families are well informed, and receive their early years entitlements - this includes the national two year old offer, 3 and 4 year old entitlement, and 30 hours of childcare.

The Early Years team:
  • offer continuous professional development, achieved through a range of high quality training that supports childminders, settings, and schools to meet the EYFS statutory framework
  • deliver personalised local training courses to whole group settings, schools, and groups of childminders
  • aim to  support, advise, and challenge all providers so that they meet welfare requirements, to ensure their settings are welcoming, safe, and stimulating
  • provide advice and support to ensure providers meet registration requirements
  • lead and deliver an early years improvement strategy, to make sure providers achieve good or better under a revised early years inspection framework.

Meet the Early Years Team

  • Early Years Advisor - Katie Waston
  • Early Years Consultants - Kay Summers, Claire Johnson, Rosy Dickson
  • Childcare Development Workers - Diane Williamson, Jill Prescott, Julie Murray
  • Early Years Inclusion Consultants - Joce Kitt, Amy Cowan, Julie Beattie: Early Years Inclusion Consultants (Area SENCOs) provide advice and support for pre-school children with SEND, their parents/carers, and early years staff. 
  • Early Years and Childcare Sustainability and Workforce Manager - Theresa Iley
  • Early Years Development Project Manager - Eve Sinclair
  • Early Years Digital Development Administrative Assistant - Sophie Downing
  • Early Years Administrative Assistant - Lesley Kelly

Benefits of working with the Early Years team

  • Free online resources. 
  • Telephone and email support.
  • Regular updates covering a wide range of early years topics.
  • Face to face support and guidance, providing opportunities to reflect on all areas of your work and plan priorities of your setting, focusing on enabling quality improvement. Quality consultancy to audit, enabling the full development of effective learning environments.
  • One to one consultations to prepare for Ofsted inspections.
  • High quality training, offering opportunities for continuous professional development (CPD). CPD is an ongoing process throughout your working life; it is a requirement and helps you document your skills, knowledge, and experience.
Find out about children's centres in the Northumberland area.

Sure Start children’s centres are there to ensure all children get the best possible start in life. They’re a focal point in every community, where families with children under five can access all the services and information they need.

We have 16 children’s centres across Northumberland. We also have several play vans, packed with specialist equipment and materials to enable staff to support isolated communities.

Click here to find out more about our children's centres.

The team at Northumberland County Council aims to develop and enhance the skills and practices of school staff. We wish to improve educational outcomes for children and young people with social communication/ASD who are being taught in educational settings across Northumberland.

Please click here to find out more about Northumberland County Council's Autism Service.

The National Autistic Society

The National Autistic Society are the leading UK charity for autistic people (including those with Asperger syndrome) and their families. They provide information, support and pioneering services, and campaign for a better world for autistic people.

Please click here to find out more about the National Autistic Society.

Autism Northumberland

Autism Northumberland is a group that offer autistic children and their families a range of support, including:

  • Parent/carer support groups
  • Sibling support groups
  • Exclusive activities/events for autistic families
  • Facebook ‘members only’ group (Autism Northumberland members group)
  • After school/holiday clubs
  • Training workshops
  • Specialist teaching and coaching sessions
  • Soft play
  • Form filling & advice on schooling

Please click here to find out more about Autism Northumberland.

The speech, language and communication team of Northumberland County Council offer bespoke support for children and young people whose spoken language difficulties are affecting their attainment and progress in school.

Learn more about the speech,language and communication team of Northumberland County Council by clicking here.

NHS Children's speech and language therapy

Our children’s speech and language therapy service supports children and young people up to 18 years old. Our service is delivered in a number of ways by speech and language therapists, assistant speech and language therapists, by assistants in schools, and also through our home programmes.

Please click here to find out more about speech and language therapy.
The Behaviour Support Service provides support and advice to schools and young people. This support is for those young people displaying challenging behaviour as a result of an underlying social, emotional or mental health need.

Special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) can request support from the Behaviour Support Service by completing the SEND Support Services ‘Request for Support’ form.

PLEASE NOTE: All requests for support require signed parental consent.

Please click here for the 'Request for Support' form, or to learn more about Northumberland's Behaviour Support Service.

Here you can find information about health services available to young children in Northumberland.

There are a range of other professionals that may become involved with a child, their family, and early years providers. Sometimes this can be overwhelming, and there are systems in place that may be of support. 

Children's speech and language therapy

The children’s speech and language therapy service supports children and young people up to 18 years old. The service is delivered in a number of ways by speech and language therapists, assistant speech and language therapists, by assistants in schools, and also through our home programmes.

Please click here to view the NHS Children’s Speech and Language Therapy page.

Health visitors

Every family with children under five has a named health visitor. Their role is to offer support and encouragement to families through the early years - from pregnancy and birth, to primary school and beyond - to support you to stay healthy and avoid illness.

Please click here to visit the NHS Health Visitors page. 

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help children and young people who experience difficulties in carrying out and participating in activities of everyday life. For example, their self care, school work and play.

Please click here to visit the NHS Occupational Therapy page.