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How can children with SEND be supported before and when starting primary school?

This article is about the range of services and support available to young children aged 0 – 5 years old with Special Educational Needs and or Disabilities (SEND).

You can find out more about what service are available to support families and children from birth up to starting school.  

Click on the headings below to find more information.

A healthy start from birth...

Healthy Start Food Vouchers can be exchange at some shops and supermarkets for:

  • Whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed cow's milk  
  • Any kind of plain, fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables; whole or chopped, packaged or loose

You may be able to get free Healthy Start Food Vouchers if:

  • You get certain benefits
  • You are pregnant and under 18

Your doctor, midwife or health visitor can tell you more.

Click the link to find out more: Free Healthy Start food vouchers


Nutrition and Dietetics 

Specially trained children’s dieticians offer advice and treatment to children who are having difficulties eating the right food. They are part of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Professionals from the service see patients in Homerton Hospital; in the community (e.g. Children’s Centres, Hackney Ark) and sometimes in people’s homes.

Click the link to find out more: Nutrition and Dietetics (Children)

Are you worried about your under 5 year old’s development?

If you feel concerned about your child's development their walking or talking, or their behaviour you can talk about it with your health visitor or GP.

It can be useful to write down examples of the things that you are worried about to help you remember exactly what you noticed so that you can be clear when you talk about it with them. Your health visitor or GP will be able to discuss your child progress with you and help you find support if it is needed.

Tip for parents – If your child has a physical symptom that only shows sometimes, it may help health professionals understand what is going on if you can film what happens on your phone and show them.  Always make sure that your child is safe e.g. someone else may need to hold them while you film. Use your own phone so that you can keep control of the video.


Registering your baby with a doctor or GP

It is important to register your baby with your GP as early as possible in case you need their help.

You can sign the pink card you'll be given when you register your baby's birth and take it or post it to your GP.

You can contact your GP at any time, whether it's for you or your child.

Some GPs will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment, but be prepared to wait.

Some GP’s give advice on the phone.

Most GPs have regular child health clinics.

Click here to find out more: NHS Choices - find a GP


Health visitors

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are trained to offer support to all families with children under 5.  They visits families with new babies, carry out development checks, provide advice to parents about crying and how to support a baby’s sleep patterns.

Health Visitors work together with parents and local services like Children’s Centres, social care services and GPs to provide support and make sure families get a good start in life.

Ongoing support is provided for a longer time to families with more complex issues.

Click here to find out more:  Health visitors


Developmental milestones

You can use this online guide from the NHS to see when most children are expected to learn to do new things and gain certain skills. Ages in the guide are averages and some children may well develop one skill earlier than another.

The guide is a useful starting point to measure and understand your childs development and what to do about any concerns.

Click here to find out more: NHS milestones in your child’s development from birth to five


The 2 year old review

When your child is around 27 months old, you will be invited to a review with your health visitor (and your child’s key worker if your child is at nursery or playgroup in Hackney).

The review will cover your child’s progress and development, and looks at feeding, growth, communication, behaviour, sleep, dental care, physical skills, etc.

You will need to fill in a simple questionnaire for the review that will ask you about how your child is playing, learning and developing at home.  

You will need to bring your child's red book to the review.

Click here for more information: 2 year old reviews - information for parents


Nursery and playgroup SENCOs

Nurseries and playgroups have experienced staff who see lots of children with a range of needs. Ask to speak to your child’s keyworker and the SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator) about your concerns. They have training and access to additional help if needed. 


Childminders are part of a network that also gives them access to advice from professionals if it is needed. 

Click here for more information: Childminders in Hackney


Speech and language therapy

If notice your child is having difficulties talking, communicating, drinking, or swallowing, Speech and Language Therapists may be able to help. To get free advice from a Speech and Language Therapist you can drop in to one of the monthly Talking Walk-in groups held at Children’s Centres all over the borough.

Click here for more information: 

Children's Integrated Speech and Language Therapy Service for Hackney and the City

Speech Language and Communication Needs


Children’s Centres in Hackney

Centres for families with children under 5 that offer free stay and play drop-in sessions, support, access to child and family health services as well as childcare.

Click here for more information: Children’s Centres in Hackney

Specialist SEND support services for children aged 0 - 5

Speech and Language Therapy

If your child is having difficulties talking, communicating, drinking, or swallowing, a Speech and Language Therapists may be able to help.

Monthly Talking Walk-in groups are held at Children’s Centres across the borough. You do not need an appointment and you can get advice from a Speech and Language Therapist. Children with significant additional needs will be given more support.

Click here for more information: Speech and language


Occupational Therapy (OT)

The OT team assess children who are experiencing functional difficulties with everyday tasks:

  • at home e.g. self-care s kills– dressing, using cutlery
  • at school activities e.g. using scissors, changing for PE, and play activities

For children with physical disabilities the service assesses and makes recommendations around equipment and adaptations in the school and home environment.

Functional difficulties may be due to

  • physical or neurological disability
  • co-ordination difficulty
  • sensory difficulty
  • learning difficulty
  • developmental delay.

Depending on the outcome of an assessment and depending on the child’s needs the child and family are then either offered advice or a series of treatment sessions are offered to work towards an agreed goal/ outcome.

Click here for more information: Children’s Occupational Therapy


Multi-Agency Referrals (MARS)

If your child has complex health and social care needs that need co-ordinated agency involvement your hospital or GP may refer them to MARS based at Hackney Ark

MARS meetings are a forum for professionals to discuss any new referrals to the Hackney Ark and to share information about progress of existing cases.

Click here for more information: Multi-Agency Referrals (MARS)


Portage

If your child does not go to a nursery or playgroup yet, and has significantly delayed development the Portage service may can help.

Portage work closely with families to help them understand their individual child’s development, provide a targeted home-visiting service, offer practical ideas to help with different aspects of child development, liaise with other specialist services, and help your child move into a playgroup or nursery setting. 

There is a regular drop in group for children on the waiting list.

To find more information click here: Portage 


Keyworking Team

The Keyworking Team work with families with children who have been newly diagnosed with complex health and social needs requiring at least three specialist services from Hackney Ark.

The Keyworking Team support families with a child with complex health and social needs when they are new to the borough.  

Click here for more information: Keyworking Team


Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans

Most children and young people with special educational needs/disability (SEND) will not need an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC plan). Nursery and schools already have funding to provide the extra help to young children called “SEN support”.

Children who despite additional support in their education setting are still not making expected progress and SEND is the reason may need an assessment for an EHC plan.  

An EHC plan is a legal document that describes a child or young person’s SEND needs, and the extra help that will be given from various services while they are in education. 

To find more information click here: Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans


If your child has an Education health and Care Plan they will have an annual review to assess what is working and what could be improved.

Information and helpful resources about Hackney Learning Trust's Annual Review process is available in the download section of the following pages...

Resources page for SENCOs and other SEND professionals

Groups for parents who have children with additonal needs

Parent / carer forums

Finding out that your child has SEND can be a difficult time. Many parents find talking about it with others who have has similar experiences helpful.

Each local authority has a parent carer forum funded by the Department for Education in Hackney this is HiP - Hackney Independent Parent's Forum.

HiP is run by parents and carers for parents and carers. They put on useful SEND event and information sessions for parents. 

HiP aim to get families’ voices heard wherever decisions about local services are being made by health, education and social care professionals.

HiP are active on social media where they share useful local and national information or interest to parents and carers. 

To find more information click here: HiP – Hackney forum for parents/ carers of children with disabilities


Contact a Family

Contact a Family are a national charity who provide information, advice and support to families, parents and carers about a wide range of additional needs, disabilities and health conditions.

You can find local support groups using their website and they have a benfits helpline that parents nationally rate highly. 

To find more information click here: Contact a Family


What's on?

Hackney's Local Offer - What's on? page has information about:

  • occasional activities or events for children with SEND
  • information sessions for parents and carers
  • specialist sessions for young children e.g. Drop session for children aged 0 - 4 with a Visual Impairment drop-in and their families, access to the sensory room and toys as well as a chance to meet other families and get support and advice.

 

To find more information click here:  Hackney's Local Offer - What's on?

Finding and paying for childcare

Choosing childcare

To help you find the right childcare there are up to date lists of registered nurseries, including schools with nursery classes, playgroups and childminders in Hackney.  

You can also find information on:

  • Free childcare for some 2 year olds
  • Free childcare for all 3 & 4 year olds (note, from September 2017 most working families will be able to receive 30 hours free childcare in term time)
  • Tax free childcare

 To find more information click here: Choosing childcare


Portage

If your child does not go to a nursery or playgroup yet, and has significantly delayed development the Portage service may can help.

Portage work closely with families to help them understand their individual child’s development, provide a targeted home-visiting service, offer practical ideas to help with different aspects of child development, liaise with other specialist services, and help your child move into a playgroup or nursery setting. 

There is a regular drop in group for children on the waiting list.

To find more information click here: Portage 


Supported Childcare Funding

Supported childcare funding is a specialist fund for children with significant needs attending a nursery, playgroup, or childminder. Supported childcare funding is allocated to provide resources to support those who are eligable to access childcare and education. 

This funding is available for registered nurseries, child minders and playgroups. A referral from the provider is required.

Supported childcare funding can be used flexibly by the setting to buy specialist equipment or to fund one to one support on a short term basis, while a child’s needs are being assessed.

There is high demand and limited funding for the service and it allocated according to the needs of identified children. 

To find more information click here: Supported childcare funding


Early Support - Area SENCo

The Early Support teacher and Area Senco work with nursery/education settings to support children aged 0 - 5 years old who have SEN.

They advise and support parents/carers, and provide specialist teaching and interventions to help development and support children with SEND making the transition to primary school.

To find more information click here: Early Support and Area Senco Team - Inclusion and Specialist Support Team


Preparing to start primary school

Transition – help with getting your child with SEND ready for school

Starting primary school can be one of the biggest transitions in a child’s life.  As a parent you will want to support your child in any way you can.  Most parents worry about how their child will manage school.  This can be especially true for parents of children with SEND. 

The NCSE (National Council for Special Education) has useful information for parents about starting school.

To find more information click here: NCSE - Starting School Guidelines for Parents/Guardians of Children with Special Educational Needs


Most children will already be attending a nursery, playgroup or other early years setting. The settings keyworker and SENCO will help with the transition to school by providing them with written information about your child’s needs, abilities and progress to date.

If you are worried about your child’s learning you can ask to speak to the class teacher or the school SENCo.

Your GP, early years practitioner or other education, health or social care professionals may also be able to help. 


Support for those with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in mainstream schools

The law says all schools must provide SEN support for a child/young person if they have special educational needs. Children and young people are considered to have SEND if they:

“Have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age”

or

“if they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age.”

This is the government definition given SEND Code of Practice - 2014/15.

To find more information click here: Parents SEND Code of Practice - reforms guide

The full version is available here: SEND Code of Practice 2014/15


It is also helpful to understand what primary schools are expected to do. 

You can find out more about this in the following articles. 


Applying for a place at primary school

Most children with SEND will go to a local mainstream school. 

To find more information click here: Primary Schools in Hackney

Children with more severe or complex needs they may need to go to a special school or school with additionally resourced provision. As a parent you have a say in this decision.

To find more information click here: Types of school places for children with SEND


School admissions and pupil benefits

Children start primary school in the September of the year they are four years old.  This year is called their Reception Year. 

There is an online system to apply for a place at primary school. The school admissions handbook that explains how places are prioritised. 

You can apply the year before your child starts up to the beginning of January.

To find more information click here: Admissions - Hackney Learning Trust

If you have a medical reason for your child to attend a particular school you will need to provide evidence from a professional e.g. a medical consultant which demonstrates the connection between your child’s need and why your child should be given a place at a particular school.

Some children will be able to receive Pupil Benefits like free school meals and school uniform vouchers.

To find more information click here: Pupil Benefits - Hackney Learning Trust

Each school is required by the government to publish an SEN information Report on their website showing you how they support children with SEND at their school. This can be useful in helping find the school a school that provides the right fit for your child.


Applying for primary schools when a child has an EHC (Education Health Care) plan

Children who have an EHC Plan follow a different process. Hackney Learning Trust’s SEND department will contact you and ask you which schools you would like to consider for your child. They will consult with your preferred schools, to determine whether your child’s needs can be met there.  Following this process, a school will be named on your child’s EHC Plan.

To find more information click here: Special Educational Needs Administration Team


Specialist information and advice education service - SENDIAGS

The Hackney SEND Information, Advice and Guidance Service (SENDIAGS) is an arm's length service providing impartial and confidential information, advice and support to parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND)

They can help you explore options to resolve disagreements with schools or provide support and information if you want to make a complaint.

The service runs regular advice and drop in sessions but you can also make appointments to speak to an advisor privately.

SENDIAGS have produced some very useful guides for parents. The two guides below relate to starting school for pupils with SEND.

SENDIAGS - SEN Support in mainstream schools

SENDIAGS - EHC needs assessment for children in early years settings or at school

To find more information on this service click here: Hackney SENDIAGS (SEND Information, Advice and Guidance Service)

 

Support for families

First Steps Early Intervention Community Psychology Service - CAMHS:

First Steps is an NHS psycology service for children and young people aged 0 – 18 years and their families. The service is part of City and Hackney CAMHS and they work in partnership with other CAMHS services.

The aim of the service is to offer early help with any difficulties related to behaviour, emotions and relationships before they become more complicated or difficult to address. 

To find more information click here: First Steps Early Intervention Community Psychology Service


Disabled Children’s Service

Disabled Children’s Service provides social care support for families with disabled children. The team undertakes a Child and Family Needs Assessment to see what the family needs, and the outcome of this assessment could lead to a support package in the form of Direct Payments, or through an approved care agency.

To find more information click here: Disabled Children’s Service


CAMHS Disability Service

CAMHS Disability Service is a specialist NHS service with a multidisciplinary team. CAMHS Disability:

  • work is with children and young people with moderate to profound learning disabilities. 
  • work with other professionals to make sure everyone is working towards the same goals. 
  • run groups to share skills and support parents
  • run support groups for siblings of disabled children

To find more information click here: CAMHS Disability Service


Short Breaks

Short Breaks allow eligible disabled children or young people to have an enjoyable break away from their main carer, and give the carer a break from their caring responsibilities.

To find more information click here: Short Breaks


Children’s Centres in Hackney

There are 21 Children’s Centres in Hackney. Children's Centres are universal services for all families with children under 5.

Children's Centres  offer FREE stay and play drop-in sessions, family support, access to child and family health services as well as childcare. 

There are a range of services for all children including those with SEND. 

Referrals for Early Help

A CAF (Common Assessment Framework) referral, may be made to the children’s centre Multi-Agency Team (MAT) meeting for Early Help, where there are two or more needs impacting on the child and the child is not already supported by Hackney Ark. 

For more information directly contact the appropriate Children’s Centres.:

To find more information click here: Children’s Centres in Hackney


Hackney Ark Resource Centre – Information and Advice

The Resource Centre is an advice and information service for parents and or carers of children with SEND (and the professionals who work with them).  They have specialist refrence books, leaflets, funding packs and free access to two computers. 

You can also make an appointment for support to fill in Disability Living Allowance forms. If there is no availability The Resource Centre coordinator will advise who elese can help. 

The Resource Centre is also a space where other services run support groups for example ASD parents’ coffee mornings, Short Breaks surgeries etc.

To find more information click here: Hackney Ark Resource Centre

Places to go and things to do for young children in Hackney

Active play with others is important for the development of all children particularly children with SEND. 

Take a look at the range of services available for children, and see how they could meet your child’s needs, perhaps with some modifications. 

Some services have sessions specifically for children with disabilities, although individual children's needs vary. 


What’s on? page of Hackney's Local Offer

This pages has information about a wide range of activities in Hackney tailored to specifically meet the needs of families with children with SEND.  It includeds specialist sports sessions, parents information sessions and opportunities for young people. 

To find more information click here: What’s on? 


Short Breaks

Short Breaks allow eligible disabled children or young people to have an enjoyable break away from their main carer, and give the carer a break from their caring responsibilities

To find more information click here: Short Breaks


Adventure Playgrounds in Hackney

Adventure Playgrounds are free spaces for children to explore adventurous play. They usually have large wooden outdoor structures for children to climb on as well as other activities.  They are supervised by playworkers, but are generally free to come and go as they please this is referred to as open access. 

To find more information click here: Adventure Playgrounds in Hackney

Hackney also has a specialist adventure playground that has closed access for children with more profound needs and disabilities.  

To find more information click here: KIDS Adventure Playground


Parks and outdoor spaces in Hackney

Hackney has the largest expanse of green space in inner London.  It's 58 parks have many facilities including:

  • play equipment
  • outdoor paddling pools
  • tennis courts
  • basketball pitch
  • football pitch
  • wooden gym apparatus
  • cricket pitch
  • outdoor table tennis tables
  • city farm
  • aviary
  • BMX cycle track
  • conservation areas
  • ponds and rivers
  • athletics tracks and more. 

Some parks run sepcific activities during the weekends and school holidays.

To find more information click here: Parks and outdoor spaces in Hackney


Swimming pools and leisure centres

Find out about the local swimming pools and leisure centres.

  • Clissold Leisure Centre
  • Kings Hall
  • Britannia Leisure Centre
  • Queensbridge Sports and Community Centre

..all run specific inclusive or specialist session. 

To find more information click here: Swimming pools and leisure centres in Hackney


Libraries in Hackney

Libraries in Hackney have under 5's story sessions which include rhymes and singing and are a place for parents to chat and meet and make new friends. 

Free activities are often available for children during the holidays.

Libraries are also one of the places parents can request Bookstart packs from The Book Trust. Including specialsit packs for children with additional needs. 

Booktouch

There are two packs available for children between the ages of 0-5 who are blind or partially sighted:

• Booktouch Baby (0-2 years old)
• Booktouch (3-5 years old)

Bookshine
There are two packs available for children between the ages of 0-5 who are deaf or
hearing impaired:


• Bookshine Baby (0-2 years old)
• Bookshine (3-5 years old)

Bookstart Star
For children aged 3-5 who have a condition or disability that impacts on or delays their
fine motor skills.

To find more information click here:Bookstart packs for all children

To find more information click here: Libraries in Hackney

Additional information...

What is Person Centred Planning?

Person centred planning, sometimes referred to as PCP, aims to…

  • Put the parent and child or young person is at the heart of the process
  • Highlight the child or young person’s strengths and interests

All professionals and people working with them should ensure that parents, children and young people are genuinely involved in all aspects of planning and decision making. 

Click here for more information:  What is Person Centred Planning?


0 - 5 years childcare...

Free early years education for some two year olds

Free part-time nursery places for all three to four year olds

Children’s Centres in Hackney

Nursery Schools and classes in Hackney

Norwood Hackney Family Centre 


Other health related services for 0 -5 year olds....

Hackney Ark

Health Visiting Service

Children’s Occupational Therapy

Children’s Physiotherapy Service

Hackney Family Support Service

First Steps - Early Intervention Community Psychology Service


Education information 4 and 5 years  - 11 year olds...

Primary schools in Hackney


Other organisations...


HCVS - Hackney Council for Voluntary Services

Family Action


Also see related Local Offer pages...

How does Hackney assist pupils with SEND to access schools and the National Curriculum?

SEN support in mainstream school

Hackney's SEN Funding for school

Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) information questions and answers...

What is Person Centred Planning?

What do they mean? Jargon Buster

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