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Childcare options for children with special educational needs or disability

Schools, early years childcare settings, local councils and other organisations providing services to your child, must not discriminate against them if they are disabled, and must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that they have the same play and learning opportunities.

The Equalities Act 2010; The Children and Families Act 2014; and the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (covering children’s early education from 0 - 5) are in place to ensure that all children get the support they need, when they need it, and that all children have every opportunity to reach their potential.

There are early years settings and childcare providers in Kingston and Richmond that provide specialist early education or childcare for children with Special Educational Needs or who have a disability. However all childcare providers are inclusive and will work with you to ensure that they can best meet your child's needs. Childcare providers have access to information, advice, support and training to help them meet the needs of all children.

Where and how can I find suitable childcare?

You can search for childcare providers using the Childcare Search on this website.  As the Childcare Search develops we hope to be able to include more information to help you choose a childcare provider.  Until then we recommend that families visit and speak to a variety of providers to find an environment that their child will enjoy.  Childcare providers will arrange this if you contact them to ask to visit.

All childcare providers are required to provide clear information about the support they provide. This may be on their website, if they have one, or in the form of a policy or report. The Families and Childcare Trust ( see the link at the bottom of this page ) have useful advice on their website about questions to ask and things to think about when choosing childcare if your child has additional needs.

Special Educational Needs Coordinator

All group childcare settings such as nurseries and after-school clubs will have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

The role of the SENCo involves:

  • ensuring all practitioners in the setting understand their responsibilities to children with SEN and the setting's approach to identifying and meeting SEN
  • advising and supporting colleagues
  • ensuring parents are closely involved throughout and that their insights inform action taken by the setting
  • liaising with professionals or agencies beyond the setting

SENCos are supported in their role by the setting's linked Inclusion and Improvement ( I &I ) Adviser, who is part of the Achieving for Children Early Years Service. It is the role of the I&I Adviser to fully support the setting with all aspects of inclusion. 

When you are contacting childcare settings, speak to the SENCo and discuss how they can meet the needs of your child, including any additional equipment, language support or other assistance they may need. Childcare providers should make "reasonable adjustments" to their services so that your child has access to the same activities as anyone else.

The Duty to make Reasonable Adjustments (opens a new window)

You should not be charged extra because your child has a disability or special educational needs. There may be additional funds available to support your child in a setting and the SENCo in the setting will be able to discuss this with you.

Should the SENCo need to widen the support for the child then they can call upon the Early Years Service to provide advice and practical support about approaches to identification, assessment and intervention. This support also includes networks, training and disseminating good practice.

Resolving disagreements

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework requires all registered childcare providers to have a complaints procedure. This does not include complaints relating to EHC plans, which parents should take up with the local authority that issued the plan. For childcare provision registered with Ofsted concerns should be raised directly with the manager or provider in the first instance. For complaints in writing the nursery provider must respond within 28 days. Where the childcare provision is run by a school, the school's complaints procedure should be used. Further information about complaints is given in Chapter 11, Resolving disagreements, in the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice.