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Early years and childcare

There are a wide range of early years services and childcare providers across Sunderland that children and young people with additional needs can access. You can either "View all services" or use the Category buttons to narrow your search.

Together for Children and Sunderland City Council cannot recommend or endorse any providers or services listed.  Read our full disclaimer here.

We have provided some information below which you may find useful:


Sunderland SEN Information Pack - Early Years & Education

Together for Children Sunderland have designed a booklet to assist parents/carers of disabled children and young people.  The booklet contains general information, advice and guidance around all aspects of support available to children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities and their families.

The booklet is split into categories that mainly follow the categories within the Local Offer.  A copy of the Early Years & Education section is attached.

A copy of the whole booklet can be found on the SEN Information Pack Advice and Guidance page,  where you can download a copy if required.  

Person Centred Support for SEN in the Early Years

Together for Children has developed a practical tool for SENCO's and all those who teach and support children in Early Years settings in Sunderland. We hope it will be useful for parents and carers too. 

The aim is to help make sure that children and their parents/carers are put at the heart of a graduated approach to SEN support in Sunderland.

The SEND Code of Practice explains the graduated approach in four stages:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review 

The toolkit looks at each stage providing practical tips on how to gather person centred information and develop plans; how to include the child and their parents in effective meetings; and links to other useful tools and resources. 

Whilst the guide is for SENCo's, there is a real advantage for settings in looking at this approach for all children.

The toolkit is a practical resource that provides information about how person centred approaches can be used within a graduated approach to deliver SEN support. 

If you view the toolkit on a computer there are links that you can click to direct you to additional information and services.

Use the link on this page to download a copy of the guide. 

What is a "One Page Profile"?

A One Page Profile captures all the important information about a person on a single sheet of paper under three simple headings:

  • what people appreciate about me
  • what is important to me
  • how best to support me

How can they help us to support people better?

One Page Profiles are deceptively simple, and in this simplicity lies their strength.  They help us to support people better by:

  • Helping us build better relationships by tgruly understanding what really matters to the person in their life and the way they are supported to live it
  • Providing a record that can move with the person as they transition from service to service or use multiple services
  • Being regularly updated to reflect people's changing circumstances and aspirations
  • When staff have One Page Profiles, the people being supported feel like they get to know the person, rather than just the job title
  • When used at work, they can contribute to more person-centred teams, where individual strengths are recognised and different ways of working are taken into account

Case Study and Example

A case study which has been written by a Sunderland Nursery is available to download.  It describes their experience of developing a one page profile with one of the children they support.  You can also download a copy of the one page profile the Nursery produced which can be used as an example.


SEND Pathway for children in the Early Years

Early identification is the key to supporting a child’s needs and in Sunderland the overarching expectation is that Early Help will be in place prior to any Education, Health and Care needs assessment being made, so that the family feels supported by a team and the SEND process of ‘assess, plan, do, review’ evolves from this.

A diagram of the Early Years SEND Pathway has been drawn up by a multi-agency group and includes comments from Sunderland Parent Carer Forum.  Download a copy of the "SEND Pathway for children in the early years".

You may also find it useful to see the Person Centred SEN Support in the Early Years information.  

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

If you have a child or young person with SEN (they have a learning difficulty or disability) they may sometimes require a level of support that is more intensive than the resources usually available in their school.  In such a case, you or your child's school could consider asking the Local Authority to undertake an Education, Health and Care needs assessment which could lead to your child receiving an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).

What is an Education, Health and Care Plan?
An EHCP brings together your child's education, health and social care needs into a single plan which is a legal document. Your child must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan. 

An Education, Health and Care Plan will describe the needs of the child or young person, the services required to meet those needs and the suitable educational placement.  It will be developed in partnership with you and your child or young person and will be carried out within 20 weeks of the needs assessment.

How do I apply for an EHC Plan?
A parent or young person would need to submit a written request to the Local Authority asking for a formal assessment to be carried out.  The written request will need to contain information about which agencies are currently involved in working with the child or young person.   

Who decides whether a child needs an EHC Plan?
The Local Authority will make the decision as to whether a child or young person needs an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’.  The process leading to this decision will however be shorter (maximum 20 weeks) and more child/young person and family-focussed.   

Requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment

In most cases the request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment will come from a school or education setting.  However, requests do not have to come from a school or education setting and can be made by:

  1. The child's parents (or somebody on their behalf)
  2. The young person if over the age of 16 (or somebody on their behalf)
  3. A person acting on behalf of an early years setting, school or post 16 institution (this should be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible.

In addition, anyone can inform the local authority about a child or young person who has (or may have) SEND. This could include, for example, foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff or a family friend. Again, this should be done with the knowledge and agreement of parents or the young person where possible.

For more information see the Advice and Guidance page - "Requesting an Education, Health and Care Assessment".

What if the LA decides that an EHC plan is not necessary?

If, following assessment, the local authority decides that an EHC plan is not necessary, it must inform the parents or young person, the early years provider, school or post 16 institution currently attended and the health service, and give the reasons for its decision.  This must take place within 16 weeks of the initial request or of the child or young person having been brought to the authority's attention. The local authority must also tell the parents or young person that they have the right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal against the decision and set out the time limits for appeal, and the availability of parent partnership and disagreement resolution services.

If you would like to find out more information regarding the whole process you can find the Code of Practice at

What if I disagree with the local authority about EHC plans?

Disagreement Resolution - most disagreements can be resolved by talking with the early years setting, school or local authority.  If you need more help with this you can contact Sunderland SEND IASS Sunderland Carers Centre 0191 549 3768.

Mediation - is a voluntary process for parents and young people, which can be used if agreement cannot be reached about matters related to EHC plans.

SEND Tribunal - is an independent First-Tier Tribunal who hears parents' or young peoples' appeals against decisions of the local authority in relation to special educational needs.

For more information on all of the above see Disagreement Resolution, Mediation and Tribunal services.

What about children who do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Under the old legislation, children and young people at school who did not have a Statement of SEN may have been supported under arrangements known as ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’.  These terms reflect differing levels of need and support provided but they are not included in the new legislation 

However, there is still provision for children without EHC plans.  This will be set out in the Code of Practice which will support the new SEN arrangements.  The Code of Practice, which was published in July 2014, calls this ‘SEN support’ and gives an idea about what this might look like.  It indicates this should be a graduated approach which takes form of a four-part cycle Assess, Plan, Do, Review.

Disability Access Fund

The government has introduced a new funding measure for early years providers, the Disability Access Fund (DAF), to support children with disabilities.

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) will help providers to make reasonable adjustments in their settings, either to support the individual child, or for the benefit of all children attending the setting.

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) Advice and Guidance page give more information. 

SEND Strategy 0-25 Consultation

Together for Children Draft SEND Strategy 2019-2022 "Working together for children, young people and families" outlines the vision and key objectives for supporting Sunderland's children and young people with SEND and their families.

Click here for more information about the draft Strategy and the consultation process.

A copy of the draft Strategy is attached and can be downloaded here.

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