Early years

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All early years providers are required to work in partnership with parents and other professionals. They need to ensure that every child is included and supported.  Parents should expect settings to consider the individual needs, interests and stage of development of their child. Early years providers are required to assess children’s needs and work with parents.
All registered providers have an identified Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (Senco). We provide advice, support and training to Sencos to ensure they are adequately trained to understand and meet the needs of children who may have additional requirements.

Early Years Providers have to ensure all staff are appropriately qualified and have any additional training as required. This should be available on request.

Ongoing assessment is part of the learning and development process. Practitioners in settings will regularly observe children to understand their interests and learning styles and then plan for each individual child’s needs.

When a child is aged between two and three a setting must review their progress and provide parents with a written summary of their child’s development. This must identify the child’s strengths and any areas where  progress is less than expected.

Beyond this age it is for the provider to decide what any written summary should include, but the summary must highlight areas in which a child is progressing well and where some additional support might be needed.  Where there is a concern the written summary must describe the activities and strategies the provider intends to adopt to address any issues or concerns. Practitioners must also discuss with parents how the summary of development can be used to support learning at home.

If further support is required, early years providers can undertake an Early Help Assessment and refer for support from the Early Support Pathway.

We provide a comprehensive training programme for registered early years and childcare providers to assist them in meeting the needs of children in their care. We also work closely with health colleagues to support the needs of those children who have very complex needs and potentially life limiting conditions.

You can search for childcare providers on the Families Information Service.

Portage service

You can view all the current Portage service information on the Peterborough local offer online.

Portage service is a home visiting educational service for pre-school children aged 0-3 with disabilities, additional support needs or developmental delay, and their families.

Portage Home Visitors are employed by Peterborough City Council to support children and families within their local community

The key purpose of the Portage Service is to provide a framework of support to families with pre-school children with additional needs/disabilities.

The model offers

  • regular home visiting;
  • supporting the development of play, communication, relationships, and learning for young children within the family, modelled by the home visitors and targets set;
  • supporting the child and family’s participation and inclusion in the community in their own right;
  • working together with parents within the family, with them taking the leading role in the partnership that is established;
  • helping parents to identify what is important to them and their child and plan goals for learning and participation;
  • keeping a shared record of the child’s progress and other issues raised by the family;
  • responding flexibly to the needs of the child and family when providing support;

Visit the Families Information Service website for further information about the Portage Service or if you would like to refer your pre-school aged child. 

More information can also be found at the National Portage Association.

Specialist Support

We offer advice, support and guidance to parents via an Early Identification Officer who works directly with children and parents in the family home.  

Early Identification Officer

The Early Identification Officer provides advice and support to families who have a young child with complex needs. She offers support to parents in a variety of ways including working with other partners, developmental support, assistance with form filling and support to access an appropriate early years setting of their choice. She will help identity at least three settings and visit with the child and family. She will support the parent and the setting to access and organise any specialist training that may be required to assist them in meeting the child’s needs. If parents choose not to send their child to an early years setting the Early Identification Officer will support them in the process of accessing a school place when required, supporting parents with EHCP requests where relevant.   

Early Support

Early Support provides services for families with a disabled child in their pre-school years. These children will have significant and profound learning, sensory impairment, physical impairment, social and communication difficulties, autism, and other disabilities and conditions that will impact on their life long development and learning. For example;

  • Young babies leaving hospital with medical and other support needs, where parents and carers need practical help to care for their child at home
  • Children where the need for longer term additional help to address their learning and development needs becomes clear only in the second or third year of life
  • Children who have obvious multiple and significant factors affecting development and learning and those with less obvious difficulties but nevertheless will require significant additional help to address their learning and development needs on an ongoing basis.

Working in partnership with parents or carers, the service ensures that parents or carers are at the heart of the discussion and decision making about their children, particularly when they are in contact with many different people and agencies and need help to integrate service planning and delivery.

Early Support Coordinator

The Early Support Coordinator is the single access point for all referrals where a child in their pre-school years is identified as having additional needs. They support the family and ensure a coordinated approach to all support services/interventions. They also provide information and resources together with gathering and coordinating feedback regarding services, to provide a central point of contact for the parent/carer and professionals.To contact the early support coordinator please email:

Susan Ishmael.  Susan.ishmael@peterborough.gov.uk

Extended Entitlement to 30 hours and the Disability Access Fund and the Inclusion Fund

Three and Four Year Old Funding - Eligibility for the 30-hour offer

To qualify for the full 30 hours of free childcare, each parent (or the sole parent in a single parent family) will need to earn, on average, the equivalent of 16 hours on the national minimum wage per week (currently £107 per week), and no more than £100,000 per year. Self-employed parents and parents on zero-hours contracts will be eligible if they meet the average earnings threshold.

Families where one parent is not in paid employment (or neither parent works) will usually not be eligible for these additional hours. Parents who are studying or in training will not be eligible unless this is combined with paid work which meets the minimum average earnings threshold.

Parents where one or both are in receipt of benefits in connection with sickness or parenting are treated as though they are in paid work.

Where one parent (in a couple household) is in receipt or could be entitled to be in receipt of specific benefits related to caring, incapacity for work or limited capability for work they are treated as though they are in paid work.

Eligibility will be checked by HMRC and will be based on actual income earned. There will be a short grace period so that if parents lose their jobs, they do not automatically lose their childcare entitlement. More details of how this will work have not yet been confirmed.

All three and four year olds and the most disadvantaged two year olds – will continue to remain entitled to 15 hours of early education per week during term time, regardless of the employment status of their parents.

Provision for disabled children and children with special educational needs (SEN)

Two new measures are being introduced for 2017-18 to support children with disabilities or SEN in receipt of three and four year old early years education funding:

  • the disability access fund aids access to early years places by, for example, supporting providers in making reasonable adjustments to their settings and/or helping with building capacity (be that for the child in question or for the benefit of children as a whole attending the setting);
  • the SEN inclusion fund is to help providers’ better address the needs of individual children in their setting.

Disability access fund (DAF) Eligibility

Early Years providers with three and four year olds will be eligible for the Disability Access Fund if they meet the following criteria:

• the child is in receipt of child disability living allowance and;

• the child receives free early education.

Please note that four-year olds in primary school reception classes are not eligible for DAF funding. Children become eligible for free early education at different points in the year depending on when they turn 3. Details of the dates when children become eligible are available in existing guidance.


  • The settings of three and four year olds eligible for the DAF will be entitled to receive a one-off payment of £615 per year.
  • The DAF is not based on an hourly rate and is an additional entitlement.
  • Children do not have to take up the full 570 hours of early education they are entitled to in order to receive the DAF. Children in receipt of the DAF will be eligible where they take-up any period of free entitlement.

Identifying eligible children

Early years providers are responsible for identifying eligible children. However, the local authority will encourage providers to speak to parents in order to find out who is eligible for the DAF.

Providers will be able to use the parent declaration form template. The template is for parents whose child is attending their setting and includes a box for parents to tick if their child is in receipt of disability living allowance.

Eligibility checking

Local authorities must check that the DAF eligibility requirements are met. Local authorities should be satisfied that the child in question is receiving disability living allowance. They may wish to see evidence of the child’s disability living allowance award letter. Local authorities should keep a copy of this evidence on file.

Distributing DAF funding to early years providers

Local authorities must fund all early years’ settings providing a place for each child eligible for the DAF in their area at the fixed annual rate of £615 per eligible child.

The DAF is payable as a lump sum once a year per eligible child. If a child eligible for the DAF is splitting their free entitlement across two or more providers, parents are required to nominate the main setting. This setting will be where local authorities will pay the DAF for the child.

If a child receiving DAF moves from one setting to another within a financial year, the new setting is not eligible to receive DAF funding for this child within the same financial year. DAF funding received by the original setting will not be recouped.

In cases where a child who lives in one authority area attends a provider in a different local authority, the provider’s local authority is responsible for funding the DAF for the child and eligibility checking.

All early years providers who are eligible to receive funding for the three and four year old early entitlement education are also eligible to receive the DAF.

SEN inclusion fund

Each local authority is required to establish an inclusion fund in their local funding systems for three and four year olds with SEN taking the free entitlement. The purpose of the fund is to support local authorities to work with providers to meet the needs of individual children with SEN. In Peterborough we already allocate some funding for settings which supports them in better meeting the needs of children in their setting with SEND.


The SEN inclusion fund is for three and four year olds who are taking up any number of hours of free entitlement. (2-year-olds are not eligible to receive this funding).

Allocating SEN inclusion funding to early years providers

Allocation of the SEN inclusion funding will be via the Early Support Pathway Process, as it is currently. Settings are able to request hours they are requiring up to the amount of early education funded hours the child is attending. They are however required to provide termly a review of how the funding has been used to support the child, alongside a termly claim for the additional funding.

Eligible providers

All early years providers who are eligible to receive funding for the three and four year old early education entitlement are also eligible to receive support from the SEN inclusion fund.


Have your say

We want to make sure that Peterborough's Local Offer continues to develop to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families To let us know your views please fill in our online feedback form.