We provide advice, guidance and support to families and early years settings.

Our support helps them to meet the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from birth to 5 years.

Meet the team

We have over 25 years experience between us. This includes qualified and specialist teachers and special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCO's).

  • Angela Hera is our Early Years SEND and Advisory Services Manager

Our Early Years Advisors are:

  • Helen Smith - Vicary
  • Tracy Bakonyvari

Our Early Years SEND Support Workers are:

  • Rachel Cooper
  • Sarah Fuller
  • Katie Reeve
  • Debbie Taylor

Our service

Our service provides:

  • specific support, on a case-by-case basis, to meet the needs of the child, family and early years setting.

Working with early years settings, school staff, parents/carers and other professionals we:

  • ensure early identification and appropriate intervention to best support children's needs
  • remove barriers to learning
  • ensure successful transition into early years settings and then into school
  • monitor the support and outcomes for children with SEND and make sure that resources are used effectively
  • develop high quality SEND provision within early years settings
  • respond to referrals from health professionals and early years settings
  • provide training, advice and support for parents and early years settings

Our support

Our Advisors respond to all referrals and assess the level of support required to meet the needs of each individual child.

If a package of support is needed they will work with the setting and parents to put this in place. This will be delivered by an Early Years SEND Support Worker.

This package may include:

  • a block of support sessions


  • Inclusion Funding depending on need.

The type of support offered to parents and settings can be delivered in many forms, including:

  • observations within the setting or the home. This allows assessment reports and advice to setting/parents to be provided
  • blocks of support in the home or setting (frequency agreed with parent and/or setting) as a result of the visit
  • working alongside the nursery staff where support in the setting is required
  • participation at regular Team around the Child reviews to facilitate discussion around a child's progress and needs
  • providing transition support from home to setting and setting to school. This can include attendance at transition meetings, and a block of transition support from a Support Worker in the setting if required
  • supporting settings to write, implement and review Individual Support Plans (ISPs)
  • providing bespoke training for settings to meet the individual needs of the child. We also recommend other external training
  • advising settings and families on how to make referrals to other services. This may include:
  1. speech and language therapy
  2. occupational health/physiotherapy
  3. Early Help
  4. Children with Disabilities Team, and others
  • explaining to settings the funding that is available to children and how to apply for these. This includes the Disability Access Fund (DAF), and Inclusion Funding
  • providing guidance and support to settings and parents with the Education Health and Care Needs Assessment process. This may include support with completing paperwork, explaining the process and, attending co-production meetings
  • providing guidance and training for settings on how to conduct annual reviews of Education Health and Care Plans
  • supported visits for parents to view settings where appropriate

All blocks of support are regularly reviewed. Further blocks of support can be considered if required.

Referrals to our service

These are made via:

  • a request for support from the setting

or a

  • Section 23 notification from the health service.

A Section 23 notification is a legal requirement of the Children and Families Act 2014. It is often called a Section 23 referral. It requires health practitioners to tell the Council if they believe a child under school age has, or is likely to have, special educational needs or a disability (SEND).

This will include sharing information about the named child on a Section 23 form with parents' permission. The Council must respond to all Section 23 referrals and ensure that advice, guidance and support is offered. The Early Years SEND Support Service responds to these referrals on behalf of the Council.

We work closely with service providers to support the child and family in a holistic way. This would include schools and nurseries and health and social care.

What is a setting referral?

If an early years setting has identified that a child has additional needs they will dicuss these concerns with parents. View the I am an early years practitioner page for more information. Following this they may identify that they require further advice and recommendations from the Early Years SEND Support Service. They will complete a SEND Advisor referral form which is sent directly to the Early Years SEND Support Service for review.

The allocated Advisor will then make contact with the child's nursery setting and, if required, arrange to observe the child in setting and meet with the SENCO to give further advice.

Play and Development group for under 5's

The service offer a Play and Development Group for parent/carers and families of children with SEND aged 0 to 5 in the Southend Area.

The stay and play sessions are designed to support you and your child with a variety of play and sensory experiences. A range of different services also join the sessions to provide support and information.

Further information about the Play and Development group for under 5's.

Videos to watch with your children

The service have created a range of videos for you to watch and learn with your children.