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Professional Resources

Extra help for pre-school children

If you have followed the graduated approach and you still feel a child needs extra help with their development, the Early Years Panel will look at your application and decide which service is best placed to meet your needs. This page goes through the graduate approach, the referral process to the Early Years Panel and the possible outcomes.

Graduated Approach to SEND in the Early Years

  • Caseload children
  • Area SENCO
  • SEND drop-ins
  • Duty Desk/advice line
  • Self-serve website, including the Graduated Response document

Self-serve website (including Graduated Response document)

The Graduated Response booklet is a document for you to refer to within settings. It is broken down into the areas of need, with each area of need describing quality first teaching as well as graduated support and strategies for the children with whom you have concerns around. 

We are also developing the resources and support we are offering on the webpages, that we can direct providers to.

SEND Graduated Approach Booklet  Opens new window

Duty Desk/advice line

The Duty Desk is now available daily 9am-12pm (0116 305 7136). The phone will be answered by the admin team, or an Area SENCO. They can support with unnamed SEND advice. 

SEND drop-ins

These sessions give providers the chance to discuss children who may be presenting with some difficulties within the setting. It is on an unnamed basis, but with a range of professionals involved. Please see our Eventbrite page for more information, including dates of upcoming drop-ins.


Each Early Years setting will have a named Area SENCO and have 4 visits throughout the year. When the Area SENCO comes in to the setting, they are there to offer unnamed advice and support. 


For the majority of children that come to panel, we would be expecting to see evidence of the above to ensure the children that get agreed to be taken on at panel, are children needing specialist advice/teachers. The exception for not needing this evidence being very young children, children not in a setting, or children with a clear high level of specialist need.

If a child doesn't meet threshold, or there isn’t enough evidence of the graduated approach being followed, then the child may not be allocated an advisor/practitioner from panel. With this outcome, we give providers a reason as to why no allocation has been made and contact details for if they wish to discuss it further.

Children could be allocated a specialist advisor straight from panel if need is apparent and specialist support is required. Alternatively, allocation could occur following a practitioner conducting a small piece of work with a child, to determine the level of future support needed. 

Specialist advisors support predominantly at the Early Years provider, but may also conduct some home teaching, if the child is not in the setting for more than 3 sessions a week. The exception to this would be portage, who predominately home teach and the Inclusion Practitioner who solely support in the setting/school minus an initial home visit. 

The panel meets weekly during the academic year to discuss referrals received. The outcomes, as mentioned above and included in correspondence with the referrer, may include:

  • Allocation of an advisor/practitioner to support the child in the setting and/or the home
  • No allocation - lack of evidence of the provider following the graduated approach
  • No allocation - refer/follow advice from other services, such as speech and language
  • Referral to other services, such as the Educational Psychology

The child can be referred by their:

  • public health nurse (health visitor)
  • parents
  • providers
  • paediatrician
  • other professionals working with the child

Early Years Panel referral form - July 2020  Opens new window

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