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Early Years and Childcare (Local Offer)

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Early Years and Childcare

Early years education provides children with an ideal opportunity to build on the knowledge they bring from home. It helps children become more independent and to make friends.

In these early years settings, children can choose from a wide range of activities suitable for their age and ability. They have stories to listen to, books to look at and songs to sing. Play and other creative activities help develop their imagination. Indoor and outdoor play help to develop their physical skills.

Children learn in an environment where they feel happy, secure and valued.

Early Help, Early Years and Early Support

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You may have come across the three terms Early Help, Early Years and Early Support.  So what do they mean?  What is the difference?.  Below we have tried to describe each term.

Early Help

The term Early Help is used to describe the process of taking action early and as soon as possible to tackle problems and issues emerging for children, young people and their families. Effective help may be needed for at any point in a child or young person’s life.

Early Years

Early years refers to children from birth to the age of five. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

Early Support

Early Support in Peterborough is a pathway for children in their pre-school years with complex health, education, or care needs.  These children will require considerable ongoing support from across education, health and care. This includes:

  • children who have great difficulty with communication
  • children who have sensory or physical difficulties
  • children who have complex health needs

Early Years

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.

Early Years SEN Specialist and Portage Service

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The Early Years SEN Specialist and Portage Service provides:

  • Portage home visiting
  • Training for parents, settings and other services supporting children with complex needs in their Early Years.
  • SEN specialist work to support those children 0-5 years, with complex needs that are not attending a pre-school settings.  Also, support around transition into pre-school settings for children with complex needs and their families.

The Early Years SEN Specialist and Portage Service Home Visitors are employed by Peterborough City Council to support children and families within their local community


The key purpose of the Early Years SEN Specialist and Portage Service is to provide a framework of support to families with pre-school children with additional needs/disabilities.  The Early Years SEN Specialist and Portage Service includes:

  • 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

Specialist Support

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Early Identification Officer

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

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 in Peterborough is a pathway for children in their pre-school years with complex health, education, or care needs, who require ongoing support from across education, health and care. This includes children who have difficulty communicating, have sensory or physical difficulties and/or complex health needs; all of whom will require additional support with many aspects of daily life, and it is probable, that there will be a long term impact on their development and/or 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

A leaflet is available explaining the Early Support Pathway and you can also view a copy of 'All About Me' which is a document to help everyone work together to support you and your child.

Help with paying for childcare

We aim to ensure that there is adequate childcare for all parents who require it. To receive support with childcare costs you may be able to access your child's two year old funding or three and four year old funding.

Extended entitlement to 30 hours funding

From September 2017, three and four-year-olds of working parents in England will be entitled to an additional 15 hours free childcare, equalling 30 hours free per week over 38 weeks of the year (term-time) or approximately 22 hours per week each week of the year. 

To find out more information and whether you qualify visit the the 30 hours free childcare for working families page.

The Two Year Integrated Review in Peterborough

The Healthy Child Programme provides a national universal public health programme for all children and families in the UK, which requires health visitors to carry out a health review for children between age 2 and 2.5 years.

Similarly, the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework requires that early years settings review a child's learning and development through a progress check at two years old.

In Peterborough, we integrate the assessments.  There are two ways in which this happens. Either:

  • by sharing information from each assessment between parents, health visitors and the early years setting

or

  • for those children where more support is needed, a joint meeting will take place to share the information and decide the next steps for appropriate support. 

In this instance, the Integrated Review is completed jointly based on information provided by the child’s parents, the health visitor and the educational setting. 

The joint meeting or Integrated Review, provides an opportunity to discuss the child’s development and family life, how they communicate, eat, sleep, grow, play, as well as their personal social and emotional behaviour. The review meeting is usually arranged by the early years setting at a time to suit the parents and when the child can be present too.

The Integrated Review gives a full picture of the child's development and needs, and what should be done to support the child’s development and learning at the earliest opportunity. 

Disability Access Fund and the Inclusion Fund

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.

Providers can find out more information about the Disability Access Fund and the SEN Inclusion Fund on the Information for SEND Professionals page.

Making sure your child is ready for school

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START is an easy guide to help your child to be ready for school, ready to learn and ready to succeed. By helping your child to be prepared for school, it will build their confidence so that they start school confident, curious and ready to learn. Using positive encouragement can enable your child to feel good about themselves.  You can find out more information on the School Readiness page.

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