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The early years (0 to 5 years)

Most babies and young children make progress and learn new skills as expected, but some need extra help.

If the hospital thinks your baby could have development needs in the future, they may refer you to local services in Enfield. You can ask your health visitor to check if these referrals have been made.

You may not be aware your child has development problems until they start to grow. This may be concerns about them not sitting up, walking or talking at the expected age.

If you’re worried about your child’s development, you should speak to your health visitor. To find your health visitor, contact your GP or visit Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS. You can also speak to your GP, a children’s centre outreach worker or the special needs coordinator (SENCo) at your child’s nursery, school or playgroup.

Often just getting advice and reassurance from a professional can help with your concerns. All professionals will want to work with you. You are the expert on your child and they will want to hear your views and share their expertise to secure the best possible outcomes for your child.

Children with longer-term special educational needs or disabilities may need more specialist help. You can ask for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment which could lead to your child getting an EHC plan. Your school or setting can request this, or you can request it yourself. If we decide to carry out an assessment, we will work closely with you, your child and the professionals involved. For more information, see the code of practice (PDF).

If your child needs an assessment, they may be referred to the child development team. This includes services such as:

  • paediatrics
  • physiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • psychology
  • dietetics
  • community nursing

Learning and development

If your child has significant learning and development needs, they may be referred to:

  • the early intervention support service which includes:
    • Pre-school specialist teachers and early years professionals. They can assess and monitor your child’s development and teach you to help your child make progress through play. You may be offered home visits or a place at one of their specialist stay and play groups. They can also advise you on education choices and support for your child
    • Early support key workers. They provide support to families with a baby or young child with more complex needs. They can ensure referrals have been made and offer advice on benefits
  • the Educational Psychology Service - an early years educational psychologist can assess your child’s learning and development and advise on your child’s education
  • multi-sensory impairment services - if your child has a hearing or vision impairment, they may be referred to specialist teachers who have training in these areas
  • speech and language services - if your child has speech, language or communication difficulties, and are under reception age, they may be referred to a speech therapist

Speech and language therapy drop-in sessions are run regularly in clinics and children’s centres in Enfield. You don’t need a referral or appointment to see a speech therapist for an initial assessment. You can just go to a drop-in session to see a therapist. If they feel your child needs extra help with language development, they will offer you help and advice. This usually means attending group sessions with a speech therapist. They might also suggest referrals to other specialist services for assessments. This will not be done without your permission. If your child is in school, you can speak to the special needs coordinator (SENCo) about how to access speech therapy.

Family support

Children's centres offer opportunities for children under five and their parents to learn, develop and have fun. They provide free courses, workshops and drop-in sessions, which offer advice and support on family services.

Our children's centres are:

  • DeBohun Hub
  • Hazelbury Hub 

If you need more specialist support, you could be referred to:

Emotional support

You can get advice on emotional support from your GP or health visitor. You can also self-refer to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) for counselling.

Speaking with other parents who have children with similar needs may be helpful and supportive. View a list of local organisations or visit Contact.

Down Syndrome

If your child has Down Syndrome there is a weekly group called Down Town at Cheviots Specialist Children’s Centre, during term time.


If your child has autism, you may be able to access:

  • MAPS (Making a Positive Start) parent training course
  • Early-Bird parent training
  • Parent Support Advisers who can advise on particular challenges you may be having with your child, for example, with eating, sleeping or toilet training

For more information, visit our autism in Enfield page.

There are different options available if you're looking for childcare or early education for your child with SEND. You have the same choices and opportunities for your child as other parents, including:

  • childminders
  • day care
  • playgroups
  • pre-school
  • nursery (school or private)

We sometimes refer to these as 'early years settings' and the people who run them as 'early years providers'. Visit the Family Information Directory to search for your childcare options.


There are lots of choices for early education and each will offer something different, so you can choose what best suits your child and family situation. You can find available child minders in your area and vacancies in local nurseries, playgroups and pre-schools, by contacting Early Education and Childcare. They can also tell you about funding available for early education and help you to apply.

Funding includes:

  • Terrific Twos - 15 hours early education for some two year olds who meet the criteria
  • free entitlement - 15 hours early education and childcare for all three and four year olds
  • 30 hours funding - 30 hours free childcare for some three and four year olds who meet the criteria
  • Disability Access Fund - an annual payment of £615. This can only be issued if you are receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child and they are claiming their funded early education entitlement. Four year olds in reception classes are not eligible. If you’re receiving DLA for your child, give a copy of your award letter to your setting and they will be able to claim the funding
  • Early Years Inclusion Fund - childminders, early years providers and school nurseries can apply for additional funding to support your child’s individual needs. This funding is only available to three and four year olds who have a funded place, and do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

Inclusion and achievement

All childminders and providers follow the early years foundation stage curriculum. It covers the learning and development of all children up to five years old, and promotes inclusion and achievement. Your child’s progress will be tracked and staff will work with you to plan individual targets and learn more about your child.

All providers of early education or childcare must promote equal opportunities for children with SEND so that they make the best possible progress. They must not discriminate and must make reasonable adjustments to include children with SEND. For more information, view the SEND code of practice (PDF).

Help for my child in an educational setting

Your child should have access to quality teaching, stimulating play experiences and interaction with other children. Staff follow an 'Assess-Plan-Do-Review'. This means they think about how to best teach your child new skills, plan their teaching activities in advance and monitor your child’s progress.

Your child may also benefit from:

  • SENCO - a special educational needs coordinator who can monitor and review your child’s progress during their time at the setting and liaise with other professionals involved. All Enfield settings can ask for advice from the Area SENCO, a senior specialist teacher with skills and knowledge in a wide range of different special educational needs  
  • an educational psychologist - referrals can be made to an educational psychologist with your permission
  • other professionals - settings can ask other professionals who already know your child to share knowledge and offer specialist advice. They can also make referrals to other services with your permission

Choosing a school for your child can feel like a big decision. You can research schools online or by talking to friends, viewing OFSTED reports and talking to professionals who know your child.

Your options could include:

The needs of your child may be met in a mainstream school. You can find out about schools and how to apply for a school place, by visiting school admissions.

Most schools have open days, talks or tours during the autumn term where you can visit the school before applying. You can see the facilities, meet the staff and ask any questions. Every school must have a SEND information report on their website which details how they support children with SEND. We advise you to read this before you visit.

You can also contact the school directly and ask to meet with the SENCO. It is important the school knows about your child’s needs in advance so they can make your child’s settling in period as smooth and as positive as possible.

Further advice

Every Parent and Child is a charity in Enfield that provides the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS). They offer independent advice and guidance on a range of school based inclusion issues.

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