Decision Report :

Decision Maker:

Executive Lead Member for Children's Services (Education)

Date of Decision:

16 October 2008

Decision Title:

Nursery provision for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Decision Reference:


Report From:

John Coughlan, Director of Children's Services

Contact name:

Sue Dorney-Smith, Education Officer (SEN)


01964 846418




1) Summary of Decision Area:

2) Issues Covered in Report:

3) Recommendations:


1) Purpose of the Report:

2) Contextual Information:

3) Key Issues:

4) Proposed provision:

5) Every Child Matters Agenda

6) Consultation

7) Financial Implications

7.1. Funding has already been agreed by Schools Forum to develop dedicated `SEN places' in three non-maintained pre-schools based in new `Early Years SEN hub centres' and to improve the provision at Aviary Children's Centre so that it is in line with the proposed model.

7.2. It is anticipated that new provision will be within existing accommodation and there are no planned capital implications for the County Council. However this aspect will only be clear when applications to develop the new provision are received and considered. Any difficulties in this respect would need to be explored at the time and if necessary be the subject of a separate report.

7.3. Parents are encouraged wherever possible to transport their child to the Centre. However where this is not possible transport would be considered in line with Hampshire Council transport policy. This may add pressure on the transport budget.

8) Personnel Issues

8.1. The agreed funding will allow non-maintained providers to appoint additional members of staff but these will not be employed by the County Council.

8.2. The Aviary nursery is an exception (as it was formed from a former Hampshire nursery). Whilst the nursery is not managed by a school, and effectively operates as non-maintained provision, the staff are employed by Hampshire County Council. As the Aviary budget has been increased, the centre will employ additional staff in line with the guidance in the agreed model.

9) Impact assessment

9.1. Providing more specialist nursery places will mean that more children with SEN can benefit from high quality early education. Parental satisfaction will be increased.

9.2. Race and equality impact assessment has been considered in respect of the proposed developments and no adverse impact has been identified.

10) Crime Prevention Issues

10.1. Making appropriate provision for young children with SEN is likely, in the longer term, to improve children's life chances and to have a positive impact for them, their families and the local community.

11) Views of the Local County Councillor

11.1. The view of local County Councillors will be sought during discussions about developing provision in their area.

12) Outline of Options:

13) Option Analysis / Comparison:

14) Conclusions:

15) Summary Recommendations:





Hampshire safer and more secure for all


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Maximising well-being


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Enhancing our quality of place


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Links to Previous member decisions:





Direct Links to Specific Legislation or Government Directives




Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background documents


    The following documents discuss facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and have been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report. (NB: the list excludes published works and any documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.)






Appendix A

Hampshire County Council

November 2007

Strategic proposals for Special Educational Needs (SEN) pre-school nursery provision in Hampshire

Contacts: Janet Hoff , (Deputy Head of Unit, Vulnerable Children, Children's Services); Sue Dorney-Smith (Education Officer, SEN, Children's Services)

1 Background

1.1 Within Hampshire currently, we have six specialist provisions offering nursery education to children with a range of SEN. They are:

1.2 In addition, a number of Hampshire special schools admit children with relatively complex needs from two years of age. (See Appendix 2). However these schools do not provide for children with a wide range of needs, only admitting children with the needs for which they are designated, usually children with severe learning difficulties (SLD). There are also six nursery classes attached to mainstream primary schools which cater for children with specific special educational needs. This includes three Early Learning Groups (ELGs) based in The New Forest catering for children with speech and language difficulties. (These provisions are also listed in Appendix 2).

1.3 Children are placed in all of these specialist provisions by the SEN Service, often following discussion at a local multi-agency pre-school advisory group.

1.4 Children with SEN attending mainstream nursery provision receive additional support in a range of ways. The Area InCo Service provides consultation, support and advice to SENCOs in these settings at the Early Years Action stage of the SEN Code of Practice to enable them to include children with SEN. Additionally, a number of outreach providers from specialist provision, including the Portage Service, are funded to provide outreach support at Early Years Action Plus where more specific advice is required in relation to an individual child.

1.5 For those who meet the criteria, additional SEN funding is available through the SEN Service for up to five sessions per week and is paid in addition to the normal nursery education grant, (funded from Dedicated Schools Grant). The level of additional funding is currently £8.50 per session (07/08 financial year) with enhanced and double funding also available for children with the most complex needs. Funding is also available for specialist equipment for disabled children. This is managed by the Early Education and Childcare Unit (EECU) and is provided through the General Sure Start Grant.

2 Gaps in centre and outreach provision

2.1 Currently early years SEN nursery provision across the county is inconsistent and the Children's Centre programme offers an opportunity to address this.

2.2 It is proposed that through the Children's Centre programme, over time, a `hub' centre of early years SEN provision is established in each of the 11 district council areas in Hampshire. Each `hub' centre would provide "generic" specialist nursery education which would be both affordable and of high quality. As explained earlier, only six of the 11 districts in Hampshire already have this type of provision which leaves five districts requiring a `hub centre'.

2.3 Some of the six early years SEN nursery provisions have extended their services to support children from outside of their district. Therefore when developing new `hub centres' priority would be given to those areas that are unable to access any specialist provision. The top priority areas have been identified as New Forest, Basingstoke and Havant. (In practice given the geography of The New Forest area particular consideration will need to be given to how this centre can best outreach across the area.)

3 The models of provision.

3.1 It is anticipated that children will continue to be supported in mainstream provision wherever appropriate but that in addition there should be two basic models of specialist provision, ie `hubs'. This enables parents and carers to make a choice between very local mainstream provision or provision that is more specialist (though often inclusive) but not necessarily in their local community.

3.2 Model 1: Inclusion in mainstream private, voluntary and independent pre school provision.

3.3 Model 2: Maintained settings

3.4 Model 3 : Children's Centre with third party inclusive nursery provision

4. Model of provision for new specialist "hubs" (ie for new Model 3 centres)

4.1 It is proposed that each of the new `hub centres' be based in a developing Children's Centre and provide SEN nursery provision for 10 full time equivalent (fte) children (ie 20 children) each attending for 5 sessions per week. In anticipation of the government requirement for 2010 each provision would offer sessions of 3 hours. Each nursery would be inclusive with the new SEN places being incorporated into an existing mainstream pre-school. Further details are provided in Appendix 1.

5. Funding implications

5.1 Funding for Models 1 and 2 (i.e. for mainstream pre-schools and maintained specialist nursery provision) would not be changed under this proposal. However, funding would be needed to bring the provision at Aviary up to the specification outlined in Appendix 1 and, over time, for the development of specialist third party provision within the five remaining districts based on the specification for Model 3.

5.2 To provide equality of opportunity, the funding level at Aviary and any new specialist provision opened across the county should be equivalent to funding in current maintained SEN nursery provision. The total cost for 10 fte places of provision totalling 15 hours/week, including a small additional allocation to cover premises costs, is c£126,000. A breakdown of how this funding might be used is included as Appendix 2.

5.3 It is anticipated that most children placed in the provision will qualify for nursery education grant which equates to £1575 per child (or £3150 per fte child). Assuming 14 of the 20 children are old enough to receive nursery grant funding the anticipated additional funding needed for each `hub' nursery is:

6. Other implications

6.1 Agreement would need to be reached with third party providers in identified Children's Centres in the target areas, to manage the proposed provision.

6.2 Discussions would also be needed with local health providers to ensure appropriate therapy support for the children.

6.3 In developing a `hub centre' in each district, full consideration would need to be given to the implications for settings where some of the children are currently placed in order to minimise any impact. Consultation will take place with mainstream providers but it is anticipated that the impact will be minimal in most cases.

6.4 There may however be implications for special schools with nursery classes in the targeted geographical areas, for example the Limington House and Saxon Wood Special School nursery classes in Basingstoke and similar classes at Salterns Special School in The New Forest and Riverside and St Francis Schools in the south east of the county. However, parents of children who are anticipating a special school for their child from Year R onwards are likely to continue to choose a place in the special school nursery.

6.5 The position of the three Early Learning Groups in The New Forest will need to be considered during planning for a new `hub centre' in The New Forest.

Model for specialist nursery provision (Model 3)

Illustrative breakdown of annual expenditure for each hub with 10fte for provision totalling 12.5 hours/week

Cost of 1 fte teacher (or other early years specialist with equivalent experience/qualification)


Cost of 1 fte higher level nursery assistant


Cost of 2 fte learning support assistants


Resources (inc. equipment and administrative costs)


Premises costs





For provision totalling 15 hours/week

£105,000 x 15 ie c£126,000



Quality assurance

The providers will be expected to recruit staff with an appropriate level of training and expertise, to accept support and advice from Hampshire professionals, for example educational psychologists and specialist teacher advisers and to allow access to Hampshire's SEN inspector team.

List of Hampshire schools offering SEN provision for pre-school children

Special schools


Oldbury Way


PO14 3BN

(MLD and PD)

Henry Tyndale

Ship Lane


GU14 8BX

(MLD and SLD)



Mill Chase Road


GU35 0HA

(MLD and SLD)


River Way


SP11 6LT



Limington House

St Andrews Road


RG22 6PS


Rachel Madocks

Eagle Avenue







Scratchface Lane






Commercial Road



SO40 3AF



Saxon Wood


Barron Place


RG24 9NH


St Francis

Patchway Drive

Oldbury Way


PO14 3BN



Mainstream schools


Ashley Infant

Lower Ashley Road


New Milton

BH25 5AA


New Milton Infant

Lymington Road

New Milton

BH25 6PZ



Park View Infant

Pinkerton Road


RG22 6RT


Ringwood CE Infant

School Lane


BH24 1LG



South View Infant

Off Shooters Way


RG21 5LL


Wildground Infant

Crete Road

Dibden Purlieu


SO45 4JX



HI - hearing impairment

MLD - moderate learning difficulties

PD - physical difficulties

SLCN - speech, language and communication needs

SLD - severe learning difficulties

Appendix B

Specialist SEN nursery provision - Model admissions criteria and procedures

`Somewhere' Children's Centre

`Somewhere' Children's Centre provides inclusive nursery education for x children, y of whom have been allocated places because of their special educational needs (SEN).

The SEN places are funded by the local authority and children are allocated to them by the Children's Services Department SEN Service. In practice the majority of places are likely to be offered in the September following the child's third birthday (ie at the beginning of Year R-1) but, where places are available, children can be admitted any time in the preceding year (Year R-2). Places are generally available until the end of the academic year following the child's fourth birthday when children normally transfer to Year R in school. The SEN places are not limited to the children who live in the Centre's local catchment area and children normally come from across the locality team area.

The SEN places are available as five 3-hour sessions per week and are normally available either in the mornings or afternoons. The sessions are allocated by the Head of Centre, depending on availability. Continuity is seen as particularly important for all young children with SEN and it is hoped therefore that wherever possible, children will attend one session each day from Monday-Friday. However it is recognised that, in principle, parents should have the same choice available to all parents and parents wishing to opt for their five funded nursery sessions over three days per week rather than five may request this arrangement. Whether this is possible depends on places being available on the days requested.

Shared (split or joint) placements, (ie some of the five sessions at the centre and some funded in another setting) are not available.

Referrals procedure

Pre-school children with special educational needs are referred to the local pre-school advisory group. This is a multi-agency group involving a variety of local professionals which meets on a regular basis. It is attended by a member of the SEN Service and a representative of `Somewhere' Children's Centre. The children's needs are considered by the group and recommendations are made including, where appropriate, a recommendation for placement at the centre. Where such a recommendation is made, the SEN Service will send relevant paperwork to the Centre for comments. A decision will then be made by the SEN Service in the light of all of the available information, having regard to parental views and comments from nursery staff.

Admission criteria:

The SEN Service will consider the following when making a decision regarding placement:

· the child has been referred by a relevant professional because of a significant special educational need in one or more areas, for example hearing impairment (HI), speech language and communication needs (SLCN), social communication difficulties, physical disabilities (PD), visual impairment (VI), and/or general learning difficulties and placement at the Centre is felt to be appropriate to alleviate problems prior to starting school

· the child has behavioural, emotional and/or social difficulties (BESD) which substantially and regularly interfere with the child's own learning or that of a group

· the child has been identified by an educational psychologist as having difficulties and or developmental delays and is working (or likely to be working) at an early years curriculum substantially below that expected of children of a similar age and would benefit from a period of assessment and skilled intervention prior to entry to school that may not be readily available in a local pre-school, which may include support from specialist staff from other agencies

· the child is making little progress in specified areas

· the level of the child's need is recognised as being at the Early Years Action Plus level of the SEN Code of Practice or beyond

· the child has been identified as needing statutory assessment prior to entry to school and it is felt that placement at the Centre would be the most effective environment in which to carry out this assessment

· it is clear that the child will benefit from an inclusive placement and his or her needs can be met in the context of the nursery.

Where there are more children than places available, priority will be given to children who are in the academic year prior to Year R and to children whose needs cannot easily be met in any other local pre-school environment.

Admission Procedure

· Following receipt of a decision from the SEN Service, before being offered a starting date parents are contacted by the Head of Centre and invited to visit the centre.

· Once a start date has been confirmed, a meeting is arranged with parents in the term prior to the child starting at the centre. Parents are then offered a follow-up visit with their child and home visits are also arranged for every family.

· Children are normally introduced into the nursery gradually at the beginning of a term as we believe a gradual introduction helps children to settle happily and ensures staff have time to support children as they start in the nursery. Children may start to attend for two to three sessions a week but it is expected that all children will phase up to attending for five sessions as soon as possible.


Parents are encouraged wherever possible to transport their child to the Centre. However where this is not possible transport will be considered in line with Hampshire Council transport policy.

Transfer to school

Year R children attending Hampshire schools are funded for full time attendance. The SEN nursery places are not intended for use by Year R children and children normally transfer to a mainstream school local to their home address for Year R or to alternative special provision. Occasionally where vacancies exist and parents and the relevant professionals agree this is appropriate, Year R children may be able to phase out of the nursery during the autumn term and phase into their receiving school