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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Early years and childcare provision

Early years provision can include nannies, childminders, pre-schools and nurseries as well as school-based early years provision. Some early years childcare providers take children from two to five years old, and others take children from birth to five.

We understand that finding the right childcare for your child is really important and it is our job to ensure that there are enough early years and childcare places for families in Devon, as far as is reasonably practicable. A Childcare Sufficiency Assessment report is written each year providing information on childcare provision within the county.

How to search for early years childcare provision

You can search Pinpoint Devon for childcare or early years provision in your area. All funded early years and childcare provision in Devon is inclusive; this means that they must:

  • make reasonable adjustments for disabled children
  • prevent discrimination and promote equality
  • support pupils with medical conditions

How do I choose the right childcare for my child?

Knowing what to look for or what to ask about when choosing childcare can be really tricky. We have put together some useful guides and information to help you in the decision-making process.

How can we help with finding childcare?

Childcare Brokerage Service

If you need help finding early years and childcare provision you can use our Childcare Brokerage Service.

This service is available to parents and carers who have searched Pinpoint Devon and are unable to find suitable childcare options or for those who are unable to negotiate the system themselves.

The team can:

  • explain the childcare system, the Early Years Entitlement and two-year-old funding
  • supply complete and up to date lists of childcarers in your area
  • suggest options you might not know about
  • provide information on paying for childcare, and tips on choosing and arranging your childcare
  • contact childcarers on your behalf to check for vacancies and arrange appointments for you to visit

You can contact the team by calling 01392 383000 and asking for Pinpoint or by emailing

What can I do if I can’t find suitable childcare?

If you can’t find the childcare that you need, let us know as we may be able to help. You can do this by completing the Unable to Find Suitable Childcare form.

Specialist early years and childcare providers

There are also specialist early years and childcare providers in the county, which provide for children with learning difficulties or complex needs. These are the maintained special schools with nursery places.

How can I access these schools for my child?

Every child admitted will need to have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Places at these schools are commissioned by the Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) 0-25 team and can only be offered by them.

Further information

For more information about the schools, please visit their websites:

  • Bidwell Brook School, Dartington – For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs
  • Ellen Tinkham School, Exeter – For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs
  • Mill Water School, Budleigh Salterton – For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs
  • Orchard Manor School, Dawlish – For pupils aged 3-19 with communication and interaction difficulties, Autistic spectrum conditions and learning needs. Pupils attend either weekly residentially (Monday – Friday) or as day pupils.
  • Pathfield School, Barnstaple – For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs

There are also two independent special schools with nursery places (these do not offer funded 2,3 and 4-year old places) in Devon. Please contact the schools for more information:

How can I check on my child’s progress?

Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage is a framework that all early years providers, including childminders, nurseries and pre-schools, follow. It sets standards and key areas of focus for your children’s development and learning up to the age of five, when they enter key stage one.

There are three prime areas of focus within the curriculum and four specific areas of learning. All of these are split into early learning goals (ELG).

Early years providers should be to making sure that they meet every child’s needs in these areas.

Progress checks

Health and Development Review

A Health and development review is carried out by your health visitor in your child’s home environment and is part of the Government’s Healthy Child Programme. It is carried out between the ages of two and two-and-a-half.

Early Years Foundation Stage progress check

Early years providers (childminders, nurseries and other settings) must carry out a progress check at age two. This will assess your child’s progress and identify strengths and any areas of concern. They will discuss your child’s progress with you and you will also get a written report.

If a setting is concerned about your child’s progress, they will request permission from you to discuss this with the health visiting team and possibly consider an integrated review.

Integrated review

An integrated review combines the Early Years Foundation Stage progress check and the Health and Development Review and allows the health visiting team and early years practitioners to work together with you to best identify your child’s needs and get a clear picture of their progress.

The Early Years and Foundation Stage Profile

The Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) Profile summarises and describes children’s achievement and progress. The EYFS profile assessment happens in the final term of the year your child turns 5, and no later than 29 June in that term. It gives:

  • The child’s levels of attainment in relation to the 17 early learning goals (ELGs) detailed in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
  • A short narrative describing the child’s three characteristics of effective learning which are playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically.

Practitioners’ assessments are mainly based on observing your child’s daily activities and events. They look for the learning which your child demonstrates spontaneously, independently and consistently in a range of contexts.