Skip to content

Devon’s SEND Local Offer

Early years – targeted support

If universal support is not enough to help your child make good progress, then more targeted support may be needed. This may include early years settings using some of the strategies, methods and activities detailed below.

Early years settings follow a graduated approach to ensure that children’s needs are met and targeted support is provided when needed.

Types of support

Children’s centres

Children’s centres cater for children up to the age of 8 and are all managed by Action for Children. They can provide support including ideas of activities to do with your child, parenting advice, meeting other parents and play sessions.

More information about children’s centres in Devon.

Nursery Plus

Nursery Plus is a Devon educational service which supports Early Years settings in receipt of Early Years Education Funding to meet the needs of children identified with additional or Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Nursery Plus promotes the inclusion of all children and the expectation that all children will achieve their potential.

More information about Nursery Plus

Communication and language

Listening and attention

  • Individual adult support for listening and attention in the early years setting, with adults clearly modelling skills for children.
  • Adults saying child’s name or gently touching them to gain attention before speaking to them.
  • Adults gaining eye contact before speaking.
  • Simple, short listening and attention games 1-1 with their Key Person, a named person with specific responsibility for a small group of children, developing into working with one other child and then in small groups.


  • Visual timetables to support the understanding of routines.
  • Sharing stories in pairs or small groups with simple questions to support understanding.
  • A pre-teaching of new vocabulary/concepts (with real objects) to prepare your child for new vocabulary or skills.
  • Extra practice/repetition of new vocabulary/concepts.
  • Individual adult support for language understanding in the continuous provision, supporting your child to understand using repetition, gesture, visual cues, etc.
  • Adults should be aware of what vocabulary your child already knows and use mainly these words.
  • Adults should plan to extend vocabulary by using new words alongside familiar ones.
  • Adults should know the average length of sentence for each child and use sentences that are no more than two words longer than those of the child.
  • Adults slow down the speed of their speech according to the needs of different children, giving more processing time for children who may need it.
  • Adults patiently wait while maintaining interest in what the child is thinking.
  • Time is planned for the Key Person (member of staff in an early years setting who has specific responsibility for a child/ group of children) to have uninterrupted attention for the child.
  • Adults say the important words or few words that the child might say if they could.
  • Adults emphasize important words by slowing down and pausing before the word.
  • Important words are repeated in a real situation e.g. ‘washing my hands’.


  • An individual speech and language programme (provided by Speech and Language Therapy).
  • Individual adult support for speaking/communicating in the continuous provision, supporting your child to communicate with others by modelling, repeating, extending, etc.
  • Adults respond to any attempt at communication, this maybe verbal or non-verbal.
  • Adults sometimes interpret/repeat back what your child has said. They may also add a word or phrase.
  • Ensuring that the child feels an equal partner within interactions with adults.
  • Making verbal choices clear by using language alongside visual clues.
  • Using more comments than questions, encouraging a natural, conversational style of interaction.
  • Using open questions that have more than one possible answer and avoiding asking ‘testing’ questions.
  • Language games 1-1 and then in small groups or pairs to support speaking skills.
  • Pre-teaching of new vocabulary/concepts (alongside real objects).

Personal, social and emotional development

Social development, interaction and play

  • Clear and detailed teaching of social skills and rules of social interaction, with modelling and use of key phrases, for example, “Can I join in?”
  • Support for social interaction, for example, negotiation skills, turn-taking (age-appropriate)
  • Encouraging recognition of child’s own emotions and those of others. Linking physical feelings to emotions.
  •  A social skills small group or emotions group.
  • Simple turn-taking games.
  • Personalised social stories to support understanding and choices. Social stories are stories that can be read to children to help them understand situations and prepare for new skills or change.

Flexibility of thought

  • Use of ‘now-then’ boards.
  • Teaching children strategies to deal with stressful events and identify a strategy if a pupil needs to be withdrawn, for example, a selection of anxiety-reducing activities or an area where the child can go to calm down.
  • Breaking activities and routines down into manageable steps with a clear start and finish.

Managing feelings and behaviour

  • Access to a safe space or place with some protection (for example, pop up tent of corner partially enclosed by furniture) to calm down when needed.
  • Individual plans (IEPs) or Behaviour Plans which reflect targets that are appropriate to your child’s development. Targets should support the child’s progress and be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed).
  • Adults should support and model how to manage feelings and behaviour in child-initiated play.
  • Thrive (or similar) individual assessments and action plans. Thrive assessments help early years providers to assess a child’s social and emotional development.
  • Teaching of self–regulation techniques (such as calming strategies) to individuals/small group (as appropriate to age/stage).
  • Access to regular, frequent small group/individual support, to calm down (when needed and/or before trigger points) through sensory activities, listening to music, relaxation exercises, etc.
  • Counselling and mentoring (appropriate to age and stage of child)
  • Orientation by key adult to help prepare for a session or change and/or debrief after session (with use of visual prompts).
  • A ‘Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire’ (2-4 years):  Use to plan targeted support the meet individual/group needs
  • Small group activities for managing and controlling behaviour.

Cognition and learning

Literacy: reading

  • One-to-one or small group work on pre-reading skills, the skills they will need to become independent readers.
  • One-to-one or small group story sessions, with modelling of reading skills.
  • Use of structured reading programmes when appropriate (40-60 months)

Literacy: phonics

  • Small group listening and attention activities.
  • Small group games to listen to and identify sounds.
  • Targeted phonics activities in small groups (e.g. Letters and Sounds) (30-50+ months).

Literacy: physical development – recording

  • One-to-one or small group work on gross motor and pre-writing skills, which are skills children need to develop to help their writing, such as fine motor skills.
  • Use of ICT to support recording where appropriate (30-50+ months).
  • Adults demonstrate mark making/writing and encourage children to use it in their play.
  • Staff demonstrate and encourage children to give meaning to the marks they make.


  • One-to-one or small group counting and number recognition games (depending on the age of child).

Characteristics of effective learning

Access to learning

  • New learning is linked with what your child already knows.

Thinking skills

  • Adult to model and support key learning skills such as exploring, having a go, persevering, etc.
  • Children are supported to develop flexibility and try different ways of tackling problems.

Sensory impairments

Visual impairment (VI)

  • Access to appropriate modified resources.
  • Staff have had appropriate training to meet your child’s specific needs.
  • Specific social and emotional needs are being met.
  • Access to appropriate support during sessions.
  • Support to promote age-appropriate independence.
  • Access to a differentiated EYFS curriculum.

Hearing impairment (HI)

  • Timely access to appropriate vocabulary both pre and post-teaching.
  • Access to sign supported English.
  • Access to cued speech if needed.
  • Access to a specialist speech and language therapist.
  • Specific social and emotional needs are met.
  • Appropriate support in sessions.
  • Support to promote age-appropriate independence.
  • Access to a differentiated EYFS curriculum.
  • Staff have had appropriate training to meet the pupil’s specific needs.
  • Staff are aware of the equipment that needs to be used, for example, radio aids, soundfields, cochlear implants.
  • Staff make use of the handheld soundfield mikes (where appropriate).
  • Staff are aware of how to check the equipment is working and troubleshoot any problems.

Multi-sensory impairments

See above for VI and HI considerations.

  • Combination of VI and HI are taken into account.
  • All sensory channels (vision, hearing and touch) have been planned for in accessing the curriculum.