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Early years and childcare

Your child’s early years are a very important time for their development. We offer support to ensure your child has what they need so they can learn and play.

All children, including disabled children and those with special educational needs, will be offered the same service at all registered early years settings in Barking and Dagenham.

SEND code of practice

The special educational needs and disability code of practice for 0 to 25 years states that all children are entitled to an education. All providers of early years education are required to follow this code.

SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years

If your child has special educational needs, a medical condition or is disabled (SEND), the code sets out the duties of early education providers. These are to:

  • make sure your child gets the support they need
  • ensure your child engages in early education activities alongside other children
  • designate a member of staff to be responsible for co-ordinating SEND provision (the SEND co-ordinator, or SENCO)
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • promote equality of opportunity for disabled children, under the Equality Act 2010.


Early years strategy

Our early years education strategy 2015-18 (PDF, 665KB, new one is under development) has been designed to support and complement the overarching aims of the education strategy. These are that all our children and young people should have:

  • a place in a good or outstanding school or early years setting
  • the best possible life opportunities so that by the time they leave school they exceed national and then London averages as the benchmark

This strategy recognises the crucial role that this first phase of education plays in ensuring good and better outcomes for all children.

Supporting your child at home

Portage and early support

Our Portage and Inclusion service supports children aged 0 to 3 years with additional needs, including deaf children, working with you in your home to help your child in all areas of learning and development.

Joseph Clarke Educational Service for the Visually Impaired

The Joseph Clarke Service provides advice and support for children and young people aged 0 to 19 with a visual impairment, and their parents/carers, settings and schools.

Additional support before your child starts school

If your child needs help from education, social care or health services we will use the early help referral to assess the help we can offer. This  is a straightforward way of requesting services to help us decide with you how best to support your child if they have additional needs. This will involve a meeting with you, your child, and any professional who has been involved with you. It will gather all the information so we can ask for the right support. It will also ensure we look at all of your child’s needs at the same time. Meetings will be agreed with you and the professionals involved to discuss your child’s progress and what needs to be done.

If your child needs a statutory assessment (this might lead to an education, health and care plan), the CAF will be used as part of the referral to our Education, Health and Care Team. This will mean your child will be supported for all their needs.

Contact the Education, Health and Care Team if you want your child to be considered for assessment.

Support with your assessment

If you would like support with the assessment process, contact the Information, Advice and Support Service.


The early years foundation stage

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s readiness for school. It gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for future progress through school and life.

Finding suitable childcare

Our Family Information Service can provide you with information to help you find the right childcare for your child.

Services at children’s centres

There are 7 children’s centres and 7 satellite hubs in the borough, offering a range of services for children and their families. All offer inclusive provision and advice. The Heathway Centre has a special focus on support for families with disabled children.

For parents of children with additional needs, children’s centres provide a chance to meet other parents and carers, and get advice about the other services that are on offer. While parents are doing this, children can take part in fun activities.

Find a children's centre

Education, Health and Care Team

2nd Floor, Barking Town Hall, Town Hall Square, 1 Clockhouse Avenue, Barking IG11 7LU

020 8227 2400