What is a SENCo?

In our setting we have a designated person who takes on the role as named SENCo and has this role alongside her other responsibilities in setting.  The SENCo works closely with the manager and colleagues to ensure that SEN policies and procedures are met day to day in all aspects of work to support children with SEN. 

Who is the SENCo at Toybox? 

Keeley Gurney

All about Keeley

Keeley has had 17 years working with early years children and 12 years experience working as SENCo, she has always been passionate about having high expectations for all children including those with SEND.    “ the most rewarding part of any of my roles in nursery is supporting the children who need more support and seeing them improve whilst being happy and content” . As well as SENCo Keeley works alongside Jamie as manager. Keeley isn’t based in a room so she can focus on her SENCo role as and when it requires her to do so. Keeley has a job description specific to this role all parents and staff can access this in nursery policies and procedures. Keeley has worked with children with various needs such as Autism, speech and language and communication, Behavioural and Downs syndrome. To keep herself up to date with relevant training and guidance to constantly improve practice and knowledge she ensures she undertakes any training that would benefit nursery and her skills, staff working alongside Keeley as key workers for children with SEND will also go on any training needed to help support children.

How do we track and monitor children’s development

In nursery we follow the Early years foundation stage trackers to track children’s development, when a child starts our setting we monitor and track their baseline development so we know where a child will be based on their Trackers, The SENCo would help the child’s key worker track the child’s baseline assessment and work together with families understand where a child is when they start nursery, we ask families to complete a ‘What to expect when’ document to help us give children starting points. From then onwards child’s key worker will observe and plan activities every half term which is roughly every 6 weeks to ensure we keep track of how the child is developing, the key worker will also do snapshot observations and ask for parents input by using parent observations. The SENCo would do some specific SENCo observations, such as time samples/event samples and SENCo long observations to help track a child’s progress over time. The SENCo would also follow the graduated approach to ensure that the child has further support in addition to the settings normal tracking process). We offer 2 parents evenings throughout the year and key workers will do a progress report where the track a child’s development and 3 times a year, the child’s key worker will also do an EYFS tracker to give to the manager so she can  track all children’s development in setting. We also track 2 year olds development by completing a 2 year progress check, these documents are for all children that are between 2 and 3 years years old and complete a 2 year old progress report. The Special Educational needs and disability code of practice 0 to25 years 5.23 When a child is aged between two and three, early years practitioners must review progress and provide parents with a short written summary of their child’s development, focusing in particular on communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional development. This progress check must identify the child’s strengths and any areas where the child’s progress is slower than expected. If there are significant emerging concerns (or identified SEN or disability) practitioners should develop a targeted plan to support the child, involving other professionals such as, for example, the setting’s SENCO or the Area SENCO, as appropriate. The summary must highlight areas where: 

  • good progress is being made 
  • some additional support might be needed
  • there is a concern that a child may have a developmental delay (which may indicate SEN or disability

All of these points are addressed on our 2 year checked, we currently ask that parents let us know when a children 2 year reviews has been booked in with their Health visitor so that we can plan to do our check around the same time so that we can work closely with the health visitor if needed, we also ask that parents share the report with us as this helps build a bigger picture of where the child is at during this process. 

The Graduated Approach

‘All settings should adopt a graduated approach with four stages of action: assess, plan, do and review’ SEND code of practice 2015. In nursery when supporting children with additional needs, we follow government guidelines and use the Plan do review process to ensure effective practice and to ensure the child is making progress. The SEND code of practice states that ‘Reviewing the effectiveness of interventions in enabling children to make progress can itself be part of the assessment of need, informing the next steps to be taken as part of a graduated approach’

Assess: When there are concerns regarding a child’s development, we assess to find out where a child is having difficulty, this will be done through observations, event samples, time samples discussion with the child’s parents and carers and analysing the child’s progress overtime, Assessing a child should be regularly reviewed to ensure that targets in place are appropriate to meet the needs of the child. When assessing a child with parental permission settings should contact other professionals where needed for support or information can help with the assessment. In my nursery the SENCO would be responsible for assessing a child’s needs we would use various observation skills, have meetings with parents, and key workers to discuss the needs of the child and communicate with other professionals as needed, For example when a child started attending my setting on admission the parent discussed concerns regarding the child’s speech delay. After the child had started nursery and the Key worker had also discussed concerns with myself, with parents permission we may contact the child’s Heath visitor to help gather further information to help us asses the child’s need. 

Plan: When we have decided that SEN support is needed to support a child, we start the plan process where SENCo will have consulted with parents and practitioners and set, targets and interventions and support need for the child, child’s views should be taken into account for example using activities based on interests of the child. At this stage a time scale should be set for review and what impact you are hoping the plan to achieve. When we have enough evidence the SENCO will have a meeting with parents and key workers to go through a child’s IEP (individual Education Plan). The plan has Actions, Targets, and implementation information to explain what interventions we are setting for the individual child, there is a section for parents and carers. The review date will be written on at the start of the plan and parents and carers will sign the document and have a copy will be given to them. At this stage the SEND code of practice 2015 states that ‘Any related staff development needs should be identified and addressed’ If needed we will organise any training or development strategies that are needed to support the child and practitioners working with the child. 

Do: It is usually the child’s key worker who Implements the plan, as they work with the child on a daily basis. The SENCo is responsible for overseeing the implementations of interventions set for the child, ensuring that the practitioner understands each intervention and how a child is responding to targets set. it is the SENCO’s responsibility to ensure that the child’s key worker understands what is set on the child’s IEP and to demonstrate techniques and model activities. She will ensure that each child’s activities are set out on the SENCo planning sheet to ensure all the staff knows when and where to carry out individual activities for children. We require staff to record their activities on an IEP recording sheet and I regularly check in on children and key workers to ensure that children are working towards targets. 

Review: Reviewing a child’s progress in line with the date set at the ‘Plan’ stage, the effectiveness of the targets set and how this has impacted on the child’s progress should be reviewed. The SENCo and the practitioner should ensure parents are included in this stage and children’s views are heard. The SEND Code of Practice 2015 states that reviews ‘should agree any changes to the outcomes and support for the child in light of the child’s progress and development’.  We hold children’s IEP reviews, We ensure that the parents, carers can make the review date and invite any other professionals involved with the child to review meetings. Before a review meeting the SENCo will go through a child’s IEP with the child’s key worker we will ensure that we can track a child’s progress made and this will be discussed in the review. Next steps will be agreed and we will all decide on support needed to follow.

Other professionals and networks involved

During children’s time within the setting the SENCo may need to contact other professionals to help support children and staff. Some of the professionals we work with are-

  • Health visitors
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Hearing Specialists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Consultants/Nurse
  • Early Years inclusion services (0-5 SEND team)
  • Educational psychologists
  • Visual impairment services
  • Social services
  • Autism Team
  • Other schools or settings for transitions 

We are aware that there are many other services available to help support children and families when needed, for referrals, support and advice.  Networking with other professionals who work in the early years sector can be very beneficial for keeping up to date with support available, training available and communicate with the Early years quality team in Sheffield to ensure this.


We work in partnership with carers because we believe that parents are children’s first learners, parent know their children and they should be involved in all stages of children’s development and time spent at nursery, we manage this in various ways, face to face feedback daily and daily care sheets for children, parents evenings and IEP review meetings for children with SEN. On our observation and planning sheets we write for individual children we have a section for parents, we also have a praise tree where parents can write out an observation when they have noticed a child has done something for the first time or for something they are proud of. Parents are encouraged to discuss concerns and children’s key workers explain to parents what they are working on each term with individual children. Key workers are introduced initially when a child is setting to build up a relationship and get to know the family feel that this helps when discussing any concerns for example if we have a concern with a child’s behaviour or if a child is struggling to reach developmental milestones it is usually the child’s key worker who informs a parent. 

If you would require any further information with any aspects of SEND within our nursery please contact 

Keeley Gurney on telephone 0114 2685623 

Contact Us

Toy Box Nursery
217 Upperthorpe, Sheffield, S6 3NG

Telephone: 0114 268 5623


Latest News

14 January 2021
14 December 2020