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SEND( Special Educational Needs and Disabilities)Support Service-Early Years


Our team includes Early Years Advisory Teachers and Specialist SEND Practioners (SSP). Our staff work closely with parents and in partnership with other agencies involved with individual children including professionals from health and social care.

We provide children (birth to 5 years) and their practitioners with support to meet the individual needs of young children who have or may have a special educational need or disability.

This could include:

  • assessment of a child's needs
  • advice and guidance drop-in sessions for practitioners including PVIs, Nursery Schools, Childminders, Children’s Centres and Reception classes  (see below for times or call on the number provided)
  • training for practitioners (click on link below to make a booking)
  • planned educational programmes for individual children with SEND

We aim to support the inclusion of children with SEND in their setting or school

In partnership with Early Years settings and schools we monitor children’s progress and development and support a successful transition into school.

The Team

Early Education Support Manager

  • Cathy Reilly

Early Years SEND Team Leaders

  • Joanne Kelly
  • Tracy Griffin

Early Years SEND Advisory Teachers

  • Jennifer Gardiner
  • Magdalena Abbotts
  • Bridget Collinge
  • Pamela Clough
  • Joanne Edwards

Please scroll down the page to find further useful information for practitioners: 'Reasonable Expectations', CAFs, and training and advice for SENCOs.

 Additional Support for practitioners 

Reasonable Expectations Document

You may also find it useful the read the document in the Downloads box. The information set out in this document is designed to support early years providers to understand the steps they are expected to take if they identify a child who may have special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND).

This document outlines what all early years providers must do for children in their setting before they access higher levels of support. It offers information about the use of the assess, plan, do, review cycle and graduated response. 

You may also find it useful to read through some of the case studies we have produced. These can be found further down this page in the Other Details section: Related links.

Drop-In Sessions  (term time only held at local children's centre).Due to COVID 19 they are currenlty taking place by telephone consultation till further notice.

Mon    3-5pm


Jennifer Gardiner

01254 666664

Tues   3-5pm 


Joanne Edwards

01254 269273

Weds  3-5pm     


Bridget Collinge

01254 587966 

Thurs 3-5pm

Little Harwood 

Magdalena Abbotts 

01254 666 416

  SEN Inclusion Funding for 3 and 4 year olds 2021-2022:

  • The Advisory Teacher/Team Leader agrees that the child meets the criteria for SEN Inclusion Funding at the Advice and Guidance drop in session and confirms the funding for two terms.
  • Funding will be allocated initially for a maximum of two terms and paid termly at £177.55 per term.

Early Years SENCo Cluster Meetings

The service holds Early Years SENCo cluster meetings.  The aims of these meetings sre to:

  • Provide updates about changes to legislation, statutory responsibilities or service delivery with regards to SEND
  • Share good practice, challenges and solutions across the range of EYFS providers
  • Provide information about funding opportunities or additional resource and support that could support a plan for a child

All SENCo cluster meetings due to COVID 19 and social distancing will take place virtual.

  • Next SENCO cluster meeting: TBC by microsoft teams.

BwD are using Microsoft Teams, if you have not already downloaded this onto your systems ,we advise you to do so and invitations will be sent to you via email,and when you accept,you will be sent a link to "join the meeting".

 We advise that all children who have SEND have a co-ordinated plan in place. Examples could be:

  • Eduation and Health Care Plan (EHCP)
  • Child Proetection (CP)
  • Child In Need(CIN)
  • Child & Family Assessment (CAF) 

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • It ensures that parents/carers and children's voices are central to the support for their children
  • It provides the opportunity for regular reviews of progress  with  the range of professionals involved with the child and a ‘one plan’ approach
  • Where children are progressing to an EHCP, CAF is well placed to gather and co-ordinate information and demonstrate the efforts that have been made to support the child prior to an EHCP request.
  • Early Years settings will be able to claim the SEN inclusion Fund for children with low level or emerging needs to support them with their graduated response.

Advice and guidance about CAFs can be accessed through the CAF Link Workers Zoe Fitzpatrick and Laura McKelvey, who supports Lead Professionals with quality assurance support.


Support for parents of children with complex needs 

Little Treasures (Currently not running due to COVID19)

A group for families who have children with complex and additional needs.

The group caters for children from birth to 3 (pre-school age).

Families meet weekly on a Friday morning at Shadsworth Children's Centre.

The session includes opportunities to meet with relevant professionals, a variety of stimulating activities and toys and useful information.

Health professionals make the referral to this group.


Portage is an educational service delivered in family homes, children’s centres and childcare settings for children from birth to three years old who have significant special educational needs and disabilities.

Our Portage Model is based upon child-led play, structured teaching and family focus to ensure children and their families are supported in the best way possible to achieve their full potential.

We support parents and carers in their own home to develop their child's learning through play and promote positive outcomes. Parents and carers know their children best and it is easier for children to learn in familiar, comfortable surroundings. The idea is to have fun together.

Portage Stay and Play Session - by invitation only

In Blackburn with Darwen we also offer groups as part of our Portage offer, these are delivered in our Children’s Centres. These groups are designed to support your child’s development, provide opportunities for them to socialise with other children and for you to meet other parents connecting you and your child to your community.

Many parents have found Portage very helpful because of its supportive approach and the positive impact upon their child's development.

Who can use this service?

Any children who have significant developmental delay in 2 or more areas, special educational needs and/or disabilities can be considered for the service from birth to the time they are eligible for their free early learning place at 3 year olds

How to access the service

We will consider parents/carers self-referrals and referrals from any professional. You will find the request referral form at

You should email your referral form to

What happens after the referral?

When we have received a referral, the Portage team will contact you to make an appointment for you to meet them and a member of the team. Currently we are offering virtual appointment via video or telephone call due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This appointment will last no more than an hour. The session is an opportunity for us to get to know you and your child better through talking to you and playing with your child.

If we (you and us) decide that Portage is the right service for your child and your family, we will use a CAF (Child and Family assessment and plan) to support the work if this is not already in place. This means that you and your child’s wishes and feelings are central to the work and we can involve other people who may know your child such as your Health Visitor or Nursery provider. We will explain more about this at the initial meeting with the team.

If we decide that Portage is not the right service for you we will look at the range of other support available through the Children Centre Network and their groups and activities, all of which are focused on developing children’s learning. We will support you to access these.

What happens if my family uses the Portage service?

If the Portage service is appropriate, a Portage Worker will be assigned and visit you at home weekly or fortnightly for approximately 1 hour. During the visit, the worker will play alongside you and your child, model activities and strategies to support you in developing your child's learning. They will also help you to observe and understand their progress. Between visits you will be asked to repeat the activities until the next visit to develop the new skill. You can involve other family members in this as the activities can be built into usual family routines or play time.

At the end of each block of visits, we will carry out a detailed review of your child's progress. These reviews aim to celebrate success and outline the focus for the next block of visits.

Working with other professionals

With your permission, we will work with the other professionals who are involved with your child and family, the CAF is a useful tool to support this, and we will inform your Health Visitor and local Children's Centre that you are receiving Portage services.

When your child leaves the service, the Portage Worker will share any relevant information regarding their progress with their nursery or other setting this will support a smooth transition for your child and you.

If you would like to know more about Blackburn with Darwen portage service, or have any further questions, you can email us at:

Who to contact

Contact Name
Comments,compliments,concerns please contact

Where to go


The Early Years Team is part of the SEND Support Service and covers all Early Years Settings, Nurseries and Reception Classes in Blackburn with Darwen. 

Other Details


Age Ranges
Referral required
Other notes

The SEND Support Service Early Years Team is available to support all early year’s settings and ensure the local authority meet the duties placed upon them by Government legislation for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

This service is part of the Local Offer

Local Offer

Local Offer Age Bands
0-5 years
Needs Level
SEN Provision Type