SEND and equality legislation

This section outlines the law, the regulations and the statutory guidance relating to young disabled children, young children with SEN and young children with medical conditions in early years settings.

Those who are responsible for the early years provision: proprietors, management groups, governing bodies, need to ensure that staff are aware of and understand these and abide by them.

These include: 


Equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practices, ensuring that every child is included and supported
- Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage (2021)

Statutory framework for early years foundation stage (EYFS)

EYFS statutory guidance provides a framework of the learning and development requirements and the safeguarding and welfare requirements for early year settings. These requirements have their legal basis in section 39 of the Childcare Act (2006) and apply to all early years providers.

The Children and Families Act - Part 3 (2014) 

The Children and Families Act 2014 obtained royal assent and became law on 13 March 2014. This act is designed to fully reform services for vulnerable children, by giving them greater protection, paying special attention to those with additional needs, and also helping parents and the family as a whole.

The Children and Families Act - Part 3 (2014) defines a child and young person with a special educational need as:

1. A child or young person has special education needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. 

2. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she- 

  • has a a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post 16 institutions

3. A child under compulsory school age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she is likely to be within subsection (2) when of compulsory school age (or would be likely, if no special educational provision were made). 

4. A child or young person does not have a learning difficulty or disability solely because the language (or form of language) in which he or she is or will be taught is different from a language (or form of language) which is or has been spoken at home. 

Early years settings must have regard to the The Children and Families Act as it:

  • requires a joint approach across education, health and social care to commission services and co-operate at a local level to meet children and young people’s needs
  • requires local authorities to publicise these services as a local offer so that parents and young people are clear what support is available locally
  • establishes a framework from birth to 25 years, with Education Health and Care Plans replacing statements of SEN


The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. 

The Equality Act (2010)defines a person with a disability as: 

  • a person has a physical or mental impairment, and
  • the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities' 

Early years settings must promote equality of opportunity and must not discriminate against, harass or victimise disabled children. Settings must not discriminate:

  • directly
  • indirectly
  • for a reason arising in consequence of a disability
  • by failing to make a reasonable adjustment. Settings must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled children are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers. This includes adjustments to any provision, criterion or practice, making physical alterations and providing auxiliary aids and services. This duty is anticipatory: settings must look ahead and anticipate what disabled children might need and what adjustments might need to be made to prevent any disadvantage.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0-25 years (2015)

This is statutory guidance for organisations who work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Early years settings must follow this guidance as The Code of Practice requires:

  • early identification and an early response to SEND
  • identification of SEND with parents
  • a graduated approach to responding to SEND
  • a cycle of assess, plan, do, review
  • the involvement of specialists where a child continues to make less than expected progress

More information about Waltham Forest’s procedures for Early Years Settings can be found on Assessment, progress, early identification and SEND pathway page.

The leaders of early years settings, schools and colleges should establish and maintain a culture of high expectations that expects those working with children and young people with SEN or disabilities to include them in all the opportunities available to other children and young people so they can achieve well.
- Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0-25 years (2015)

Last update: Thursday 13th of January 2022 10:22:55 AM