Early Years Support

The heart of our education Local Offer is our Education Support page. However, there are lots of sources of information and support specifically for Early Years (children aged 0-5 years).

If your child is 5, you might be wondering whether to look for information under 0-5 or 5-16. These age groupings are based on education key stages.   This area is aimed at children 0-5, pre-school.  If your child has started school then you may find more relevant information in our 5-16 section.

Read more on our 5-16 pages

Education support – universal and targeted

Parents/carers told us that they often have to rely on word of mouth to understand what ‘good’ education support looks like. Every setting will approach support for children with special educational needs slightly differently, but we have worked with early years providers and specialists to capture a standard offer. To understand how early years settings can support children with additional needs, please enter your child’s needs and age into our Education Support page.

Read more about Education support

Education support – specialist support

Children with long-term or complex special educational needs will need specialist support. This is the kind of support provided for children who meet the statutory threshold.  These are the children who will have an Education, Health and Care plan.  In Wiltshire we call the EHC Plan a ‘My Plan’.

This type of support is completely person-centred, which means it will vary depending on an individual’s needs. This makes it difficult to ‘capture’ in a standard offer. Therefore, we have create a separate section to explain how education, health and care plans, or My Plans as they are known in Wiltshire, will work.

Read more about Early Years support

Mediation and Appeal

If you are unhappy with the educational support your family are offered, you have the right to mediation and appeal. This might be because you have been turned down in an application for support you feel you are entitled to, or because you are unhappy with the support you are being provided.

Read more about mediation and appeals

Early years funding

2 year old funding

From September 2014 the law is changing to allow more two year olds to benefit from free childcare than ever before.  In Wiltshire, we have branded the funding as ‘Better 2gether Funding’.

Read more about 2 year old funding

3 and 4 year old funding

Wiltshire Council provides free early education places for all three and four year olds in Wiltshire. Free places can be provided by a variety of providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sector, including accredited child minders.

Read more about 3 and 4 year old funding here


Portage is a home visiting, home education service that works with young disabled children (aged 0-5) and their families.

  • Wiltshire has two Portage services. Salisbury Portage covers South Wiltshire.
  • Wiltshire Portage is a local charity that covers the rest of the county.
  • Portage Home Visitors are specially trained  and break down learning outcomes into small steps suitable to the child’s level of ability.
  • Portage works closely with both child and parent /carer to not only help the child’s development, but also to empower the parent to help their child learn.
  • Portage takes a team around the child approach, so work closely with other services including the SEND Service to ensure the holistic needs of the child and their family are met.

Visit the Wiltshire Portage website


For specific information about OFSTED registered childcare, child minders and specific sources of support and information for early years aged children, please have a look at our Childcare Directory.

Visit the Wiltshire Council Childcare Directory

Children’s centres

Children’s centres provide support for parents, carers and their children.

  • They are primarily aimed at children under 5 but also work with children up to 11.
  • Children Centre’s offer advice and information as well as being able to direct you towards other services that may be able to help.
  • Children’s Centre offer a range of services including activities, groups, individual support as well as advice on  family health, parenting, money, training and employment.
  • Some Centres also have sensory rooms and equipment which can be accessed by parents and carers.
  • Wiltshire has 30 Children’s Centres.

Find your nearest Children’s centre

District specialist centres

Wiltshire has four district specialist centres, also known as Opportunity Groups. They provide setting based sessions for young children (aged 0-5) with special education needs and/or disability (SEND) and support for parents/ carers.

Each service has specially trained staff and equipment to ensure they can meet the needs of all children including those with the most profound and complex needs including complex health needs.

The District Specialist Centre is also a local hub for specialist services for young disabled children so families can access health professionals such as speech and language (these services can also be accessed through professional referral). They take a team around the child approach, so work closely with other services including the SEND Service to ensure the holistic needs of the child and their family are met.


Springboard – Chippenham

Opportunity Centre – Devizes

John McNeil Opportunity Group – Salisbury

Stepping Stones District Specialist Centre – Trowbridge


Additional support and information is available to help children and young people when moving through different phases of education e.g. from Early Years to school, from primary to secondary school.  All maintained nurseries, schools and academies are required to  publish a SEN information report which provides information about the support they offer for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities within their care.

If you have a specific enquiry about a child with SEND please call the SEND Single Point of Contact on 01225 757985 (9am – 4.30pm, Monday – Friday).

Additional documentation regarding the transition process can be viewed in the ‘Useful Documents’ section of the website.   For further information please click here.

Cartoon representation of Wiltshire
Wiltshire Council