Coronavirus, early years and childcare

To prevent the spread of coronavirus and in order to follow government guidelines, families should only attend a Children’s centre if they have been invited to do so.

Childcare during coronavirus

If you are a key worker or you have a vulnerable child, you can apply for childcare 

The department for education has clear information for childcare settings that remain open for key workers and vulnerable children.

Children's centres virtual activities

We have a range of virtual sessions and support around early speech, language and communication. You can join us via zoom or 121 phone calls. We also have information on how you can get your early start vitamins and vouchers, Bookstart baby packs and activities you can do while staying safe at home.

Training sessions cancelled

All early years training, adult education courses and universal children’s centre sessions have been cancelled until further notice.

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Early Years Inclusion

NURSERIES_TH_033-minThe Tower Hamlets Integrated Early Years Service believes that each child is an individual with their own unique developmental profile. We are committed to inclusion and meeting the needs of all children. We use the term ‘additional needs’ instead of ‘special educational needs’ – as used in The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities code of practice in order to avoid language which labels children as different or separate.

We believe that parents are the first educators of their child and have a detailed understanding of their child, their development and their needs. They have a unique perspective of their child to share.

The Area Inclusion Coordinators provide services to support early identification and planning for children with additional needs from birth to 5 years of age.

For information on services available to children and young people with additional needs and disabilities and their families, please see the Tower Hamlets Local Offer

Other information you can find on this page

  1. Who are the Area Inclusions Coordinators?

  2. What is the SEND code of practice?

  3. What is the person-centred approach?

  4. Early Years Inclusion Fund
  5. Interim arrangements for transition in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for PVI settings

Who are the Area Inclusion Coordinators?

The Area Inclusion Co-ordinators use the person-centred approach, which places children and families at the centre.

There is a wide range of additional needs that are often inter-related. There are also specific needs that usually relate directly to particular area of development. Every child is unique and each identified need will be on a spectrum and may change over time.

The SEND code of practice 2015 identifies areas of need in the following four broad areas:

  1. Communication and interaction;

  2. Cognition and learning;

  3. Social, emotional and mental health;

  4. Sensory and/or physical.

You can find out more about the process for supporting children with additional needs in private, voluntary and independent (PVI) early years settings.

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What is the SEND code of practice?

The SEND code of practice 2015 describes the principles that should be observed by those working with children and young people who have SEN or disabilities. These include:

  • taking into account the views of children, young people and their families;

  • enabling children, young people and their parents to participate in decision-making;

  • collaborating with partners in education, health and social care;

  •  early identification of the needs of children and young people;

  • making high quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people;

  • focusing on inclusive practices and removing barriers to learning;

  • helping children and young people to prepare for adulthood DfE Early Years Guide to the SEND code of practice 2014 (page 5).


More detailed information can be found within the SEN and disability in the early years: A toolkit produced by the Council for Disabled Children.

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What is the person-centred approach?

In early years, 'the voice of the child' is captured in a variety of ways and central to this process is the parents' knowledge about their child. Person-centred planning gives confidence to parents that they are being listened to and their views and contributions are valued.

Person-centred planning is an approach where children are treated with respect, honesty and care as their views, feelings and wishes are listened to and used to inform the support they receive. Parents are central to this process.

Person-centred planning is underpinned by the four guiding principles in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.  It also reflects the underlying principle of SEND code of practice 2015.

Person-centred planning supports everyone in getting to know the child better in order to plan effective support and the strategies are more meaningful as they are understood and agreed by everyone.

Person-centred planning meetings are supportive environments where everyone, including the child if appropriate, has opportunity to share their views and plan for the child. If it is not appropriate for a child to attend the person-centred meeting, it is essential to plan how the child's views and feelings will be represented which may include:

  • everyone sharing their perceptions of the child and what they think are the child's views and feelings;

  • discussion about the perceived views and feelings to make sure everyone understands;

  • observations which have been made at the setting and home;

  • All About Me book;

  • photographs;

  • video.

Further information on person-centred planning can be found in the guidance Person-centred planning with children and young people – the Tower Hamlets model. For the Tower Hamlets person-centred planning formats.


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Early Years Inclusion Fund

All local authorities are required to establish an inclusion fund for 3 and 4 year olds who are taking up any number of hours of free entitlement in PVI settings.  Tower Hamlets has extended this offer to 2 year olds who are also accessing the free entitlement at these settings. 

The Early Years Inclusion Fund provides a contribution to support inclusion of children with emerging significant additional needs in PVI settings.  Funding is available based on a child’s needs and is linked to the free entitlement hours that the child is accessing.

For further details and application see:


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