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Course duration
4 Months

Early Years SENCO Level 3 Overview

The Level 3 Early Years SENCO qualification is for a Level 3 practitioner in a private, voluntary or independent setting. It is also appropriate for Ofsted-registered childminders and Ofsted-registered childminder agencies. This is an important role to ensure the best possible educational outcomes are achieved for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

All early years providers are required to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with SEN (Special Educational Needs) or disabilities and to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care, as set out in the EYFS Framework.

The qualification has been designed to meet the requirements of the EYFS Framework and provide Early Years SENCOs and aspiring Early Years SENCOs with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to perform the role effectively. The programme is accredited and funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

As a part of the DfE Education Recovery Package, Best Practice Network has been allocated 7,000 funded places. These places will be prioritised in line with DfE’s guidance of the greatest need and impact. Please apply via our website and one of our consultants will contact you to discuss your eligibility and further steps.

“It’s great to be working with Best Practice Network on the delivery of Level 3 SENCO training for early years staff. This is a crucial programme within our early years education recovery package, addressing the impact of the pandemic on the youngest and most disadvantaged children."

Will Quince |  Minister for School Standards


What are the benefits?

Completing the Early Years SENCO qualification ensures that children with SEN and disabilities get the support they deserve. Participants learn how to:

  • Explain what Special Educational Needs (SEN) are
  • Describe the four areas of need and give examples of the difficulties associated with each
  • Explain how to identify when SEN is occurring in children with EAL
  • Explain how to actively engage the child and the child’s parents/carers in the Assess, Plan, Do, Review process
  • Explain the role of the early years practitioner/key worker and that of the SENCO within the cycle
  • Explain what an effective support plan should include and why clear outcomes are important


On completion of the programme, graduates will receive a certificate as well as a lanyard and badge!

As a setting, you will also be given digital banners and a certificate to proudly display your EY SENCO certified status.

How is it delivered?

The Level 3 Early Years SENCO qualification is delivered over 4 months through Online Taught Sessions and Online Study Units.

The Online Taught Sessions are 3 hours long and consist of live tutor-led training, incorporating pre-reading tasks, breakout room activities, group discussion and group training. Participants can choose to complete the Online Taught Sessions on either weekday mornings, afternoons or evenings. There will also be a limited number of Saturday sessions available.

The Online Study Units are delivered through the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment. Login details and induction training will be provided before the programme starts.

Department for Education Announcement

We are delighted with the high level of interest in the Department for Education's Early Years (EY) SENCO training offer. Having more qualified SENCOs in the EY sector will have positive impacts on children with SEND and on the sector as a whole.

Funding is available for 7,000 places in total. Training will be delivered to cohorts of trainees between October 2022 and August 2024. Each cohort will run for four months. Over 3,500 eligible applications have already been received by the Department’s delivery partner Best Practice Network.

We are aware that this could mean long wait times for many applicants before commencing the training. This situation is being managed in the following ways:

  • Training places are being offered to applicants in order of date received and each applicant is being given an indication of when they can expect to commence the training.
  • A waiting list will come into effect once the 7,000 places have been filled, again operated in order of date received.
  • Where an applicant withdraws, applicants will move up the queue.
  • Pre-training activities will be offered, aimed at preparing applicants for the training and supporting them in their SENCO role pending training. Activities will include provision of the course induction book and pre-reading, regular newsletter and programme updates and cases studies from SENCOs.
  • BPN are expanding the number of places to be made available in early cohorts so that more applicants can take the training sooner.

To undertake the Level 3 Early Years SENCO qualification, you will need to be an Early Years SENCO, or due to take up the role of Early Years SENCO, with an existing Level 3 qualification and the support of an appropriate setting, like private, voluntary or independent Early Years settings, Ofsted-registered childminders and childminder agencies.

Only one eligible SENCO per setting will be offered a training place.

The DfE allocated a limited number of funded places and set out the eligibility criteria for the candidates to maximise the impact of the funding. Please submit your application and one of our consultants will advise you on the following steps. Alternatively, you can contact us for more information.

The Level 3 Early Years SENCO qualification is fully-funded by the DfE for SENCOs, or those due to take up the role of SENCO, working in private, voluntary or independent early years settings, Ofsted-registered childminders and childminder agencies. We anticipate that only one eligible SENCO per setting will be offered a training place.

Please note that we have been allocated a limited number of funded places on the programme. To be eligible, the candidates must meet the criteria outlined by the DfE. After submitting your application one of our consultants will get in touch to explain the next steps.

Early Years SENCO


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