Specialist Teaching and Preschool Service

The Specialist Teaching and Preschool Service is an integrated multi-disciplinary team of specialist education support and outreach staff, undertaking a range of complementary roles within the following specified areas of need:

The service is staffed by a highly skilled, appropriately qualified workforce, fully experienced in the education of children (with the full range of SEN categories of need) in mainstream settings. The service operates in line with national frameworks of quality assurance for specialist SEND support and outreach service providers.

The service operates as 4 distinct quadrant teams, however deployment of staff across area, specialism and education phase, enables the service to target the right support in the right place as needed. The service is targeted at supporting those children/young people with high needs as a result of low-incidence SEND.

The service provides specialist SEN support and outreach as below:

Preschool sector

The service hosts a dedicated Preschool SEN support and outreach team as well as providing specialist support from the Specialist Teacher team for young children with sensory impairments. Initial referrals to the Preschool service are made by Health professionals.

A team of Area SENCOs supports all Essex non-maintained preschool settings so that all preschool children with SEND can access their entitlement to an inclusive nursery education.

Preschool service activities focus on supporting families and early years’ practitioners to meet the needs of babies and young children with the full range of complex special educational needs and disabilities within the coordinated framework of Early Support. The team also supports families to access local services, such as children’s centres, libraries and community events, through a number of supported group activities.

The team delivers the Essex Good Beginnings programme for children with social communication difficulties or autism, which includes advice and training for parents and practitioners, as well as targeted intensive interventions for some children. Non-maintained preschool settings are supported to develop practice in line with the Autism Education Trust’s national standards and competencies, through the Good Beginnings early years Autism-friendly setting award scheme.

Primary School sector

The service provides specialist advice and support for all mainstream primary schools in relation to those pupils who have both complex and high needs. The focus of our work is to build capacity within the primary schools’ workforce to meet the needs of children with SEN and disabilities.

To support these objectives, the teams provide:

  • advice on effective teaching techniques and strategies, classroom management, and curriculum materials; support for curriculum development, direct teaching and practical support for class teachers
  • a range of staff training and development opportunities, both informal and formal

Consultancy with the Specialist Teaching service is available for primary schools via telephone, drop-in sessions or scheduled school visits. The service facilitates a range of professional networks for school staff and SENCOs, and delivers a comprehensive SEN training programme. Some direct work is undertaken with families where necessary, particularly in relation to children with autism, social-emotional difficulties and sensory impairments.

Secondary School sector

The service only provides specialist advice and support for mainstream secondary schools in relation to pupils who have sensory (visual, hearing, multi-sensory) and physical impairments. The service does however support the transition of pupils from their primary school placement at the start of Year 7, and includes some networking and training opportunities for staff in the secondary sector through the SEN training programme.

The service produces a weekly SENCO Bulletin for Essex schools to keep staff updated on local and national SEND issues, and maintains a presence on Pinterest to share good practice, as well as being involved in a number of collaborative projects with other SEND services.

Who the service provides for

Summaries of the scope of services provided, and any eligibility criteria, are described on separate pages of the Essex Local Offer website (please refer to the links above).

How the service is accessed

Please refer to separate service pages for details of how to access specific services.

Operational locations

  • Essex


County Hall
Market Road