The early identification of young children’s special educational needs (SEN), as well as the development of specific strategies to support those children identified with special needs, are increasingly recognised as crucial to facilitating good adjustment to school and to ensuring that such children are helped to reach their full potential in education. Using a large national sample of young children in England whose developmental progress was followed up from pre‐school, this study investigates which child, family, home and pre‐school factors can be viewed as risk or protective factors for later SEN‐status at age 10. The experience of high‐quality pre‐school education is shown to reduce the likelihood of a child being identified as experiencing SEN in the long run. Teachers’ assessments of SEN are found to be strongly related to children’s reading and mathematics attainment, but other factors also predict SEN, including a child’s age within a year group
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