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Information & advice
There are a lot of professionals and service when it comes to SEND, all with different names, roles and abbreviations. Many of which sound very similar! We have put together this guide on the professionals and services that are often involved with children and young people who have or are suspected to have SEND.
In each area services differ in their names, which children and young people they will be involved with, and what they offer. This list is meant as an overview and guide to professionals and services who may be involved.
Every school must have a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator, a SENDCo. The SENDCo is a qualified teacher who is responsible for organising the provision for children with SEND in the school.
Some schools, especially smaller primary schools, share a SENDCo. They are sometimes called a Family of Schools SENDCo. This will be a qualified teacher who will organise the provision for children with SEND in the schools they are responsible for.
Schools may also have an Inclusion Manager or the SENDCo may also take on this role. Inclusion Managers are responsible for organising provision for all children in a school who have particular needs not only SEND. Examples could be children whose first language is not English or children whose family have social care involvement.
The Head Teachers role in relation to SEND is to oversee the work of the school staff, including the SENDCo. In small schools the Head Teacher may take on the role of SENDCo.
The SEND Governor sits on the board of governors for a school and is responsible for monitoring and supporting the school with matters relating to SEND. The SEND governor, alongside the Chair of Governors, will also deal with complaints relating to SEND provision.
A Class Teacher plans and teaches lessons. They also assess and monitor the progress of children in their class and highlight to parents and the SENDCo any concerns about a child’s development and learning. A class teacher will also implement any support plans put together by the SENDCo and should be involved in reviewing these plans.
A Teaching Assistant (TA) provides support to the Class Teacher. They also support the learning of children with SEND, this could be on a whole class, small group or one to one basis. Children with SEND may have a TA who works with them throughout the school day depending on the plan of support in place for that child. TA’s are also called Learning Support Assistants (LSA) or Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA).
An Educational Psychologist, often referred to as an Ed Psych, is a professional who is legally registered to assess a child’s special educational needs and give advice on how to meet the needs of the child. Schools are able to use Educational Psychologists employed by the Local Authority or they may use private Educational Psychologists. An educational Psychologist will be involved in the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessments and may be involved in reviews.
A Specialist Teacher is a teacher who has expertise in working with children with specific needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or those who are visually impaired. They can work directly with the child or can make recommendations for how school staff should work with the child. Teams of specialist teachers are employed by Local Authorities and schools pay for them to come in to work with a child. There are also independent businesses who offer services. Large schools with a high intake of children with a certain need may employ a specialist teacher directly.
An Area SENDCo, alternately called a Locality SENDCo, are sometimes employed by the Local Authority to oversee the SEND provision in the area. Area SENDCo’s give training and guidance to school SENDCo’s in their area. In some areas they also help assess the needs of children and write support plans.
The Local Authority team who deal with EHC assessment, plans and reviews, often have a name that is unique to the area but they are generally referred to as the SEND Team. You should be able to find out the name of the team through the Local Offer along with their contact details. The team are responsible for deciding on and completing EHC Needs Assessments and Plans, school placements and the associated funding, and Annual Reviews. They often make a lot of these decision through panels where professionals, many of whom are listed here, make decisions in regards to EHC Plans. Again, these panels have names unique to the Local Authority but examples include Assessment Panel and Placement Panel.
The person responsible for an EHCP for a child or Young Person is the SEND Caseworker, again their job title is unique to the Local Authority area. They are usually responsible for certain schools in the area and any EHCP’s of children attending those schools. Many Local Authorities also have a post-16 team responsible for plans of young people over compulsory school age and may have a complex caseworker responsible for children placed at schools out of the area or who are accessing home learning. The contact details of the team will be available on the Local Offer.
It is up to each Local Authority to decide how the SEND Teams are managed. There is often a Head of SEND who is responsible for overseeing the services for children and Young People with SEND in the area. They may also be involved in decisions relating to complex cases, such as independent school placements, and deal with complaints regarding Local Authority policy and practice.
SENDIAS services provide information, advice and support to children and young people with SEN and their parents. They provide impartial advice on the special educational needs system to help the children, their parents and young people to play an active and informed role in their education and care. Although funded by local authorities, SENDIAS Services are run either at arm’s length from the local authority or by a voluntary organisation to ensure children, their parents and young people have confidence in them. Find out more here.
Some children with a disability have a Disability Social Worker. The role of this social worker is to assess the needs of the child and family and put together a package of support. This support could include adaptations to the home, short breaks and respite. They will be part of the Disabled Children Social Work Team and the details of how to contact this team should be available on the Local Offer.
Speech and Language Therapy, known as SALT, is the service which provides assessment and therapy for children who have difficulty with communication. They will often provide a plan of interventions to be delivered in school and sometimes at home. Referrals to SALT depend on the area but can often be made by schools, parents or GP’s.
Occupational Therapy, known as OT, is the service which provides assessment and therapy for children who have difficulty with their gross motor skills (such as running and jumping) and fine motor skills (such as holding a pen and dressing themselves). They can also support children and young people who struggle with sensory processing. They will often provide a plan of interventions to be delivered in school and home. Referrals to OT depend on the area but can often be made by schools, parents or GP’s.
Physiotherapy, often known as Physio, is the service which provides assessment and therapy for children who have difficulty with mobility, movement and muscle strength. They will often provide a plan of interventions to be delivered at home and sometimes at school. They can also provide advice on adaptations that can be made to help a child access school activities. Referrals to Physio depend on the area but can often be made by the GP or parents.
CAMHS, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, is the service which provides support to children (usually up to school leaving age) who are experiencing difficulties with their emotional and mental well-being. What is offered by CAMHS depends on the area but they may offer advice, one to one support, family support and online services. Parents can refer to CAMHS, along with professionals such as GP’s or school staff. You can find the CAMHS service in your area here.
Often the Neurodevelopment service sits under CAMHS. This service sees children where there are concerns regarding possible neurodevelopmental conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The service offers assessment, diagnosis, advice and support. Neurodevelopment referrals differ between areas but often GP’s and schools can refer along with parents in some areas.
Paediatricians are doctors who assess, diagnose and manage medical conditions affecting infants, children and adolescents. GP’s can refer to paediatrics.
PALS, the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, operate in each area and offers confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters, including helping to resolve concerns and make complaints. You can find your local PALS on the NHS website.
The First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) known as SENDIST is responsible for handling appeals against local authority decisions regarding SEND.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman referred to as the LGO, looks into individual complaints about councils. They are a free service that investigates complaints in a fair and independent way. You can find out more on the LGO website.