The people working with your child
Various professionals work with your child during different stages of their education. Some will be based at school or college, while others are from local authorities or hospitals. Often, they work together to achieve the best result for your child. Here’s our quick guide to help you identify them.
Special educational needs and disabilities coordinator
A special educational needs and disabilities coordinator (SENDCO) is a qualified and experienced teacher who has additional qualifications in special educational needs. They are appointed to work with all children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in an educational environment.
Their job involves:
- collecting, recording and updating information about all SEND children and young people
- working closely with parents and other professionals to identify and plan interventions and support
- offering advice and support to colleagues, and to arrange any training if necessary
- planning review meetings for all SEND children and young people
- making sure targets are set, monitored and evaluated for all SEND children/young people
- ensuring a smooth transition from one stage of education to another i.e. from primary to secondary school
Qualified teacher of the vision impaired
A qualified teacher of the vision impaired (QTVI) provides advice and support to parents, teachers and the local authority during your child’s time at school. They will visit your child’s school and may also visit your family at home, especially in the first few years after your child has been diagnosed.
Teaching or learning support assistant
These members of staff work with pupils to hit their targets, as well as providing in-class support. They may be involved in lesson planning, preparation, and modifying any equipment to meet your child’s needs.
Teaching/learning support assistants might support a whole class, a small group or an individual child. You might also hear them called special support assistants or education support assistants.
An educational psychologist is employed by the local authority and may be a qualified teacher too. It’s their job to assess your child’s learning needs and social skills, and they will often coordinate assessments for education, health and care plans.
They will most likely be involved with your child’s journey after the age of two, when many children are assessed for early education support.
Speech and language therapist
A speech and language therapist (SALT) helps children who may have trouble with their language and communication skills. They can also offer advice if your child has trouble feeding or swallowing.
An occupational therapist (OT) often works with children with a vision impairment who also have difficulties with sensory and motor skills. They will assess your child’s sensory, perceptual, social and emotional wellbeing and then recommend games and activities to help develop their abilities.
An OT can also provide advice on equipment and modifying your home to help support your child’s independence.
If your child has issues walking or moving confidently, a physiotherapist can recommend exercises to help develop their crawling, walking, posture and mobility. They can also suggest activities or other movement aids to build better muscle tone in children with physical problems.
Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
This is an umbrella term for all the services that support children and young people with mental, emotional or behavioural difficulties. CAMHS workers provide expert advice and information for children and young people, their parents, and other adults involved in their care.
CAMHS involve team members from different areas of health and social care, such as support workers, psychologists, social workers and physiotherapists. Teams vary depending on your NHS trust, local authority, and local support services or charities.
Information, Advice and Support Services (IASS) Network
Previously known as Parent Partnership, the IASS provides information, advice and support to SEND children and young people, and their parents or carers. It is a statutory service, which means there has to be one in every local authority by law.
They offer free, impartial and confidential services such as advising on local policies, help filling in forms and reports, a phone helpline, and links to local parent support groups. Find out more at iassnetwork.org.uk
National Portage Association home visitors
Portage is a home-visiting educational service for pre-school SEND children and their families. Home visitors work with your child to help develop their play, communication and relationship skills. They can also help you to support your child by offering practical strategies and setting small goals to achieve bigger targets. Find out more at portage.org.uk
Mobility officer or habilitation officer
A mobility or habilitiation officer helps children with a vision impairment develop their movement and skills to live independently. This includes walking, orientation and cane techniques, and life skills such as money management and personal care.