A Community Paediatrician is a specialist doctor who has a different role to the paediatricians you typically see during a stay in hospital or follow up after a stay in hospital. A Community Paediatrician plays a key role in the identification of children who may have special educational needs. This professional is able to assess your child’s needs. As well as advising you about health matters, this doctor may discuss with you concerns about possible learning difficulties. Community paediatricians can fulfil an overview role on the services your child is receiving to ensure that they are being seen by all the necessary services and that this is done in a co-ordinated way. Community paediatricians can sometimes attend school meetings to provide information on a child/young person’s medical needs.
There is an educational psychologist named for each school. He/she will normally only work directly with pupils whose needs are felt to be quite considerable and who have not responded well to the interventions previously put in place for them by school staff. Generally, school staff can prioritise the order children/young people are seen in by the educational psychologist according to their level of concern. The sessions/assessments with the educational psychologist are generally planned and on one of their allocated days for visiting that school. Parents should be informed of any planned assessment with an educational psychologist and will generally have a meeting with the education psychologist to share relevant information. The educational psychologist can offer advice to the school and parents/carers on how to best support the pupil in order to take their learning forward. The educational psychologist is also required to supply a report for a child if an education health care plan is requested.
EHC Plan Co-ordinator/Named Officer
This is the role previously filled by statementing officers. It will be the role of this person to collate all information in relation to the EHC plan and write the document.
Family Forum (Wirral)/Parent-Carer Forums
Family/parent carer forums are representative local groups of parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities. They work alongside local authorities, education, health and other service providers to ensure the services they plan, commission, deliver and monitor meet the needs of children and families. Family/parent carer forums have been established in most local areas and local authorities are actively encouraged to work with them – indeed their involvement in put-ting forward the views of local parents/carers as a key part of the recent SEND re-forms is stated in the new code of practice. Here on Wirral the family forum has been contracted by the local authority to help them to co-produce the SEND reforms locally, this has been done through lots of consultations with parents/carers on their views/opinions and then ensuring that it is put forward within all decision making processes. The family forum locally is currently led by two co-chairs and a steering group. More information about Parent Carer Forums is available from the websites of Contact a Family and the National Network of parent carer forums
A Health Visitor is a qualified nurse who has undertaken extra specialist training. They will see the child until they are 5 years old/in Foundation 2 and will then transfer their care on to the school nurse. The health visitor may refer pre-school children with special educational needs to the Community Paediatrician. Your Health Visitor may be asked to provide advice as part of the statutory assessment process/ development of an EHC plan.
Independent supporters are a new role as of September 2014. There are 12 on aver-age per local authority and locally the contract for managing the Independent Sup-porters has been given to Barnardo’s. Independent supporters are supposed to be recruited and trained in time to provide families with totally independent support as the new SEND reforms are implemented in September 2014. Independent supporters, as per the guidelines outlining their role, are supposed to have capacity to – spend one to one time with families giving them help and/or advice through the new SEN assessment process if they are new to this process and also if the family has a child/young person with an identified need and is transferring from a statement to an EHC plan. Independent supporters should be available at every step of the process for families to ensure that the child/young person can access the most appropriate parts of the new SEND reforms, however the support will be time limited and therefore has to be individually tailored to meet different family’s needs. As there will not be enough independent supporters for every family there will be a criteria/system put in place to ‘ensure families most in need receive the support they need’. An Independent Supporter’s role is to promote knowledge and confidence with families around the new reforms so that they can go forward empowered not dependent. They should help the family and young person input their contributions to an EHC plan, to understand how to use the Local Offer site to access services and liaise across agencies throughout the process. If there is a disagreement around the child/young person’s SEND status or any decisions, then it is the independent supporter’s role to make sure the council under-stands the family’s point of view and what they ultimately want. The independent supporters also have a role in challenging decision making to ensure children/young people with SEND receive the support they need. (As this is a completely new role there will obviously be amendments to this section as time goes by).
The Occupational Therapist is trained to provide assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for children and young people who have a physical, co-ordination/motor and processing difficulties. The Occupational Therapist may be asked to give advice as a contribution to the education health care plan.
A Physiotherapist is trained to provide assessment and treatment in overcoming movement and physical difficulties such as problems of balance, coordination, sitting, standing and walking. The Designated Medical Officer may ask a Physiotherapist to give advice as a contribution to the education health care plan.
A school nurse takes over from the health visitor, once children reach the age of 5 (Foundation 2 year). Your child will automatically be transferred between the teams but it is worth remembering to contact the new school nurse if your child moves between schools. Each school has a school nurse and their role is to work closely with pupils, school staff and parents/carers. They carry out screening programmes in school, advise and aid with management of medical conditions, offer support and advice on a range of issues and can be a key point of contact to complete assessments for paediatricians with parents/carers and school staff in the school setting. You can ask your school for the school nurses’ contact details and you can arrange to have an appointment with the school nurse in school to discuss any concerns.
SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator)
All mainstream schools must appoint one of their teachers to be their SENCO. They are then responsible for co-ordinating additional support for all pupils with special educational needs. They will be the person who passes information between the teachers, other professionals and parents. It is the SENCO who will request the educational psychologist to become involved if necessary and other external services (e.g. speech and language therapy) for children receiving support on ‘school based plans’. The SENCO should work with class teachers to develop effective methods and strategies to help overcome barriers to a child’s learning and ensure they receive the most effective teaching by making sure their needs are assessed appropriately and focus on developing targets which reflect the child’s needs and potential.
A Social Worker is trained to provide support and advice for parents and families. Social Workers may contribute Welfare Advice to the development of an EHC plan.
Specialist teachers provide outreach input into nurseries and schools (and homes for younger children as appropriate). They will have experience in teaching children in specialist areas such as dyslexia, hearing impairment/deafness or visual impairment. This teacher may help your child directly or may support/give advice to their teachers in school.
Speech and Language Therapist
A Speech and Language Therapist is trained to assess, diagnose, manage and treat speech and language difficulties. They also provide support and advice for parents and schools. Speech and Language Therapists may inform Individual Education Plans and contribute to education health care plans.
Wirral SEND Partnership
Wirral SEND Partnership offer advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs. They are statutory services - this means there has to be one in every local authority, however what they provide varies from area to area. Their role is to provide a service which is free, impartial and confidential. They provide information, advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with SEN, however they cannot provide support around health services see Independent supporters for support across all areas. "The overall aim [of Wirral SEND Partnership] is to provide a menu of flexible services for parents whose children have SEN in order to empower them to play an active and informed role in their child's education" (DfES, SEN Toolkit).