If your child has additional support needs, several different professionals may be involved at different times during their pre-school and school years. This might be by helping to identify and assess your child’s needs, as well as providing them with the support they need to get the most from their education.
If lots of different professionals are involved, as part of the Scottish Government’s Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) framework, a lead professional should be appointed to make sure you, and everyone else, has a single point of contact.
Your child may have support from some or all of the following professionals:
A pre-school home visiting teacher may visit your child at home to support their development.
Class/subject teachers will work with your child on a daily basis to assess their development and provide them with support. This support could be through things such as making adaptations to the curriculum for your child and communicating with them in a way that meets their needs.
An educational psychologist might be involved in identifying what additional support needs your child has, and what things will help them to learn to the best of their abilities. They might provide advice or training to your child’s teacher(s) or other support staff so that they can provide additional support to your child.
Learning support staff may work closely with your child’s teacher or with your child individually or in small groups in class. They may also be involved in assessing what kind of additional support your child might need.
Learning assistants/additional support needs assistants may provide individual support to your child and may also help class teachers in the classroom.
Behaviour support staff may be available to help support your child if they are struggling to manage their behaviour. They may use various behaviour management techniques that can be adapted for use in class and at home.
A specialist teacher may provide support to your child if they have a specific learning need, such as a hearing or visual impairment, or if their first language is not English.
An outreach teacher might provide support to your child if they are not well enough or not able to attend school.
An education officer with responsibility for additional support for learning who works at your local authority might be involved in helping get the right support in place for your child in some situations. This could include if your child needs support from several agencies, if they need more support than the school is able to provide, or if you are considering making a placing request to another school. They might also become involved if you have any disagreements with your child’s school, if you ask for an assessments of your child’s needs, or if your child has a co-ordinated support plan (CSP).
If your child has a CSP there may also be a CSP Co-ordinator whose responsibility it is to co-ordinate action and make sure support is put in place as agreed. This may be the same person as the Lead Professional.
Health and social work professional often play an important role in supporting children's learning. Your child may be supported by:
A health isvitor is a registered nurse who will give advice and information about healthcare and child development when your child is very young, sometimes by visiting you at home.
A school nurse can advise on a wide range of health issues and may act as an important link between home and school if action is needed to make sure your child is healthy and well.
An occupational therapist may work with your child if they need help with practical skills necessary for day-to-day life. They can provide therapy to help your child develop strategies and skills, and can also advise you and school staff on things you can do in school and at home that can help your child to be as physically, psychologically and socially independent as possible.
A physiotherapist may help your child if they have physical support needs, such as reduced mobility or if they are recovering from an illness or injury. They can provide physical intervention, advice and information to help your child be physically fit, independent and well.
A speech and language therapist may work directly with your child if they find it difficult to communicate. They can also advise teachers on how best to meet your child’s communication needs.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Teams might provide help for your child if they are struggling with their mental health, for example by providing a course of therapy. They are made up of a group of different healthcare professionals such as psychologists. CAMHS Teams are also often involved in assessments for certain conditions, such as autism or ADHD.
Social workers may provide a range of support to your child or to your whole family. If there is a social worker involved with your child, it is likely that they will be involved in deciding what kind of additional support your child needs at school, as they may be aware of situations outside school that could affect their ability to learn or cope with being at school.
A worker from a voluntary organisation might provide support to your child outside of school, such as help to access social activities or to deal with a difficult family situation. In some situations it might be helpful for a worker from a voluntary organisation that is working with your child to attend planning meetings.
An advocacy worker might work with your child to help them express their views to the adults that are working with them.
From 2018 every child in Scotland will have entitlement to a Named Person. Although this doesn't come into law until next year some local authorities' are already using the Named Person model.
A Named Person is a single point of contact who can work with a child and their family to arrange additional help, advice or support if they need it. Depending on a child’s age, their Named Person might be a health visitor, head teacher, or another senior teacher. The Named Person service is anticipated to be rolled out nationally by Autumn 2018.
- ask professionals working with your child to explain their role
- ask them what their input will be with your child
- ask which professionals will be meeting your child
- if you can think your child may need input from a professional not involved with your child, ask the school about their possible involvement or how to make a referral.
Possible conversation starters:
- I understand that an Educational Psychologist is going be assessing my child, can what they will be doing?
- I’m worried about my child’s behaviour. Are there specialist staff that could help her?
- Could you tell my how I can make a referral to speech and language therapy?