Who’s who: professionals supporting your child
We know that there are lots of different people who might be involved in your child’s care and support. Below we’ve explained more about what some different types of professionals do.
An educational psychologist can work with your child, you and others to help everyone better understand, assess and support your child in their learning and development. They have a wide range of duties that can include helping the local authority assess your child’s additional support needs. They can also advise and support schools and nurseries to develop strategies to better support your child’s learning.
Read more in our blog What’s their role? Educational psychologists.
Pupil support assistant (may have different names, like Additional Support Needs Assistant)
Gives your child extra help in class, or with other things like getting around the school or nursery, or communicating with others.
Speech and language therapist (SaLT)
A healthcare professional who can work with your child, you and others if your child has difficulties with communication, eating, drinking or swallowing. Speech and language therapists can be involved in supporting your child with language delay, stammering, social interaction difficulties, selective mutism and more.
They have a wide range of duties like helping the local authority assess children’s additional support needs, providing advice and training to you and others including school or nursery staff, and in some instances providing specialist therapy directly to your child.
Read more in our blog, Understanding speech and language therapy.
Occupational therapist (OT)
A healthcare professional who can work with your child, you and others if your child has difficulties with the practical and social skills necessary for everyday life. They will try to help your child be as physically, psychologically and socially independent as possible. That includes helping your child get the right support and equipment to join in fully in school or nursery life.
A psychologist is a professional concerned with the mind and how people think, behave, learn, feel, remember and more.
A clinical psychologist can work with your child, you and others to help everyone better understand, assess, and treat your child if they have a mental or physical health issue. Clinical psychologists can be involved in supporting your child with anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and relationship issues. Some clinical psychologists have specialist experience, for example in supporting children with brain injuries.
Advocacy worker / Advocate
Someone who can help you or your child share your views. Some advocates can speak or act on your or your child’s behalf at meetings with the school or local authority.
Our website for children and young people, Reach, has info about advocacy that might be helpful for your child: Advocacy – help to use your rights and have your say at school.
Guidance or Pastoral care teacher
Guidance teachers, sometimes called pastoral care or personal support teachers, help pupils through their time at secondary school. Their role is to help look out for your child’s wellbeing, giving guidance and support. They can support them with things like planning their learning, and can talk to them about worries they have or help sort out problems at school.
Social workers can help with making sure that your child and the family have the support they need at home. This can include support for disabled children and their families. Social workers will also be involved in supporting children who are currently ‘looked after’, for example if they’re in foster or residential care, or are looked after at home or by kinship carers.
If the school mentions that they are going to involve another professional and you aren’t sure what this means for your child, it’s always ok to ask them to explain what the person’s role is, and how they think they will help your child.
If there’s someone you think should be involved but you don’t know how to go about arranging this, start by asking the school. They can refer on to many other professionals.
You can also request assessments of your child’s needs directly to your local authority, and some health services you can refer to yourself or through your GP. Our page Identifying and assessing your child’s needs explains more about this.