There is a large range of external professionals who may work with a school on a regular basis; these include:
Educational Psychologists: they use their specialist skills in psychological and educational assessment techniques to help children and young people having difficulties in learning, behaviour or social issues. Much of their work is with children/young adults aged 0-19 years, in pre-school and at maintained and special schools. An educational psychologist (EP) needs to be trained in child development, the psychology of learning and teaching, children and young people’s emotional wellbeing and the psychological aspects of educating children with special educational needs. In fact, they are usually allocated through the local special educational needs department and support the SENCO by doing observations and making assessments each year to plan the provision for the children who have special educational needs and disabilities. However, they also maintain relationships as well as assessments, problem solving and counselling, making recommendations for work with individual parents and leading the meetings with them. All educational psychologists must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and carry out continued professional development.
Speech and Language Therapists: usually a speech and language therapist (SLT) visits the school one day a week and deliver several individual therapy sessions to children on that day, in a designated room away from the classroom. In general, a speech and language therapist will assess and treat children and adults with specific speech, language and communication problems to enable them to communicate to the best of their ability. The SLT needs to take into consideration: the difficulty producing or using speech and the difficulty understanding or using language. An SLT works directly with the client and provides support to them and their carers: as allied health professionals they work closely with parents, carers and other professionals, including teachers, nurses and occupational therapists. According to Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), there are around 13.000 practising SLTs in the UK and around 2,5 million people in the UK have a speech or language difficulty:
5% of children enter school with difficulties in speech and language;
30% of stroke sufferers have a speech and language disorder.
Receiving speech and language therapy in school means that a child/young person needs less time away from lessons than they would for a clinic session. Parents will be asked to complete a referral questionnaire and consent form prior to their child seeing a therapist.
Specialist Teachers: schools and colleges can involve a specialist at any point to advise them on early identification of special educational needs and effective support and interventions. Specialist teachers are primary and secondary teachers who have a specific knowledge expertise in a particular field, such as special education, career advising, school counselling, teacher librarianship and teaching English as a second language (ESL).
A specialist teacher can provide training for teachers, college tutors and other professionals on evidenced-based and effective teaching approaches, appropriate equipment, strategies and interventions to support the child’s or young person’s development.
A specialist should always be involved when a pupil continues to make little or no progress over a long period of time or where they continue to work at levels substantially below those expected of pupils of a similar age. The school needs to set out in their SEN Information Report what support is available from different services and how it may be accessed.
Educational Welfare officers: the purpose of the Education Welfare is for every child to have an equal opportunity to access educational provision and to ensure that parents meet their parental responsibilities under various Education Acts. The Education Welfare Service (EWS) works closely with schools and other statutory and voluntary agencies to promote, encourage and enforce regular school attendance of children of compulsory school age, supporting schools in dealing with cases of persistent unauthorised absence. Therefore, the main aim of the Education Welfare Officer (also known as Educational Social worker) is to help children attend school full-time and support pupils and parents in resolving issues which may be affecting the child’s wish to attend school. A plan needs to be agreed in consultation with all the parties involved and the Education Welfare Officer will stay involved until the aim has been achieved; in case this is not achieved the Education Welfare Service may have to consider legal proceedings. Education Welfare Officers can accept referrals or enquiries from educational settings or other agencies, parents and members of the public in case a child is not attending school. It is the school and not parents who should decide whether a pupil’s absence should be authorised or not. In fact, parents should provide a reason for the child’s absence, but it is for the school to consider whether the reason provided by the parent is an acceptable and valid one.
Schools Improvement Partner: they work alongside the local education authority. A school improvement partner (SIP) provides professional support to a number of schools maintained by one or more authorities by acting as a critical professional “friend” to the schools, helping their leadership to evaluate the schools’ performances, identify priorities for improvement and plan effective change, helping build the schools’ capacity to improve pupils’ achievement; and providing challenge and support for the senior school leadership team. The SIP function is the same regardless of the phase or type of school to which a SIP is deployed. However, how SIPs carry out this function, and the support that they can expect from local authorities, regional networks and National Frameworks, may vary according to the nature of the school setting. SIPs need specific knowledge and experience. These include a familiarity with the strategies and techniques in assessing the wide range of individual learning needs; the ability to interrogate pupils’ performance data, considering the knowledge of the pupils’ needs and nature of the school; and a familiarity with the different range of evidence and pupils’ attainment data, which includes an awareness of the impact of specific learning needs and behaviours.