Part of
What SEND professionals do

These are some of the people who may be working with you

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Part of
What SEND professionals do

These are some of the people who may be working with you


Key roles in SEND

An overview of key professionals supporting you

Education RolesHealth rolesSocial care roles

Other professionals

More people who may be involved

A to Z of people working within SEND

Professionals working together

Understanding the meetings that people who support you may attend

Multi-agency meetings


There are lots of people you may need to see occasionally who work or volunteer within a very specific part of SEND or related services.

Some of these people may work with just the frontline professionals. You may hear them mentioned by your teacher or SENCO, GP or social worker, many will need a referral from another professional to access them. They have been grouped alphabetically, and you can find further information about what that service is or how to access it by following the links.

A to C

From Advisory teachers to Clinical psychologists

Advisory teachers – specialist advisory teachers support schools and SENCOs, children and young people and their families. They are experienced professionals, who offer bespoke advice and guidance for students in a Somerset education setting with a need defined by their specialism. This includes assessment and review and support with transitions, as well as training. There are several types of specialism and advisory teachers can be found in teams like Access to Inclusion Team, Hearing Support Team (advisory teachers here are also known as Qualified Teachers of the Deaf (QToD) and work with Educational Audiologists), Vision Support Team (also known as Qualified Teacher of Visual Impairments (QTVI)), Access and Assistive Technology Team (previously known as PIMS and SENATAS), Early Years Area SENCOs, Virtual School and Ethnic Minority Achievement Service.

Access Casework Officer (ACWO or ACO) – act as the first point of contact for headteachers, Governors, Clerks, other professionals, parents and pupils for advice on the processes for excluding pupils from the school and seeking alternatives to exclusion. This includes the graduated response and training. The ACWO also prepare the local authority responses to School Governors Disciplinary Committees (GDC) and Independent Review Panels and prepare and deliver statutory cases to partnership boards.

Advocate – speaks on your behalf and represents your interests, especially in formal situations or when you don’t feel very confident. An advocate can’t make decisions about treatment or care, but the decision-maker must consider any information the advocate gives them.

Appointee – has permission to act for a young person in everything to do with benefit claims. If a young person claims benefits in their own right and is not able to manage this even with the support they can have an appointee. To become an appointee you need to contact the relevant benefit department.

Appropriate Adult – supports either a juvenile or a vulnerable adult detainee to make sure that the detained person understands what is happening to them and why.

Art Therapist – uses art as a medium to express and communicate to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing. They need to be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council.

Assessment and Reviewing Officer (ARO) – coordinates the statutory needs assessment process and Education Health and Care plans. More detail in the educational professionals section.

Attorney – helps you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf, called Power of Attorney. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions (you ‘lack mental capacity’). Any decision made by the attorney must be made in your best interests. They need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Audiologist – tests hearing, advises on hearing care and where necessary supplies and fits hearing aids and other communication devices.

Bus buddy – see Independent Travel Trainer

Care assistants or care workers – support people who have difficulties with daily activities. They may help with personal care such as washing or dressing, or with household tasks such as laundry and shopping. If you qualify for direct payments you may be able to use these to employ your own care assistant, which is often known as a personal assistant.

Chiropodist – see a podiatrist

Class teacher – responsible and accountable for the progress and development of children and young people in their class, using approaches appropriate to the child or young person’s needs. More detail in educational professionals section.

Clinical pharmacists – manage repeat prescriptions and changes to prescriptions after hospital assessments, found in some GP practices.

Clinical psychologists – assess and help with children’s psychological functioning, emotional wellbeing and development.

Community Children’s Nurse – see nurses

D to G

From Dentist to General Practitioners

Dentist – check your oral health, and any risk of future disease, and advise you on the care and treatment you need to make sure you have good oral health. Your dentist may refer you to the Dental Access Centres which treat patients with additional needs who cannot reasonably access dental care through general dental services. They have teams of dentists, therapists, hygienists, dental nurses and non-clinical administrative staff that provide dental care.

Deputy – you can apply to become someone’s deputy if they ‘lack mental capacity’. This means they cannot make a decision for themselves at the time it needs to be made. They may still be able to make decisions for themselves at certain times.

Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) / Designated Medical Officer (DMO) – a point of contact for local authorities, schools and colleges seeking health information or queries about health provision for children and young people with SEND. They are not involved in assessments or planning for individuals but are responsible for ensuring that assessment, planning and health support are carried out. Key role in working with health services to ensure good quality contributions to the Education, Health and Care Plan process. The DCO comes from a paediatric therapist background and the DMO comes from a community paediatrician background.

Designated Teacher – helps school staff to understand the things which affect how looked after children learn and achieve. The designated teacher has a key role in making sure there is a central point of initial contact within the school who can manage the process of how the school engages with others (e.g. social workers, virtual school heads), works in a joined up way and minimises disruption to the child’s education. They develop and implement the child’s Personal Education Plan (PEP).

Dietitians – offer advice and support for special dietary needs (including food allergies and intolerances) and health conditions (such as faltering growth, feeding problems, fussy eating and weight management). They also provide advice and support to those who are tube fed.

Early Years SENCOs / Inclusion Advisers – provide advice, practical support and training for Early Years providers to identify and support children with special educational needs. More detail in the educational professionals section.

Educational Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs) – offer short-term support to children and young people who are having difficulties with things like anxiety, worries and low mood. EMHPs can help children, young people and their parent’s carers to learn new skills to make changes and help themselves to feel better. They also offer support to parents and carers of primary age children up to age 12, through parenting and parent led Low Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (LICBT).

Educational Psychologist (EP) – assesses children and young people to understand their strengths, identify any special educational needs, and work with key adults to tackle challenges. More detail in the educational professionals section.

Education Safeguarding Service Officer (ESS Officer, previously known as Education Welfare Officer EWO and Education Safeguarding Advisor) – monitors attendance-based data in schools to give support and where necessary, challenge. Their main focus is to ensure schools explore and exhaust all early help options assuming that ‘poor attendance is the symptom of another issue’. They can start legal interventions against families where attendance remains an issue. Monitors and investigates Children Missing Education. Also responsible for Elective Home Education monitoring and visits.

Family Doctor – see General Practitioner (GP)

Family Intervention Worker – visits the family and provides support and services including practical assistance in the home and parenting support and guidance. More detail in the social care professionals section.

Family Intervention Service worker – works with families experiencing complex needs. More detail in the social care professionals section

Family therapists – work with children and their families together, to help them understand and manage the difficulties that are happening in their lives.

Front Door Family Practitioner – triage all the Early Help Assessments where they are requesting support from the Family Intervention Service. They speak to all involved to understand the current concerns and difficulties being experienced and identify if support can be implemented by FIS. More detail in the social care professionals section.

General Practitioners (GPs) – treat all common medical conditions for all ages and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services. More detail in the health professionals section. Doctors will also have different titles depending on their rank or level of training – this is explained on the BMA website.

H to M

From Habilitation Specialist to Mental Health Support Workers

Habilitation Specialist – teaches a child or young person with visual impairment the knowledge, skills and strategies essential for independent living. A full programme includes mobility, orientation, route learning and living skills such as dressing, cooking and shopping. They are based within the Vision Support Team.

Headteacher – ensure the school works effectively to identify the additional needs and SEN of children and young people, providing support and adaptation where appropriate. More detail in the educational professional’s section.

Health Care Assistants (HCAs) – support nurses and doctors in GP practices and hospitals, for example, doing blood tests, blood pressure checks, ear syringing (less commonly now) or dressings.

Health Coaches – help you gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to improve your health and wellbeing and self-management of conditions. Nobody knows you better than you know yourself, and everyone is capable of making positive changes in their lives. Together they explore what is important for your life and wellbeing, identify the local activities and services you can benefit from and help and encourage you to use them. Ask your GP practice about the provision of Health Coaches in your area.

Health Visitor – support a baby or young child’s health, wellbeing and development. More detail is in the health professionals section.

Health and Wellbeing Coaches (SASP) – support people with long term conditions to access physical activity to protect their health.

Independent Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (ISRO or IRO) – quality assure the care planning process for each child or young person in care, to make sure that their current wishes and feelings are listened to and acted upon. This includes chairing the review meetings of children who are looked after and checking the progress of care plans in between.

Independent Travel Trainers – trains students aged 14 plus with SEND to use a bus route. First, they travel the walking route to the bus stop and bus journey, to make the student comfortable and reduce anxiety. Then they step down to shadowing then keep regular contact when independently travelling.

Inclusion Manager – responsible for organising provision for all children in a school who have particular needs not only SEND. Examples could be children whose first language is not English or children whose families have social care involvement. The SENCO may take on this role.

Intervention Teacher – assists students who are experiencing difficulties in the classroom. More detail in the educational professional’s section.

Job Coach – support you to do your job confidently and efficiently. They help in many ways, depending on what help you need. They could give you support and help you through your first day at work. They could help you learn new tasks, with training or your work induction. Your job coach will stay with you for as long as you need them and they’ll fade away as your need for them lessens. They can return if necessary.

LEGO therapy facilitator – uses LEGO activities to support the development of a wide range of communication and social skills within a group setting.

Mediator – an independent facilitator helping those in dispute to reach agreements. The mediator asks questions, clarifies and sometimes challenges what is being said by both sides. The focus is on what is best for the child or young person, whose views are included and discussed. The mediator is impartial and does not judge, take sides or impose decisions. It is for the parties themselves to try and find solutions together. If an agreement is reached, this is written up and signed in the meeting.

Mental health support workers – support patients with mental health problems, found in some doctor’s surgeries (GPs).

N to O

From Nurses to Orthopaedic Surgeon


  • Community Children’s Nurse – work with children with complex healthcare conditions needing nursing support. They will help you and your child become experts in your child’s condition and management. To work with you in reducing or preventing hospital admission. Children are referred via a hospital, a consultant or a similar professional.
  • Nurse practitioners – nurses who have undergone further training to cover a variety of more specialised roles. Some nurse practitioners will deal with acute medical presentations including childhood illnesses. They will have had specific training in these areas. Some nurse practitioners are able to prescribe. Nurse practitioners can be found in GP practices and in accident and emergency and minor injuries units.
  • Practice nurses – These are usually adult trained nurses employed by the GP practices to look after long-term conditions, and perform certain procedures such as immunisations or cervical smears. Their only role in looking after children is the provision of childhood immunisations and the management of asthma. They will do wound dressing, stitches removal, injections and other common tasks.
  • School nurses – do routine health checks and give healthcare advice and support to 5 to 19 year olds in schools, as educated at home. More detail in the health professionals section.
  • Specialist nurses – work in a variety of acute and community settings, specialising in a particular area of practice. For example; ADHD, asthma, cardiac liaison, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, epilepsy, oncology outreach, paediatric continence, renal, respiratory, stoma and vaginal nerve stimulator devices (VNS).
  • Learning disability nurses – often part of a wider care team who work with people with learning disabilities to help them become as independent as possible.

Occupational Therapist (OT) – helps children and young people and their families to maximise participation in daily activities. OT from health can support the development of everyday skills through special exercises, and new ways to do the task, and OT from social care and education can assess the need for special equipment or environmental adaptations. More detail in the health professionals and social care professionals section.

Ophthalmologist – Doctors with a special interest in disorders of the eye.

Orthotist – design and fit ‘orthosis’ and surgical appliances such as braces, callipers, to correct or prevent deformity from spine to foot.

Orthoptist – investigates, diagnose and treat defects of binocular vision and abnormalities.

Orthopaedic Surgeon – Doctors with a special interest in disorders of bones and joints.


From Paediatric Liaison Health Visitors to Psychotherapists

Paediatric Liaison Health Visitors – Health visitors based at Hospitals who are children’s nurse-trained and have specialist knowledge of children’s conditions.

Paediatricians – Doctors with a special interest in developmental and learning difficulties coordinate the care of children with these problems. More detail is in the health professionals section. Doctors will also have different titles depending on their rank or level of training – this is explained on the BMA website.

Palliative Care Team – Health professionals specialising in the control of symptoms where curative treatments are not possible.

Paramedics – Paramedics can respond to emergency calls to stabilise patients and get them to a treatment centre like a hospital. But also many doctors surgeries (GPs) now employ paramedics to see acutely unwell patients and identify those that need further treatment or investigations. They will often deal with ‘same day’ patients that have self-identified as needing to be seen urgently. Many children will present with acute same day presentations and so will be seen by paramedics. They are often able to prescribe and work independently.

Parent and Family Support Advisors (PFSAs) – work with school-aged children and their families that need extra support to happily attend school and engage in their learning. More detail in the educational professional’s section.

Personal Assistant (PA) – see care assistant

Pharmacists – dispense medicines, and can give advice about improving your health and wellbeing. They may do some screening tests such as blood pressure or cholesterol measuring, and immunisations such as flu. They may run stop-smoking services, including prescribing appropriate nicotine replacement therapy. They will speak to patients about the best way to take their medicines, any issues to watch out for and check for possible interactions with other medicines you may be taking.

Physiotherapist – helps with children’s movement skills and physical mobility. More detail is in the health professionals section.

Play therapist – help children to make sense of difficult life experiences, or complex psychological issues through play.  They are encouraged to be registered with the Register of Play and Creative Arts Therapists.

Podiatrist – diagnose and treat abnormal conditions of the feet and lower limbs. They also prevent and correct deformity, keep people mobile and active, relieve pain and treat infections.

Practice Nurses – see nurses

Prosthetist – see Orthotist

Psychiatrists – Doctors with specialist qualifications in diagnosing and treating people with mental health problems.

Psychotherapists – they are trained therapists who work with children helping to deal with their emotional and mental health problems

R to Z

From Restorative workers to Virtual Head

Restorative workers – work with young people aged 10 to 18 who have been arrested by the police for a crime and their families and carers, helping reparation by working with victims of the young people concerned, and their communities. Restorative practice is a way of working with conflict that puts the focus on repairing the harm that has been done.

SENDIAS Officer or Support Worker – offer impartial, information, advice and support based on SEND law and the SEND Code of Practice to Children & Young People 0 – 25 with SEND.

Senior Assessment and Reviewing Officer (SARO) – see Assessment and Reviewing Officer (ARO).

Social workers – help children and families needing extra support or help to keep them safe. More detail in the social care professionals section.

Speech and Language Therapist (SLT or SALT) – diagnose and treat problems of understanding, communication and speaking, and can also help with swallowing and eating difficulties. More detail is in the health professionals section.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) – a teacher responsible for the specific support for the children and young people with SEND – day-to-day operation of the school’s SEND Policy. More detail in the educational professional’s section.

Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) Governor – school governing bodies should have a member of the board with specific oversight for the school’s SEN arrangements, including ensuring there is a suitably qualified teacher designated as SENCO. They will help review the schools’ policy on provision for children and young people with SEND and their approach to meeting the needs of those with SEND, and ensure that the school website publishes their SEN offer and links to the Local Offer. They will meet with the SENCO on a regular basis and ensure the school’s notional SEN budget is appropriately allocated to support children and young people with SEN. They ensure that SEN duties are undertaken effectively across the organisation including but not limited to identification of needs, responding to SEN, a broad and balanced curriculum, record keeping of SEN provision and engagement and participation for all children and young people. The precise responsibilities of the SEND Governor need to be determined by the governing board and so will vary from school to school.

Somerset Supporter – provides assistance for spending time with friends, peer groups or social activities. Support setting up access to leisure activities and assist in developing independence, choice and control.

Specialist Nurse – see Nurses

Specialist Teacher – see Advisory Teacher

Teacher – see Classroom Teacher or Intervention Teacher or Advisory Teacher

Teaching Assistant – provides support to the class teacher and supports the learning of children with SEND through whole class, small group or one-to-one basis. More detail is in the educational professional section.

Tertiary specialists – This refers to doctors based in major specialist units. These can be located anywhere in the UK as different hospitals specialise in different conditions. Most commonly people from the southwest will link to Bristol Children’s Hospital or Southampton. Doctors will also have different titles depending on their rank or level of training – this is explained on the BMA website.

Trustee – A trustee is a person who takes responsibility for managing money or assets that have been set aside in a trust for the benefit of someone else (the beneficiary). The beneficiary will be too young or have a disability which means they can’t manage their own affairs. As a trustee, you must use the money or assets in the trust only for the beneficiary’s benefit. Everything you do as a trustee must be done in the beneficiary’s best interests. Exactly what you can and can’t do as a trustee might be set out in detail in the trust agreement.

Village and Community Agents – provide confidential, practical community-based solutions for you. Your local CCS Village Agent can be contacted directly, or by referral through your Doctors surgery. CCS Community Agents can only be contacted by a referral from your doctors or Adult Social Care Services. Village Agents run Talking Cafes on any topic – finance, health, housing and more.

Virtual School Head – The virtual school is not a ‘real’ school with buildings and classrooms, it aims to do the very best we can to help all Somerset Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children as well as children and young people with a social worker; enjoy education and succeed in the real schools and colleges they attend. The Virtual School Head in Somerset leads the Vulnerable Learners to work within Inclusion Somerset; this includes the work of the Virtual School team as they liaise with Designated Teachers, Social Workers, and other agencies and organisations, giving advice and helping to make sure Personal Education Plans (PEPs) for LAC are thoughtful and will aid progress.

Last reviewed: December 7, 2023 by Gemma

Next review due: June 7, 2024

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