Last updateMon, 28 Jan 2013 9pm

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Road Map

Going down the EDUCATION ROUTE (children) - first steps.



Please note this article is UK specific. But we would be delighted to hear from anyone outside the UK with their stories and their routes of diagnosis and support! Do let us know what is happening in your part of the world. For adults and adolescents please read article on ‘ADULT/ADOLESCENT NEEDING DIAGNOSIS – HELP’ (Part 3)

So let’s get down to it! You are reading how to go down the educational route – for a number of reasons I suspect maybe:

  1. Which route to take, make up your mind time?
  2. Maybe you have taken this route and have got a bit lost! – help!
  3. It’s out of your hands, Education have approached YOU!
  4. You are not aware of any other route.

For those of you think this could be a short cut? Wrong it isn’t! This route is filled with just as many pit holes as the Health route. But hey you may be more comfortable with one route more than the other. It really is six of one and half a dozen of the other, there is no difference in difficultly! Sorry to burst your bubble.



So here is the mystery taken out of some of the people you may bump into along this path. You may not meet ALL of them and each pathway could be different according to where you live. Let’s explore. Prepare again for a long arduous journey. Nothing is ever simple. Oh and apologies if I left anyone out! Please Jelibean know and we will be sure to include you – it’s a big department as I am sure you will soon find out J


A head teacher or school principal is the most senior teacher and leader of a school. The head teacher also has overall responsibility for Special Educational Needs. The head teacher also is responsible for the overall running of the school and is responsible to the Governors. It will take approximately 8 – 10yrs of training at graduate and post graduate level combined with experience to become a head teacher of a secondary school in the UK. For Primary school head teachers it will be less.


Teaching at primary or secondary stage will take approximately 3years at college/university followed by experience and further specialist courses if chosen. Positions of seniority will normally be applied for according to experience. Teachers only receive 4hrs maximum of training in Special Educational Needs.

SENCO – Special Needs Co-ordinator

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator: A teacher with responsibility for co-ordinating special needs support within a school. A SENCO is a trained teacher who has undergone specialist training. It will take approximately 5yrs of training and experience to become a SENCO at graduate and post graduate level. Qualifications for this post have only just been made mandatory.


A person working under the supervision of a certified teacher; a member of the educational team. A teaching assistant or educational assistant (often abbreviated to TA or EA; sometimes classroom assistant) in schools in England and Wales is a person who supports a teacher in the classroom. Duties can differ dramatically from school to school, though the underlying tasks often remain the same. Training varies depending on experience and level chosen. Higher Level Teaching Assistants will normally be trained to Diploma level. Some however may choose to take a graduate course.


A person who specialises in the mental and emotional development of children. Educational psychologists are often involved in supporting children at school who have special educational needs. A person who specialises in the mental and emotional development of children. Educational psychologists are often involved in supporting children at school who have special educational needs. This is a professional person who has a masters or doctorate degree in child and educational psychology. They will do various tests on your child and get a good understanding of all the mental and physical skills involved in learning. Time of training can be between 5 – 10yrs.


Education Welfare Officers (EWOs – sometimes known as Education Social Workers) work closely with schools and families to resolve attendance issues, arranging school and home visits as necessary. They support children and families when pupils are experiencing difficulties in school or welfare issues are disrupting a child’s education. In enforcing attendance, EWO’s have a variety of powers to help them ensure that children are properly educated. For example, an LA can serve a notice or school attendance order on a parent requiring the parent to register their child at school if the child is not getting a suitable education. Other duties include advising on child protection issues. Helping to arrange alternative educational provision for excluded pupils and preparing reports for pupils with special educational needs as part of the statementing process. It will take approximately 5yrs to become a EWO at graduate/post graduate level.


The Behaviour Support Teams work proactively to support children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties in school. They work mainly with children at Key Stage 1 and 2, and early Key Stage 3. Teams work particularly on issues arising when children transfer from one school to another. The Behaviour Support Team aims to support children by working with other teams/services already involved. The SEBD team will focus on providing early interventions and preventative work. They will aim to promote the development of positive learning environments at home and at school and support strategies for enhancing self-esteem and challenging behaviour. In the UK children with AD/HD diagnosed or undiagnosed, ODD will be seen by this team.


The Communication / Autism Team support Children, Young People, Families and Mainstream Schools to ensure that children and young people with a social communication difficulties including Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in mainstream schools access education. The team also offers support and advice to Parents / Cares and Families through Support Groups and deliver training and advice to mainstream schools and other agencies.
The team support children with a diagnosis of ASC, their families, and schools. As a multi disciplinary team they work with many different agencies so the child receives the best provision possible. Children with diagnosed Aspergers Syndrome and Autism will be seen by this time.


Parent Support Advisers (PSA) are part of the county’s locality teams and work in partnership with schools, and other professionals helping children and young people to get the best out of school.
PSAs do this by working with parents to build upon the best of what schools are already doing to enhance home-school relationship. Parent Support Advisers (PSA) are part of the county’s locality teams and work in partnership with schools, and other professionals helping children and young people to get the best out of school.
PSAs do this by working with parents to build upon the best of what schools are already doing to enhance home-school relationship. They act as a bridge between school and home. PSA’s are largely based within a school. They are usually professionals who undertake a further training.


Parent Partnership Services (PPS) are statutory services offering information advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN). PPS are also able to put parents in touch with other local and national organisations. PPS have a role in making sure that parents’ views are heard and understood and that these views inform local policy and practice. PPS are based with a voluntary organisation, with the Local Authority (LA) or Children’s Trust. PPS are free, impartial local services. PPS work directly with parents and carers of children and young people with SEN. PPS provide confidential information advice and support. PPS work in partnership with parents/carers, schools, the local authority and other agencies. PPS support parents to inform and influence local policy and practice. PPS enable parents and carers to make informed choices and decisions with confidence.

LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITIES – their role in all of this?

Local education authorities have responsibility of all state schools in their area. They organise funding for the schools, allocate the number of places available at each school and employ all teachers (except for foundation and voluntary aided schools, which, while still funded through the local authority, employ their own staff). Local education authorities are responsible for the funding of students in higher education (for example undergraduate courses and PGCE) whose permanent address is in their area, regardless of the place of study. Based on an assessment of individual circumstances they offer grants or access to student loans through the Student Loan Company. It is ultimately the LEA who takes the final decision as to whether a student is in need or requires a Statement of Special Educational Needs.


The Autism Outreach Team is part of the Specialist Support Service (SSS). This is part of the Children and Families Services within the Directorate for Children, Young People and Families. The Specialist Support Service works with children who have sensory, physical or communication difficulties. The aim of the Autism Outreach Team is to offer advice and training to schools supporting pupils with an autism spectrum disorder. The Team is made up of: Specially trained teachers who have experience of working with children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Qualified Communication Support Workers experienced in working with children who have an ASC. In addition a Specialist Educational Psychologist supports the work of the team. It should be noted that NOT ALL Local Authorities have teams such as this in place currently.

So you see there are a lot of departments out there. And to make matters worse, some of the departments you have read up on via the Health Route will also be involved. It is important to realise that in the UK, support and assessement is only really available for children in Primary School. Once they reach Secondary school there is little or zero support for those diagnosed or undiagnosed. But each LEA is different so please check in your area.

For parents who are encountering real problems and seem to be getting nowhere. Jelibean advises that you should consult

IPSEA - Independant Parental Special Education Advice

IPSEA is a charity providing free legally based advice to families who have children with special educational needs.

ACE - Advisory Centre for Education

Is a national charity that provides advice and information to parents and carers on a wide range of school based issues including exclusion, admissions, special education needs, bullying and attendance.