Who's who in schools?

At secondary school your child will have a range of teachers for different subjects on the timetable. Secondary schools organise pastoral support for pupils with special educational needs in different ways, and it is important to ask about this when you visit schools.

Governing Body - The governing body has responsibility for the standards and policies within schools. The governing body of every mainstream school is encouraged to have a special educational needs governor, who has an oversight of the school’s arrangements and provision for meeting special educational needs. All governing bodies include parent governors.

Headteacher - The headteacher has overall responsibility for running the school. The headteacher will be available to talk to parents at the open evening in the autumn term. He/she reports to the school’s governing body.

Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) - The title SENCo is not always used in secondary schools. It may be head of inclusion, director of inclusion or inclusion leader. The SENCo is responsible for the arrangements in school for children with special educational needs.

Head of Year - A head of year will oversee the support for a complete year group.

Form Tutor - A form tutor will have responsibility for the pastoral care of a class of pupils and will usually register pupils each day.

Teaching Assistant (TA)/Learning Support Assistant - Teaching assistants (TAs) work in different ways in different schools. In secondary schools most teaching assistants will work with a number of different pupils, either individually or in small groups, for different lessons. This is managed by the school.

Lead Practitioner - A lead practitioner supports you in coordinating the help you receive for your child. They may coordinate meetings, tell you where you can find things out and act as a contact point for other professionals. The lead practitioner could be any professional working with you such as a social worker, teacher, teaching assistant, specialist teacher or physiotherapist. You can approach any one of these professionals to ask them if they are able to be your lead practitioner. Alternatively, you may choose to take on this role yourself.

Parent Support Advisor (PSA) - Some schools have their own parent support advisor who may be able to provide information, signpost you to services, support your child’s transition into school and offer access to groups such as family learning.

School Nurse - Within secondary schools, school nurses provide a confidential weekly 'drop in' service for pupils to access should they need to discuss health issues. This incorporates a sexual health service. Pupils can access sexual health advice, be issued with condoms, emergency contraception and undertake pregnancy/chlamydia testing. School nurses also support schools to deliver aspects of the PHSE curriculum by delivering health education around sexual health, cancer awareness and healthy lifestyles (well woman, well man and stress management).

Specialist Teaching Teams – Autistic Spectrum Condition, Deaf & Hearing, Physical & Medical Needs, Vision Support, Hospital teaching

If your child is involved with a specialist teacher from one of these teams, then that involvement will continue when your child starts school. Your child will usually be seen in school but home visits can continue when necessary. You will always be kept informed of involvement with your child. The level of support and staff may change as your child moves through school, but you will be informed of any changes.

Related pages


York Family Information Service and Information Service for Young People

01904 554444 / 01904 555400


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