Specialist Learning Support (SpLSS) Service

The Specialist Learning Support Service is a jointly funded service between health and education that supports children and young people with complex health needs to receive education. We are part of the Sensory & Physical Service, which is in turn part of the Specialist Education Service.

Who do we support?

We support children and young people (CYP) with complex medical conditions who are reliant upon technology (for example non-invasive ventilation, tracheostomy, oxygen therapy) to enable their inclusion in mainstream and special schools. This is achieved by the provision of professionally supported trained adult(s) to safely and competently meet their medical needs.

The Service supports children and young people from the ages of 2 1/2 to 19 in the East and West of Suffolk, covering Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB) https://suffolkandnortheastessex.icb.nhs.uk/

For information about how to access support for children and young people with complex health needs in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area, visit Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System https://improvinglivesnw.org.uk/

All children and young people who access the SpLSA Service meet the Continuing Care criteria. Many, but not all, have an Education, Health and Care Plan or EHCP.

What support do we offer?

We provide a trained Specialist Learning Support Assistant to support a child or young person on a 1:1 basis to ensure their medical needs are met in school.  SpLSA training and support is provided by children’s nurses called Care Coordinators. The service can also provide educational support in the home when pupils are unable to attend school due to their medical condition.

We can provide support on Suffolk County Council home to school transport if needed provided the child or young person meets the criteria for Specialist Learning Support Service involvement.

When a new child or young person is referred, we may undertake some sessions at home in partnership with parents before starting at school. When supporting within the home, we offer 3 morning or afternoon sessions a week of 3 hours each. Here, the Specialist LSA would follow an individual based curriculum, record the work that the pupil has done and take it back to the teacher at their school. 

How long a Specialist LSA works with a child or young person for varies. We regularly review whether we are still the appropriate service for the individual.

Specialist LSAs also attend Annual Review or Child in Need meetings if necessary.

The service invites parents to be involved in the SpLSA health intervention training and includes their feedback when assessing staff competency, which is reassessed every year. We invite children and young people and their families to evaluate the service they receive on a regular basis.

Referral process

Who can make a referral to the SpLSA Service?

Children and young people are usually referred to the service by a health professional or their school. If you are a parent/carer and you are worried that your child’s health needs are not being met in school and feel that they may need support from this service, you should talk to your Community Nursing Team or school and discuss with them whether a referral to the Specialist LSA Service should be considered.

If you are a health or education professional wishing to make a referral, you should fill in the Specialist Learning Support Service Referral Form and email it to [email protected].

What happens when we receive a referral?

Once referred, each individual child or young person is discussed at the monthly Continuing Care Panel, usually held on the second Wednesday of each month, and decisions are made on a case by case basis. 

Referral Pathway

Specialist Learning Support Service

  • Referral can be made by any health professional involved in the child/young person’s care (community children’s nursing team, consultant, children’s learning disability nursing team and school nurses).
  • Referral can also be from education or social care, via the Inclusion Service Referral form and Health Appendix.  However, prior to this, the Continuing Care Assessment needs to have been undertaken by a health professional.
  • The referrer must communicate with Headteacher of the current setting to confirm that the child/young person is on the school roll. The referrer needs to ensure that the school is supportive of the referral process and is aware of the cost of the service and how to seek additional funding.
  • The referrer is required to liaise with the Care Co-ordinator to ensure there is enough information available to be able to be able to make an informed decision and process the referral.
  • The referrer needs to be aware that there may be a delay in delivery of the service if recruitment and training is necessary.
  • Application form and continuing care assessments should be mailed to [email protected] and to the Care Co-ordinators (email address below) no less than three weeks prior to panel meetings, which are usually held on the second Wednesday of each month.

 What happens next?

Once the panel have discussed the referral the outcomes will either be:

  • Meets criteria
  • Doesn’t meet criteria
  • Assessment pathway initiated to provide more detailed information for panel members
  • the Care Co-ordinator will contact the referrer to let them know the outcome.  The referrer will then contact the family to let them know the panel’s decision, and a letter reflecting the outcome will also be sent to the parent/carer

The Care Co-Ordinators can be contacted at [email protected].

Review process

Every case is reviewed annually at the monthly Children’s Complex Case Panel meeting alongside the Continuing Care Review.

If a child / young person’s health status has not improved or stabilised, we continue specialist learning support until the next review.

If a child / young person’s health status has improved or stabilised, we consider whether they now meet the criteria for:

a) Continuing Care

b) Specialist learning support

If specialist learning support is no longer required, our Care Co-Ordinators will work jointly with the child’s school to support their transition back into school.

You can read more about our review process here.