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Sensory Support Team

  • Levels of need
  • Support for pre-school children
  • Special Support Centres (SSCs)
  • Contact us
  • Supporting documents


Children with a sensory impairment in West Sussex, their families, schools and pre-schools are supported by the Sensory Support Team (SST) and by the Special Support Centres (SSCs) based in four of our mainstream schools. There is also specialist provision for children who are deafblind within one of the Special Schools.

The SST works closely with other agencies such as health and social care to ensure that children are given the level of specialist support to:

  • be healthy;
  • stay safe;
  • enjoy and achieve;
  • make a positive contribution; and
  • achieve economic wellbeing.

The Sensory Support Team is an advisory service that currently comprises:

  • 13 teachers who have specialist qualifications and/or experience in visual impairment, hearing impairment or multi-sensory impairment;
  • two specialist Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), who support school staff to develop their skills, for example, by teaching Braille, basic sign language and audiological (hearing aid, cochlear implant and radio aid) management; and
  • two Rehabilitation and Mobility Officers who work directly with visually impaired children and young people to support the development of mobility and cane skills where appropriate and independent living skills. The Mobility Officers can also provide Environmental Audits to schools where there is a child/young person with a visual impairment.

Levels of need

The vast majority of children with a sensory impairment attend their local mainstream provision in West Sussex and are supported by a visiting Advisory Teacher. Some of these children and young people will have Statements of Special Educational Need (SEN), while most will be supported through School Action Plus, with support and advice from the SST.

There are approximately 900 children and young people with sensory needs known to the SST, with over 500 receiving active support from this team. In the academic year 2009-2010, there were 178 new referrals, 131 for children with hearing impairment and 47 for children with visual impairment. Of these, 105 became ‘active’ and are currently supported in the home or educational placement.

Some children require a higher level of support from a specialist teacher on a daily basis or a provision that is highly tailored around their individual special needs. There are two Special Support Centres (SSCs) for primary aged children with a hearing impairment in West Sussex; Northgate Primary School, Crawley and Connaught Junior School in Littlehampton. The Teacher of the Deaf from Connaught School also supports children at Key Stage 1 at neighbouring Arun Vale Infants.

In September 2011 these two schools amalgamated to form a new school; River Beach Primary, and the SSC was redesigned and acoustically treated to accommodate these changes. At secondary level there are two mainstream schools with SSCs for children with Sensory Impairment; one at Hazelwick School in Crawley and another at The Angmering School.

Fordwater special school in Chichester provides for children with learning difficulties who are deafblind. The Sensory Support Team works closely with the teachers in charge of the SSCs to ensure that there is a county-wide ‘golden thread’ of support and provision to meet the needs of children with sensory impairment wherever they are at school.

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Support for pre-school children

The Sensory Support Team provides advice and support to families of children diagnosed with a sensory impairment using the early support principles of informed choice and family partnership working. We provide families with information, links to other support groups as well as practical advice and support ensuring that the whole family’s needs are taken into account.

Advisory Teachers make regular visits to pre-school children who have been identified with sensory impairment both in their homes and at nursery. Teachers of the Hearing Impaired are involved with families of newly diagnosed babies within 24 hours of diagnosis (part of the Quality Standards for the NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme). We also provide training for nursery/pre-school staff so that a child with a sensory impairment is able to develop language, independence and social skills, as well as being supported through the provision of specialist equipment, if appropriate. For example, the Advisory Teachers for Hearing Impairment will support parents of Early Years children with hearing impairment in establishing the use of hearing aids and in the monitoring of language development through the Monitoring Protocol for deaf babies and children.

Similarly, an Advisory Teacher for Visual Impairment would support the family in the use of the Developmental Journal to monitor milestones and progress in the development of skills and social interaction.

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Springboard pre-school groups

Springboard North and Springboard South West are pre-school groups for hearing impaired children supported by social care and the NDCS. These groups meet at Northgate Children and Family Centre, Crawley and at East Preston Children and Family Centre respectively. An Advisory Teacher is on hand to provide advice and audiological care. Springboard enables parents to meet each other and provides a support network for the families of babies and toddlers diagnosed through the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme or at pre-school age. Parents say they gain considerably by meeting other parents in similar circumstances and by being able to share their experiences.

Special Support Centres

The four SSCs in the county provide a higher level of support for children whose needs require daily input by a teacher of hearing or visually impaired children. Northgate and Connaught Schools both have planned places for primary aged hearing impaired children, while Hazelwick and The Angmering School now have planned places for children who have either a visual or a hearing impairment or both. The SSCs are very much part of the mainstream school and children with a sensory impairment are integrated in to mainstream classes as appropriate.

Individual needs are addressed through a personalised curriculum tailored for each child and this is planned and monitored through a Statement of SEN maintained by the local authority and an Individual Education Programme planned by the school.

Children must have a Statement of SEN to be considered for placement within one of the SSCs. Information about SENs can be obtained from the Parent Partnership Service at parent.partnership@westsussex.gov.uk or through the following link to the WSCC Guidance Booklet; Request for Statutory Assessment for School Age Children.

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Contact us

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Email Email: sensory.support@westsussex.gov.uk
Phone Phone: 01903 270430 (direct line)
Phone: 03330 142 903 (West Sussex switchboard)
Fax Fax: 01903 223988
Address Address: Sensory Support Team
West Sussex County Council
Northern Area Office
Worthing Road
Broadbridge Heath
West Sussex
RH12 3LZ

Supporting documents

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