Extra support from specialist staff in schools

Student support services work in schools to help students, parents, principals and staff.

Student support services include psychologists, speech pathologists, social workers and other allied health professionals such as occupational therapists or youth workers.

Schools also have access to other professionals - board-certified behaviour analysts and visiting teachers.

An Easy English version of this topic is available to download: Student support services and other allied health professionals - Easy English (PDF, 561KB).


Psychologists provide support to your child, your family, and your child's school through individual and group work. They help with funding applications by giving assessments and reports to the school principal. They can also give advice to the school and teaching staff.

Speech pathologists

Speech pathologists provide speech pathology services and carry out speech and language assessments.

Social workers

Social workers offer support to your child, your family and your child’s school through individual and group work.

Other professional support

Your child's school also has access to other services.

Board-certified behaviour analysts

Board-certified behaviour analysts provide behavioural assessments and support for your child. They also coach school staff.

Visiting teachers

If your child has a physical disability, vision impairment or is hard of hearing, visiting teachers can work with teachers to address your child’s learning needs.

A visiting teacher can:

  • help teachers understand how best to support your child
  • supply documents such as reports for funding applications
  • give advice to teachers on your child’s progress
  • help your child use assistive equipment – for example, text to speech software or screen readers
  • help the school create an individual education plan.

Accessing support services

You or the school principal can ask for your child to be referred to student support services. You will need to give permission to the principal for your child to be referred.

The school will:

  • work with you to decide what kind of support your child needs – for example, a visiting teacher or speech pathologist
  • gather and review information such as medical reports about your child’s additional needs
  • develop and assess your child’s individual education plan
  • decide what other services may be suitable – such as early intervention or professional learning for school staff
  • send a referral and privacy form to the student support services.

After the referral

Student support services will review your child’s referral form. They’ll decide what service could meet your child’s needs.

They’ll also contact the school principal and tell them the outcome of the referral.

Depending on the needs of your child, student support services may:

  • give advice about your child’s learning and wellbeing
  • provide assessments and reports
  • help develop your knowledge and skills
  • provide professional learning for your child’s teachers
  • provide therapy and counselling
  • work with other services if needed.

Your child’s school and student support services will give progress reports. This is to check your child’s learning and development needs are being met.

If the referral is not suitable

If the application is considered unsuitable for the service, student support services will discuss it with your child’s school. They can make recommendations for other professionals or services that can meet your child’s needs. The school will keep you informed.