Sensory support service

The Sensory Support Service is a team of specialist teachers and support staff who are committed to working with children and young people with hearing and vision needs, and their families, to provide a comprehensive teaching, educational, advisory and audiological support service.

Working from birth through to leaving school, the service works seamlessly with families and professional colleagues from a range of disciplines. We aim to ensure that children and young people with sensory impairments enjoy the same rights and opportunities as their peers, and that all barriers to maximising potential are overcome.

'All children have the right to the best possible start in life. Where children have special needs and disabilities, it is important that these are identified at an early stage and that identification leads directly to effective early intervention and support for families and children.' (Together from The Start - Practical guidance for professionals working with disabled children (0-2) and their families, DfES, 2002)

Sensory Support Service Team Development Plan 2015-2016

Click here to view the Sensory Support Service Team Development plan

Sensory Support Service Self-Evaluation Framework

Northumberland Sensory Support Service has produced a Self-Evaluation framework which looks particularly at the quality of teaching and pupil achievement, service developments over the past year and key areas for improvement.

This is available here.

Access to the Sensory Support Service

The Sensory Support Service is a countywide service which provides a continuum of specialist support provision for children with sensory impairments. Being centrally organized, the Service has a strategic view across the county and is able to offer a unified, coordinated, high quality and coherent response. The Service operates flexibly according to fluctuating need and reacts efficiently to unforeseen demands, deploying specialist staff as need arises and making effective use of specialist equipment.

This is important because educationally significant hearing and visual impairment are recognized as low incidence special educational needs. As incidence is demographically and geographically diverse, as is the nature and degree of difficulty, pupil populations are notoriously difficult to predict and peaks and troughs in pupil numbers is the norm.

99% of referrals to the Sensory Support Service are via health (Opthalmology, ENT, Audiology etc.) and clear consistently applied protocols exist between the referring agencies and the Service. The Service is not responsible for the detection or diagnosis of either impairment.

Schools/settings or parent/carers may however contact the service directly for advice.

Outcomes for hearing/visually impaired children and young people (SICYP) are regularly evaluated via the following mechanisms:

  • Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) Quality Standards
  • The Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE)
  • The National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP)
  • The National Deaf Children's Society
  • Specialist Quality Assurance Inspections on behalf of the DfE

The Service also undertakes annual self-evaluation via the SENHUB Quality Standards Framework, in addition to a programme of rigorous staff appraisal.

An assessment of the pupils, families and schools appraisal of Service performance is completed biennially, the results of which are evaluated and acted upon.

The Service produces an annual Service Development Plan. This is reviewed and informed by national, regional and LA drivers, in addition to self-evaluation, and is monitored by Senior Managers.

The Service uses the National Eligibility Criteria for Support to:

  • ensure equitable allocation of resources;
  • provide entry and exit criteria for support;
  • provide a means of identifying the levels of support required;
  • inform Statutory Assessment;
  • inform staffing level considerations;
  • support Service quality assurance;
  • facilitate benchmarking across LA SI Support Services

Whilst the Eligibility Criteria are comprehensive and designed to provide the basis for a fair allocation of available resources, they are not intended to exclude professional judgement and do not replace a full assessment by a qualified specialist SI teacher.

All parents/carers are required to complete a consent form for Service engagement.

The Sensory Support Service provides educational support to pupils with a hearing or visual impairment, their families and their host schools through a team of specially qualified staff which includes:

  • Specialist Teachers of Hearing/Visually Impaired Children

all are fully qualified and experienced teachers (QTS) and hold the Mandatory Qualificationof Teacher of the Deaf/Visually Impaired (TOD/QTVI). Additionally a number of teachers hold Advanced Certificates in Education or Early Intervention/Masters Degrees (M.Ed).

Most staff have additional qualifications in BSL (Level 1/2/3)

  • Specialist Learing Support Assistants

all hold additional qualifications for working with SICYP

  • Speech and Language Therapist

PGCE; Bsc (Speech Sciences); MSc (Human Communication); MRCSLT

  • Technical staff

The Service also provides and maintains a range of technical equipment to facilitate the ability of pupils to access the curriculum.

The Service will, thereby:

  • Facilitate the ability of individual pupils to access the school curriculum
  • Facilitate the ability of individual school staff members to deliver the curriculum to those pupils

at a level deemed appropriate to each individual child's needs.

Contact Information for Sensory Support Service

Northumberland Sensory Support Service
Riverside Centre

Armstrong Way



NE63 0YD



Service Manager - Sue Churchill: 01670 624064
Sensory Support Office: 01670 624854
Fax: 01670 620151

Service Personnel

Hearing Impaired

Sue Churchill - Service Manager and Teacher

Nicola Taylor- Team Leader and Teacher

Peripatetic Teachers

Please contact via the office (see above) or click their name to send an email.

Speech & Languaage Therapist

  • Jane Fairclough

Visually Impaired

Visually Impaired
Visually Impaired office address:
Riverside Centre

NE63 0YD

To contact any of the Visually Impaired Team, please telephone the above number or click their name to send an email.




Your feedback is important to us

We are always looking for ways to improve the services we provide and are interested in your comments or views. If you have any queries, suggestions or would like to discuss issues relating to our work please do not hesitate to contact us:

Sensory Support Service
Riverside Centre
Armstrong Way

NE63 0YD
Tel: (01670) 624854

You may also give your feedback by completing our feedback form. Click here to download this document