Referral information

Children's services

The referral route for primary school-aged children having difficulties in school, is from schools rather than GPs.

Families that approach GPs for a referral to community paediatrics should be redirected back to their child’s school, using the form available below. Only if the school is not seeing any difficulties, should the referral be made by a GP.

This strengthened referral pathway through schools has been developed following discussions over the last year between the community paediatric team, GPs and the ISEND service. The flowchart below explains the new referral pathway.

The reasons for this are:

  • Schools have a greater understanding of their children and any difficulties they may have: If schools are seeing significant difficulties, they are best placed to refer through the well-established and recently updated information gathering form. The form is produced in collaboration with colleagues in ISEND.
  • Good support can start earlier in schools: There is a requirement on schools to access free advice from ISEND about the right support to put in place for a child. Some schools do this already as a matter of course. Asking all schools to do this means that children with special educational needs (SEN) will get better support across East Sussex, and the capacity in schools to provide well for children with SEN will increase.
  • Support can start while the child awaits assessment: Starting good support does not depend on diagnosis, although diagnosis is still important for overall clarity.
  • Information from ISEND will be available to inform paediatric assessment.
  • ISEND are made aware of vulnerable children with needs in school.

Referral of primary school-aged children, from reception to Year 6 (approximately 5 to 11 years)

  1. All families asking their GP for a referral for their child who has difficulties in school should be asked to approach their school for a referral. This is the preferred route to Child Development Clinics (CDC) in community paediatrics. The leaflet below, which has been developed with a wide group of stakeholders including parents, ISEND and SENCOs, should be offered to parents at the consultation to support them in their conversations with schools SENCOs.
  2. If the child does not show difficulties in school and the family are concerned about possible autism or other neurodevelopmental problems (excluding ADHD for which a school referral to CAMHS is required), GPs should make the referral and include full details of the child’s developmental history as far as possible.
  3. Refer to Tier One services (School Nurses) as usual for support with sleep, anxiety and continence.

Referral of pre-school children

  • Referral routes for pre-school children are working well and need no action at present. Health Visitors should be involved by GPs at an early stage as they will have input on sleep, behaviour and development.

Whilst waiting for an initial appointment, all families can be advised to work with schools, ISEND, CLASS+, the School Health Service (School Nurses) and Health Visitors to put in place support for their child.

If you have any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – Email: or Tel: (01323) 414953.

Advice to parents

Information for parents about seeking a referral from their child’s school

Referal pathway

Referral route from General Practice to Community Paediatrics for primary school-aged children presenting to GPs with developmental difficulties