Working with the school

Parents and the school are equal partners, working together to find ways to support a child. The views of the child should be at the heart of any discussion.

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:

Parents know their children best and it is important that all professionals listen and understand when parents express concerns about their child’s development. They should also listen to and address any concerns raised by children and young people themselves. (6.20)

Where a pupil is receiving SEN support, schools should talk to parents regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress towards them, discuss the activities and support that will help achieve them, and identify the responsibilities of the parent, the pupil and the school. Schools should meet parents at least three times each year. (6.65)

These discussions will need to allow sufficient time to explore the parents’ views and to plan effectively. (6.69)

The views of the pupil should be included in these discussions. This could be through involving the pupil in all or part of the discussion itself, or gathering their views as part of the preparation. (6.70)

Things you can do  

Because you know your child best, you will have really important information to share with school, including strategies for how your child can be supported.

Often parents are using strategies without realising it, and it can be less confusing for a child when the strategies at home and at school are the same.

Ideas for partnership working:

• Note down key points and questions before you meet with the school.

• Approach the school, offering to work with them.

• Share your child’s strengths and what they enjoy

• Note down what your child has said; children’s words are powerful and tell us a lot about how they feel.

• Acknowledge the school’s view and any support they are offering.

• Share what you see as your child’s main difficulties, but also what support and approaches you have found helpful.

At the end of meetings, make sure you know what will happen next. It can be reassuring to make an appointment there and then for a follow-up meeting, so that you know when support and progress will be reviewed.

Thinking about your questions

When you meet with the school you will want to find out:

• the progress your child has been making

• whether the support in place is having the desired impact

• what needs to change

Think about how to frame your questions before you meet with the school.

Below are some ideas:

“What works well at home is…”

“Could we…?”

“(name of child) responds well to…”

“(name of child) says they would find… helpful. Have I got that right (name of child)?”

“If you can’t do… what can you offer instead?”

“How can we work together to support my child?”

When things go wrong

The relationship between a parent and school can sometimes be tested, for example, when there is disagreement about your child’s rate of progress or the support they are receiving.

It will be helpful to talk to school as soon as possible, so that you can be reassured about what is happening. It could be that the planned support was not working and school have made some changes that you have not been told about, or maybe there is a temporary staffing issue due to illness.

Sometimes staff are working on one of the agreed actions and intend to work on another action later, so as not to overwhelm your child. 

Try to maintain a calm and friendly approach – a positive relationship with the school will help your child

Child/young person’s voice

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:

Children have a right to:

• receive and impart information

• express an opinion

• have their views considered in any matters affecting them

Local authorities must ensure that children, young people and parents are provided with the information, advice and support necessary to enable them to participate in discussions and decisions about their support. (1.9)

and

Local authorities should consider whether some young people may require support in expressing their views (1.10)

Early years providers, schools and colleges should involve children and young people in any discussion about their needs or support and:

• help them to participate in discussions and share their views;

• take into account their views when planning and reviewing support;

• consider their goals and aspirations when agreeing desired outcomes

Discussions often centre around issues the adults around a child or young person consider are important for them. But we must also make sure we consider what is important to them. This is sometimes called ‘person – centred planning’.