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The parent-teacher and school relationship can be a rather tricky threesome. Quite often the parents of a SEND child feel just as vulnerable and inadequately informed as the pupil. However, there are those demanding parents who will expect the class teacher or school to take full responsibility for their child, whilst being parental locus. They are far too busy to get involved with their child’s education and find it difficult to understand that in order for their child to make progress, they must interact with the child and participate in their teaching and learning. Of course, there are those parents who are completely on board and volunteer to participate in ‘additional work’ activities, as well as taking on the recommendations of the SENCO, teacher and school.

So how do we involve SEND parents in the education of their child?

It is essential to create a healthy rapport with the parents of a SEND child from the time they enter the school. If we neglect this time period, then it can become more difficult for parents to Listen, Adhere and Act upon the advice and recommendations given by the school.

  • Once you have established the SEND child has additional needs, arrange to meet the parents with the Head Teacher or Head of Pastoral care- show the parents that their child’s education matters!
  • It is important to provide the parents with an opportunity to meet with the SENCO, form/class teacher before the child starts school- if this is not possible, arrange to meet them as soon as you can, encouraging them to be part of the teaching and learning programme for their child.
  • If you find a parent struggles to understand the challenges faced by their child, then request for them to observe the child in an additional learning support lesson- or ask them to come and watch him/her play at a particular break time. If that doesn’t work, recommend they meet with the Headteacher and yourself, at a mutually convenient time, so that you may go through some useful tips that will help them acknowledge the learning needs of their child.
  • Do not be afraid of the parent! Most parents want what is best for their child. It’s difficult to appreciate that the school or SENCO does not have all the answers and they will also need to contribute to the development of their child.
  • Do get your school to consider twilight workshops on different aspects of SEND for parents. Advertise these in your school newspaper, send attractive, colourful poster emails to SEND parents.
  • Use your parent-teacher meetings to draw attention to the ‘team player effect’- get parents on board through positive encouragement, enabling them to take on board responsibility for their child’s needs without pessimism. Try not to use negative language, such as “well if there is no time being made at home for learning, then I’m afraid he/she will not be able to make progress at school.”
  • For the most challenging parents, encourage their child to show them the work they have achieved at school and get them to attend assemblies where they can appreciate their child’s contribution to the whole school, class and year group.

Remember that all parents want what’s best for their child. It is not going to help you or them if there is any animosity towards one another. The child needs both you and the parents to work in collaboration for them to develop into independent learners.  A harmonious environment, both at school and at home will allow the SEND child to flourish.

By: Talat Khan