Help at School
Approaching Your Child's School: Advocating for Inclusion and Support
When a child with speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) is struggling with inclusion or keeping up with schoolwork, it's essential for parents to advocate on their behalf. As a parent, you play a crucial role in ensuring your child receives the support and adjustments they need to thrive academically and socially.
In this short guide, we will explore strategies for approaching your child's school when you feel they may lack the necessary skills to meet your child's needs.
Our Helpline staff hear from parents worried about how their child is not coping at school or struggles to keep up. There are many things that can negatively impact a child at school including lack of skills in the classroom, bullying, isolation, behaviour challenges. The topic is too wide to cover fully on a short introduction. We are set up to respond to families on an individual basis and within local communities. Contact our Helpline with your concerns.
Gather Information and Documentation
Before approaching the school, gather relevant information about your child's SLCN and their current academic performance. This may include assessments, reports from speech and language therapists or other specialists, and samples of your child's work. Having this documentation will help you communicate specific concerns and provide evidence of your child's needs. Make sure that you understand your rights and your children’s rights. You can read more about GIRFEC here.
Schedule a Meeting with Key School Staff
Request a meeting with the appropriate school personnel to discuss your concerns. This may include the class teacher, additional support needs staff or the school's inclusion team. Clearly communicate your child's SLCN-related challenges and how they are impacting their education and social well-being.
Share Your Observations and Concerns
During the meeting, express your observations about your child's struggles and their specific areas of difficulty. Be specific and provide examples. Focus on the impact of these challenges on your child's overall educational experience, including their ability to access the curriculum, interact with peers, and make progress. Ask for your comments to be recorded or a minute taken of any meetings held.
Collaborate on a support plan
Work with the school staff to develop a plan to support your child tailored to your child's SLCN needs. This plan should outline specific goals, accommodations, and strategies to help your child succeed. It should also include regular progress monitoring and opportunities for reviewing and adjusting the plan as needed. Some children will have needs that demand other types of plans and you can read more about that on Enquire.
Advocate for Specialised Training and Support
If you feel the school lacks the necessary skills or knowledge to support your child's SLCN, respectfully express your concerns. Ask about available professional development opportunities for teachers and support staff to enhance their understanding of SLCN and effective teaching strategies. Advocate for additional training or external support, such as drawing in specific support from speech and language therapy if necessary.
Establish Ongoing Communication
Maintain open lines of communication with the school to stay informed about your child's progress and any changes in their support plan. Regularly schedule follow-up meetings to review your child's development, address concerns, and ensure the implementation of agreed-upon strategies. Be an active partner in your child's educational journey.
Seek External Support
If you encounter resistance or feel that your concerns are not adequately addressed by the school, consider seeking external support. This may involve consulting with professionals, such as educational psychologists or advocacy organisations specialising in supporting children with SLCN. They can offer guidance, advice, and additional strategies for advocating for your child's needs. You can visit the Scottish Child Law Centre for free expert legal advice.
Remember, effective communication, collaboration, and persistence are key when approaching your child's school to address SLCN-related challenges. Your role as an advocate is crucial in ensuring your child receives the support and accommodations they require. By working together with the school, you can create an inclusive educational environment that maximises your child's potential.
NOTE: Strategies provided in this guide are general recommendations. The specific approach may vary based on your child's unique needs and the policies and practices of the school. It is important to seek personalised advice and support from professionals and organisations specialising in SLCN and educational advocacy. Our Helpline is open to ask questions and seek guidance.