Building Positive Relationships with School

Cassie Francis
February 29, 2024

As a parent of a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN), establishing a positive and collaborative relationship with your child's school is essential for their academic and personal development. Here, we will discuss the importance of building positive relationships with your child's school, including navigating transitions, understanding the support parents should expect, what to do if support is lacking, and strategies for building a productive working relationship with the school.

How do I navigate transitions:

Transitions, whether fro m early intervention to preschool or from primary to secondary school, can be particularly challenging for children with SEN so it is important that planning for this is well thought out.

Early planning: Begin discussing transitions with the school well in advance. Work with the school staff to create a transition plan that addresses your child's unique needs and concerns.

Visit the new school: If possible, arrange visits to the new school with your child to familiarise them with the environment and meet the teachers or staff in advance.

Open communication: Maintain open lines of communication with both the current and future schools. Share relevant information about your child's strengths, challenges, and the strategies that work best for them. Make sure that the receiving school has all plans, paperwork and reports so that they are starting from a place of knowledge and understanding.

What should I expect a school to provide?

To ensure your child receives the support they need at school, it's essential to have a clear understanding of what support they can and cannot provide. The provision may look very different from what you are used to but different does not mean worse:

According the DfE SEN Code of Practice, January 2015, all schools MUST:

-        provide an annual report for parents on their child’s progress

-        where a pupil is receiving SEN support, talk to parents regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress towards them, discuss activities and support that will help achieve them, and identify the responsibilities of the parent, the pupil and the school.

-        meet parents at least three times each year

-        publish a SEN information report on their website that outlines how children with SEND are identified, supported and what adaptations are made to ensure progress.

Regular progress updates: Expect regular updates on your child's progress, including academic achievements and social emotional development. Collaborate with the school to set achievable goals.

Access to external services: Be aware of the specialist services your child is entitled to receive. These may include speech therapy, exam access arrangements, occupational therapy, or counselling. Many schools have these resources on site but if your child needs access to these, this should be arranged or a referral made.

What to do if support Is lacking:

If you believe that your child is not receiving the support they require, it's important to take proactive steps:

-        Schedule a meeting: Arrange a meeting with the school staff, including teachers and special education coordinators, to discuss your concerns. Share specific examples and request a plan to address the issues, explore alternative support strategies or seek organisations for additional guidance.

-        Advocate for your child: Don't hesitate to advocate for your child's needs. Be persistent in seeking solutions, and consider involving external resources such as educational advocates or support organizations.

-        Document everything: Keep a record of all interactions with the school, including emails, meeting notes, and correspondence. This documentation can be valuable if you need to escalate the issue.

Strategies for a good working relationship with the school:

To foster a positive and productive working relationship with your child's school, consider-:

-        Open and respectful communication: Maintain open and respectful communication with school staff. Listen to their perspective and share your insights and concerns constructively. Remember that you are both there to ensure the best for the child. You are on the same team!

-        Attend school meetings: Attend parents evenings, coffee mornings, review meetings, and other school-related gatherings to stay informed and actively participate in your child's education. The better you know the school and the key people in it, the easier it will be to understand the school’s position regarding your child.

-        Collaborate on goals: Work with the school to set achievable goals for your child. Collaborative goal-setting can ensure that everyone is aligned on your child's educational needs. Do not compare your SEN child to another. Every child is unique and what works for another child, may not work for yours.

-        Express gratitude: Recognise and appreciate the efforts of teachers and staff who support your child. A positive attitude can go a long way in building a strong partnership and ensuring that all communication is aimed at providing positive solutions for your child.

Building positive relationships with your SEN child's school is an ongoing process. By being proactive, maintaining open communication, and advocating for your child's needs, you can create an environment where your child can thrive academically and socially. Remember that you are your child's expert and strongest advocate, and together with the school, you can provide the best possible support for their education and future development.

The SEN Expert offers a range of services for young people, families and schools. We offer support for parents to help navigate the complex world of Special Educational Needs. We will work with you closely to ensure the best for your child.

The SEN Expert was set up by Claire in 2021 following a successful career spanning 12 years in school improvement, special educational needs, safeguarding and the arts.

Claire has worked as a Deputy Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher, Consultant and SENCO in both state and private schools in inner city London, the Southwest, the Midlands and the USA.

Throughout her career, Claire has ensured solid outcomes for the young people she has worked with. Be that a set of good exam grades, a placement in specialist setting or getting a part time job.

Claire is a working mother, and understands the challenges parents face trying to ensure their children are happy and successful. We aim to provide young people with a creative route to the personal and professional adult life they deserve.

Claire sits outside a café with a laptop

SEN consultancy
with a difference.

We offer support for families, children, and schools to navigate the complex world of SEN.

Check out our full list of services at our website www.thesenexpert.co.uk or follow us on Instagram @senexpert for daily advice on special educational needs.

The SEN Expert is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 13523478.