Ask any school leader, pastoral or curriculum, and they will tell you that one of the most important things to ensure the smooth running of a school is communication with home and the involvement of parents/carers. This is even more pertinent when it comes to the parents/carers of students with SEND (Special Educational Needs), and is something that must be considered when up-skilling in SEN.
See below for a list of reasons why a positive home/school partnership is so important for children with SEN.
In many cases, each student with SEN is likely to have a whole host of multi-agency professionals working with them at any given time. Sharing and triangulating information is vital, and it is likely that the foundation of that child’s care is the parents/carers. You may be able to provide the missing piece of a puzzle that a speech therapist has spent months putting together with just one crucial breakthrough in a science lesson!
In education one of the key words used with relation to any student in the classroom is consistency. When we refer to students with SEN, the consistency in the care provided often needs to extend beyond the school gates in order to make students feel grounded, secure and orientated. Parents can help bed in new school routines by implementing them at home and they can assist with gently enforcing new expectations by applying a similar structure to activities in a more domestic setting.
This one is a fairly obvious, but invaluable point! You can have experts and professionals from every agency in the world working with a student, but more often than not, the person who knows a child best in most instances is the parent/carer. Speaking to them regularly can help you spot warning signs and help diffuse or de-escalate a situation. It will also help in reflective and restorative work following any incidents or breakthroughs at school.
It is likely that you will work with students who have issues that fall into the broad area of need categorised as 'Communication and Interaction' within your setting. If this is the case, your duty must sometimes extend to speaking for your student when it comes to ensuring that they are able to participate in school life as much as students who do not have any SEND needs. A quick call home to remind parents/carers about the upcoming Geography trip to the Cotswolds, or the charity coffee morning next week that students need to bring some change in for goes a long way towards supporting that engagement.
It is also extremely important that parents/carers gets to find out as much about the school setting as they can. By keeping the lines of communication open, it enables parents to see the bigger picture surrounding their child’s education. It is too easy to send a child to school and not know fully what goes on behind the school gates. This can lead to mistrust, paranoia and ultimately anxiety for a parent, particularly when their child has SEND. Try your best to reassure parents by providing them with what your vision is for their child academically and pastorally and how you aim to go about it. Book in weekly phone calls the same time every week so these parents know that you have made time for them and that you are treating their child with the care and attention they require.