So your child is at their first school- but you still can’t relax right?! Depending on their SEN it can be just as anxious when they are out of sight just as much as when they are in front of you. Below are a few questions you may have and some answers to those questions.
1. Can I work if I have an SEN child? YES! In fact you can do what you would like. As a parent you are entitled to the same quality of life as a parent of any child without SEN. There may be health difficulties that your child has which means a flexible arrangement with your employer is required, however as a rule of thumb you should expect a break from your child between 9-3 during term time.
2. Do I have to drop off/collect them from school? Depends on location and need. However generally the LEA (Local Education Authority) will pay for private transport for those who attend special schools or where the local school is out of reach. Depending on your child’s SEN will influence whether they travel with their own individual escort or they share an escort with others. An escort acts as an adult support for those with SEN using transport.
3. What can I do during the day to help? Send them to school in the best state possible. It’s important that there is good dialogue to the staff at the school about how your child has been the night before/morning through the home school book. Maintaining the continuity between home life and school life will reduce the stress between the two.
4. How much contact should I have with the school? As much as you need. Contact with the school should be to a level you feel comfortable with and is meaningful. Some parents would want weekly phone calls or regular meets from the teacher. If your child is new to the school then more contact might be needed, but if they are settled then contact should be in line with the school approach.
5. What will school do if they are unable to cope? The school have taken responsibility for the care and safety of your child and in doing so have said they can meet need. If they are suddenly saying they can not cope then the onus is on them to rectify the situation. This means they should work with the LEA to ensure that your child’s provision is met, whether additional classroom support or alternative provision. If for whatever reason the school can not meet the needs of your child this process should happen over several weeks. There should not be a sudden announcement so that there is a smooth transition for your child.
6. What work shall I do at home with my child? Sometimes what other children will do, sometimes nothing and sometimes somewhere in between. If you child gets picked up at 7am to go to their special school which on the other side of the county and probably will not return home till 5pm then they are probably going to be very tired. Wouldn’t it be fair to allow them some relaxation time and some space? Wouldn’t that be what you would want? Sometimes at home doing the simple things are best- engaging in conversation, reinforcing aspects of independent living agreed with the professionals- it might be unloading their bag when they return.
7. They refuse to wear their school clothes-what should I do? Relax-don’t worry. Fight the battles you need to win not the ones you feel pressured to win. If they don’t wear school uniform but are going to school then that’s a success. However over time it could be worth having a target that maybe 1 day in 5 they wear their uniform and build in a target from there. The school SENCO should be supportive here and help with the setting of a specific target to help with getting your child to wear their uniform.
8. I am not happy with the TA, teacher, SENCO, school- what can I do? Be clear what it is that you are not happy about. Don’t get personal and be succinct in your reasoning. Your child not feeling happy at school because they are nervous working with a TA is a good reason. When you are unhappy with whoever in the school try to approach their superior if it is something that can not be fixed by speaking to them face to face. Create an action plan with the school so both sides are clear how things are going to improve.
9. I’m exhausted, I can’t cope and need help, what can I do?Okay relax. Breakdown what is making you exhausted in particular. There are many options here. If you need a break from your child do you have respite/enabling for them (see respite/enabling page)? What is the support network around you? Have you contacted other parents to see how they cope. There is no shame in saying that you are finding things difficult, in fact is quite brave. Seek help from family, school, local authority and ask for guidance.
10. An EHC plan- what have I got to do? An EHC is an Education, Health and Care Plan. This document states the need of your child, their SEN, what their provision is and how it will be met by the school. As a parent you will be expected to contribute in discussions on the populating of this document which happen once a year at the annual review. The annual review would normally take place at the school and be attended by key people such as parents, teachers, TA’s, SENCO and perhaps a reviews coordinator. From this meeting outcomes and targets will be set that will shape the education direction of your child. There will be a place for parental comments to be added.