How to work with schools

by Geraldine Hills. Schools and nurseries have a duty not to discriminate against children with disabilities.

teacher and child in wheelchair

Introduction

One of the best ways we can help our child is if we work in partnership with the people that educate them.

Evidence suggests that our children thrive better when parents/carers are involved in their education.

Parents of a child with a disability often know a lot more about their own child's needs than a school will. For this reason, it's important that you pass on your knowledge to the school/nursery and work in partnership with them.

Extra information

Don't assume that schools will understand and know the best way to include children with disabilities. Make sure the school knows that you are keen and willing to work in partnership with them.

One of the main benefits of working closely with the school/nursery is that it will give you the chance to highlight your child's strengths as well as what you feel they need more support with.

Parents or carers who take on a supportive role in their child's learning make a difference in improving achievement and behaviour. Even though the support your child receives may not be exactly what you envisioned, try focusing on what is working for your child. Try to give some positive feedback in your conversation before you raise any concerns you may have. Tell the school about the things they are doing that are having a positive impact on your child - and aim to build on that so that there is a feeling of partnership and a sense of moving forward.

Share any information you have on your child's particular disability with the school/nursery. If you are being supported by any outside agency or charity, let the school know.

Setting up an information resource point in school where parents can bring in information about different disabilities - and what support is available - is a good way to help staff extend their knowledge on different disabilities.

How to make a magic moment

If there is something that your child particularly enjoys from the CBeebies website, such as Song Time or Watch and Listen, tell the school/nursery.

Let the school/nursery know that this could be a way to really engage your child on a one-to-one basis or with the child's peer group. It could also be a way to create opportunities for magic moments.

How CBeebies can help

If there is any work that your child has produced at home (no matter how small) - e.g. a colouring-in sheet from the Make & Colour section they have filled in - take it into school/nursery and show them what your child can do with the right support.

Programmes such as Something Special can really help with any child's development, but this is especially the case for children with disabilities.

There are some really fun activities on the show's website - there are games, songs, clips, stories, as well as Makaton signs to print out. You could also use the iPlayer to watch recent episodes of the show with your child.

The website is also suitable for all young children, so siblings can also benefit from accessing the pages.

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Expert opinion

Explain to your child's teacher that you want to work together with the school.

You can be much more effective as a partner if you are willing to be flexible and try ideas and offer solutions.

Do your research and find examples of what other schools have done around inclusion and good practice.

It is never too late to start working as a partner with the school - so why not think of one thing you could do right now that could bring about a positives change at your child's school/nursery.

Geraldine Hills, Geraldine Hills: Inclusive Choice

Top tips

  •  Share your knowledge and support and build links with your school/nursery.Ask what you can do to work in partnership with the school or nursery.Stay calm, collected and positive!Be a good listener. 

Parent's tale

“My son has a visual impairment and I was worried the school would make a big deal out of it. I was really impressed with the class teacher because she was honest enough to say she was nervous as she had never worked with a child with a visual impairment.

Over the next few months we worked together to make sure my son could participate and thrive in school. I am glad I was able to be involved in the process of supporting my child.

Helen, From Manchester

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