Keeping in touch with secondary school

acd resource learning together 38

The transition from primary to secondary school can be a big adjustment for parents and carers.

On this page:

Adjusting your role

After a long relationship with your child’s primary school, you will probably need to adjust your role and establish new ways to work within a secondary school framework, particularly if your child is in a mainstream school.

Parents and carers usually have less contact with the secondary school community as children become teenagers and travel to school independently, whether on public transport or on the specialist school bus. Communication can also be more of a challenge, because your child is likely to have several teachers if they are in a mainstream school.

You should be made to feel welcome and encouraged to contact the school with queries. However, developing regular communication and a positive working relationship with your child’s secondary school certainly requires work on both sides.

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Find a key contact

Finding effective ways to keep in touch might require some trial and error, and a good deal of persistence on your part. But you can make it work. A critical step is asking the school, early in your child’s school year, who they recommend as a key contact for you – a first port of call for queries, and for keeping in touch with how your child is progressing.

Your child’s home-room teacher is often an important central person to keep in touch with. In some schools, the year level co-ordinator or the inclusion support teacher or integration coordinator might be your best contact.

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Trial different ways to communicate

Formal communication should still take place through regular Student Support Group meetings, twice-yearly student-parent-teacher interviews, school newsletters, school websites, and school reports. Schools can provide access to language interpreters if needed, including face-to-face interpreters for important meetings, and the telephone interpreter service at other times. Tell the school well before a meeting if you need an interpreter.

As in primary school, informal communication might include emails, phone calls and a communication book. This is a book that travels between home and school in your child’s bag; it can work well, provided that you and the school staff write in it and check it regularly. Talk to your key contact staff member or discuss with the Student Support Group what type of communication methods will work best for you and the school. Agree on a communication process to trial, and later review how this is going in the Student Support Group meeting.

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Student-parent-teacher interviews

Student-parent-teacher interviews are an opportunity to meet your child’s teachers, get more detail about the information provided on the student report card, become more involved in your child’s learning and provide support where needed. They provide a valuable opportunity to have a discussion with some of your child’s teachers who don’t attend Student Support Group meetings. You can also use the meeting to arrange longer appointments with some of these staff if needed.

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Disclosure and confidentiality

Disclosure is when facts or information are revealed to someone. Your child has a right to privacy and any information about their disability, medical condition or support needs must be treated with the utmost respect, and not disclosed unnecessarily and without your and/or your child’s permission.

However, it is important to provide the school with enough information to ensure they are fully prepared and can comprehensively plan for your child’s individual needs. The school should treat this information confidentially.

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Get involved at school

Parents and carers are often less involved with their child’s secondary school (especially in mainstream) than they were at primary school. However, parents and carers are still valued members of secondary school communities, and there are various ways that you can still contribute and be involved. This helps build your relationship with the school and staff, as well as other families and students; this in turn can help you support your child’s social development.

All schools have School Councils and there may be committees, working bees, or a Parents and Friends Association. Many schools have social functions and fundraisers for families, and parents and carers themselves may organise social events to get to know other families. Consider participating at a level that suits you, your child and family.

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