Being part of the school community

acd resource learning together 50

A school is much more than its students, teachers and other staff. Many parents and carers find it very rewarding to become involved with their school community – and that it helps their child as well.

On this page:

A sense of belonging for your child

Parents and carers want many different things for their child out of their school experience. They want learning tailored to their child’s capacity and interests, and support tailored to their needs. They also want their child to experience a sense of belonging and inclusion; to have friends, and positive relationships with other students. This is a central part of what all students are at school to learn, as discussed below.

When children and young people feel a part of their school community, they often feel happier in themselves, and more comfortable in the classroom and school grounds. This helps them to learn, as DET recognises when it talks about ‘school engagement’, and that schools must help students at risk of becoming ‘disengaged’ – for example if they are not interested in learning, are refusing school, or having behavioural issues or conflict with other students.

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Support for your child’s social learning

There are many ways that school and families can support children and young people to create friendships, and to feel part of their school community. Social learning is an essential part of the learning for all students in primary schools, in particular. All students need help to learn core social skill that enable them to share, to take turns, to include others, to resolve problems and to build friendships.

It’s important to make sure the school considers your child’s social learning and development as part of their education and support planning, in their Student Support Group meetings.

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How families can help

Families can also do a lot, outside of school to support their children’s friendships. Talk to your child about their friendships and how they get on with their classmates and other children at school.

Talk with the teacher about what they observe about your child’s relationships with other students, and what you can do to help them learn the skills for building friendships and resolving issues with other students. Often, if a student receives the right help from the adults around them to resolve a conflict with another student, this can be the beginning of a real friendship.

The parents and carers of your child’s classmates can be an important part of this process, and of nurturing real friendship between your child and theirs. Janet chose her son’s primary school because she had friend there, and has found that communication with other parents has been key to supporting her son’s inclusion and friendships, and for helping him deal with other minor issues:

Social learning and inclusion might look very different, for different children and young people. It might also require a different type of input from parents or carer. Some families, like Rhonda, have needed to educate other children and their families about their child’s disability, and how best to relate to him:

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A sense of belonging for parents and carers

Getting involved at school can also help parents and carers to feel more included, and to build friendships and connections that help them, and help them to support their child.

In Janet’s case, social connections with other school parents have become important for their whole family:

For Limor, a sense of inclusion at her son’s mainsream school has been critical; she feels a particular connection with families of other students at the school who also have special needs:

Sometimes social connection might be through face-to-face contact, at school during pickup or drop-off times. Increasingly, connections between students and their families might be enhanced through social media or other digital tools.

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