When school has a grasp of your child’s needs, they must make changes to meet those needs.
These changes are called ‘reasonable adjustments’ – changes to how the school works, or to the environment, which help your child learn and be included at school. They are seen as ‘reasonable’ if they don’t affect the school or other students in a negative way. The school should plan your child’s adjustments and write them up in their learning plan.
Every child has the right to the ‘reasonable adjustments’ they need at school. That right is protected by law and government policy, no matter what kind of school your child attends.
Different children need different help
There are adjustments that make it easier for your child to hear, see, focus on their learning, or know what’s coming up. The school can also adjust the curriculum – what your child learns, their lesson activities and their homework. Some children need adjustments to help them feel more comfortable at school.
Here are some examples of adjustments:
- Exercise breaks, to help a child focus on their work
- Getting into the classroom a bit early, to help a child settle in and feel less anxious
- A map of time, so a child knows what’s coming up, in the day or in the week
- Breaking up information into smaller parts, to help a child learn and remember
- Different class activities, like questions to answer instead of writing a long story.
The school can get information or training from the education department, to help them make the right adjustments for your child. The department has specialist staff who can visit the school and give advice. If your child sees a therapist, they might be able to visit the school and make suggestions about other adjustments to help your child at school. Many disability organisations also have staff who can work with schools.
The right learning for your child
Your child’s schoolwork shouldn’t be too easy or too hard for them. Every child should be given work that’s just a little bit ahead of where they are at. This challenges them to learn. If their schoolwork is too easy, they might get bored and not achieve their potential. If it’s too hard, they might get frustrated or give up.
If your child is in a mainstream school, they might do everything their classmates do, but with extra help. Or they might be taught the same things, but get different schoolwork or assignments. Or they might be taught different things. The school can get help from the education department to adjust the curriculum for your child.
If your child is in specialist school, the school should also adjust their curriculum for your child. You can help the school plan your child’s learning, by telling their teachers what your child can do well at home, and what you would like them to work on while they’re at school.
- Find out about how you can support your child’s education journey.
- Find out about having a say in your child’s learning goals.
Help for your child to feel comfortable at school
A big part of going to school is learning to mix with other children. Being at school helps children learn social skills: how to join in games, how to share their ideas, how to listen, and how to make friends. When your child joins in and feels included, they feel more comfortable at school. When children feel comfortable, they can learn better.
Sometimes children with special needs need extra help to learn to mix well. Speak to your child’s teacher if you think your child is feeling left out, or needs help to join in. Teachers can work with your child and their classmates in many ways – to help everyone get along, play together, look out for each other and make friends.
Speak up if your child feels left out or bullied
Learning how to get along with others is very important for all children. Every child needs to learn how to include other children, including children who are different from them. If your child is feeling left out or bullied, speak up. Every school has rules against bullying, victimisation and harassment. No school should tolerate racism, or discrimination because of a child’s special needs or any other reason.
- Find out about dealing with common concerns.