Top ten tips for your first Student Support Group meeting

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Your child’s Student Support Group (or its equivalent in Catholic or independent schools) is the main vehicle for ensuring your child gets the right support at school.

It is really worth making sure, from your very first Student Support Group (SSG) meeting, that you and the staff have a shared understanding of how your child’s SSG will work. Below are our top ten tips for your first SSG meeting at a school.

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Top ten tips for your first Student Support Group meeting (DOC 40KB)

  1. You can bring a support person with you to any meetings with the school. This can be your partner or another family member, a friend or an advocate (but not a lawyer). Many parents and carers highly recommend bringing a support person to all meetings.
  2. If you need an interpreter, the school must provide one for you. Even if you speak some English, you might prefer to have an interpreter to discuss complex issues about your child’s education. This is your right.
  3. Remember that you are an essential member of your child’s Student Support Group. You were your child’s first teacher, and continue to play a crucial role in their learning. Every member of the SSG has their expertise to offer – never doubt that your expertise, in knowing your child best, is critical to helping the school understand your child’s needs, and plan the right learning and supports to meet those needs. Feel free to share what you know about your child, including what will help them to feel comfortable at school, and to learn. Speak up about your opinions and wishes for your child from the first meeting.
  4. Feel free to ask lots of questions about the role of different people in the meeting, and other staff involved with your child. School can sometimes forget to explain these things in detail, but it’s important that you know who is how, and how everything will work.
  5. Ask for an introduction to how the school approaches SSG meetings: how agendas are set, who takes minutes and how they are distributed. Ask how you can add items to the agenda of a meeting – for example, should you email the principal before the meeting with anything you want to discuss?
  6. Ask who your first contact should be, if an issue arises in between meetings, and the best way to contact them (phone or email, times they are available).
  7. Ask about your child’s Individual Learning and Support plan: how the process works, and how you will have input.
  8. Ask how decisions made in the meeting, including your child’s learning and support plan, will be communicated to other relevant staff (such as education support staff/aides and specialist staff, like art or sports teachers).
  9. Ask how often the SSG will meet, and whether it might be worth setting dates in advance. Sometimes meetings can be missed in a busy school calendar.
  10. Don’t be embarrassed to ask as many questions as you need, until you understand any of the issues under discussion. Especially if this is your child’s first school, or your first SSG meeting, there will be a lot to learn. Asking questions shows your interest and enthusiasm, and shows respect for the role and expertise of the other members of the meeting.

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