Here are suggestions for dealing with common issues that families told us about. The next page covers issues related to school attendance.
These suggestions are just a start. If the first person you approach isn’t able to help, don’t give up. Your child has the right to the help they need, to learn and be included at school. Find out more about bringing up a concern.
Your child’s learning
If your child comes home with low marks or saying school is too hard, talk to the teacher. When children don’t get the help they need to achieve their best at school, it can make them feel bad, or like there’s no point trying.
If your child is already getting for their special needs, they might need a different kind of help. They might have a new teacher with less knowledge, their needs might have changed, their work might have got harder, or school might have changed their supports. You can talk with the teacher or ask for a Student Support Group meeting.
If your child has not been assessed for special needs, have a think about it. Some families feel uncomfortable about diagnosis and mainstream ideas about disability. But the experience of families we talked to is that the information helped them and their child, and other people in community too.
Activities outside class
You might be concerned that your child is missing out on excursions or camps, or not getting the right help with activities like sport, art or music. Talk to school about how to organise things so your child doesn’t miss out. It’s a good idea to plan ahead for camps, and to ensure your child gets support to attend cultural events that the school participates in. You can also talk with the art, sports and music teachers about what help your child might need in their classes.
Behaviour issues and why they come up
Children sometimes muck up because they need more help, and are frustrated or embarrassed. Some children find it hard to sit still and focus in a noisy classroom. For some children, unexpected changes can trigger challenging behaviour. If Suzanna’s son is in trouble at school, she wants to be told straight away.
“And I want to be present. I don’t want my child to be reprimanded without getting to the bottom of why he done what he did.” – Suzanna
Sometimes children muck up if they’re tired or not eating well, or because of things happening at home. There are many pressures that can affect families. If you’re having a hard time, get help for yourself and your child. Some of this might come from community. Some might come from disability services. The school can also help – talk to the Koorie education worker or welfare coordinator.
Discipline and safety
School can discipline students in different ways. The education department’s ‘Student Engagement Policy’ explains everyone’s rights and responsibilities, and what should happen if your child mucks up. School must talk to you, and work out what will help your child settle. Suspension or expulsion should only happen in extreme circumstances.
If you’re concerned, talk to the principal. In some cases, you might be very concerned. Schools are not allowed to use corporal punishment. And they can’t restrain children, except if the child’s behaviour is a threat to their own or other people’s safety. If you are not satisfied after talking with the principal, get help to take it further. If there is violence or abuse, call the police. Children have the right to be safe at school.
Bullying, victimisation and racism
No school should tolerate bullying, victimisation, racism or any form of discrimination. If you are worried your child is experiencing any of these problems, speak up. The school must take these issues seriously. If the teacher doesn’t deal with the problem, go to the principal. If they do not deal with it, get help to take your concerns further.
Uniforms and school costs
Sometimes families find it hard to pay for uniforms, books, school fees, camps or excursions. You might be able to get help – don’t be shame. Ask the Koorie education worker, welfare coordinator or assistant principal. Or you might have the uniform and shoes, but your child won’t wear them. Some schools might be more flexible about this than others. Ask the Koorie education worker, integration or welfare coordinator to talk to the school for you.