Schools should work closely with the families of every child with special needs.
Communicating with you
Good communication is really important. Schools communicate with families in different ways. Staff can chat with you at drop off or pick up time. There are school reports and parent–teacher meetings twice a year. There are also school newsletters and notices that come home in your child’s bag.
Some children have a communication book, which the school and the family can use to keep in touch on a daily basis. If the school doesn’t write much, you can ask them to give you more details about your child’s day.
Meeting to talk about your child’s needs
The school should also have regular meetings with every parent or carer of a child with special needs. These should happen at least once a term, and are usually called Student Support Group meetings. If you are not having these, you can ask for them, even if your child does not have a diagnosed disability.
The meetings should include you, the teacher, the principal or vice-principal, and sometimes other staff, like a Koorie education worker or the Integration coordinator. You can take your own support person from outside school with you. If you wish, your child can also attend.
Uncle Henry meets with the staff at his girls’ primary school regularly. He knows that the assistant principal or the Koorie educator will give him a heads up, if there’s a problem at school.
“I know all the teachers up there of the girls now. And they help them a lot … We have meetings up there to discuss what we want to do. Or [the assistant principal], she gives me a call, or she comes down and sees me. She’s very good.” – Uncle Henry
You can ask for an extra meeting any time, for example if you’re worried about your child’s learning, if there’s a problem at school, or changes at home that might affect your child’s attendance.
How the meetings work
In any meetings with the school, it’s important to speak up about what you want for your child. You should also speak up about any concerns that you have.
Sometimes parents or carers find it hard going. Many people find it helpful to write down problems to bring up, before they go into the meeting. You can also take your own support person with you.
The meetings should discuss:
- How your child’s learning is going
- What your child will be working on this term (their learning plan)
- What help your child needs with their schoolwork
- What help your child needs to mix in and feel comfortable at school
- How school can support your child in culturally appropriate ways
- How you can support your child’s learning at home
- Any concerns that you or the school might have.
If your child’s school is getting extra funding to help support your child, the meetings should discuss how this will be spent.
- Find out more about funding and how it works.
One of the staff should write down every decision made at the meeting. They should send you these notes and go through them next time, to check what has been done.