What do parents really think of SENCO’s?

31 Mar

This post is from SEN magazine.

When I looked back, from the parental side of the fence, on my time as an LSA, I realised that I may have been a good LSA, but that I was not good enough. So I decided to ask other parents and disability groups what they thought of the professionals who support their children; what would they say to a room full of SENCOs and SEN workers, if they had the opportunity? The reaction to this was overwhelming and the responses fell into three distinct categories, which echoed my own thoughts.
Consider the parents

Far and away the most frequently mentioned and passionately discussed point was that professionals must consider what parents think and want. All families differ, but the vast majority of parents know their child better than anyone else. After all, it is the parents who have sat up into the small hours researching their child’s condition online, fuelled by worry, fear of the future and a desperate need to know that they are doing their very best. It is they who have spent their evenings networking with other families and support groups to find the best solutions for their child. It is they who have been the experts from day one. SENCOs who recognise this have access to the most valuable of resources.

It is vital to involve and accept offers of help from parents. One mum summed this up by making a plea to school staff: “I would like to be treated as the lead professional. Realise that the parents are experts and be open to suggestions of new ways of doing things that have been successful elsewhere.”

Another mum echoed the thoughts of many in wanting to be involved as much as possible in her son’s education: “I would ask the SENCOs to take five minutes to listen to the parents…I want my child to go through school in the best way possible. This means being regularly involved in planning and forward thinking”.

It is so important to see things from the parents’ perspective and understand the pressure they are under. Parents live with the child’s difficulties every day. They may not get much sleep, and often have to face worrying episodes when their child is ill or hospitalised; at times, this will take its toll, and recognising this will go a long way towards creating a better working relationship.

Teachers and SENCOs must take the time to look for potential problems within school so that parents don’t always have to be the ones to mention what is not going to plan. Suggestions should also be taken seriously the first time. As one father said, “By the time I raise an issue at school, it is because it is really important and because I have already let a lot slide…I do not want to be considered a nuisance.”

To read more here is the full article.

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