Are you in the process of choosing a primary school? We asked Emma Murphy, a special needs teacher, for her thoughts on how to choose the right school for your child.
What is important when looking for the best school for a child?
It is important to visit a number of schools and look around when the children are there, I think you get a much better feel for a place.
There are a variety of options, including mainstream, special school, mainstream schools with specialist units attached and dual placement.
Compare a variety of schools as appropriate; don’t assume that either mainstream or special is right or wrong for your child unless you have thoroughly researched it first.
Also try not to worry too much about whether this provision will be right for them in six year’s time, decide what is right for them now, you can always move to special school or mainstream at a later date, if their needs change. Since my son would need very specific nursing care, I knew that a special school was definitely the right place for him.
What should parents do if they feel their child’s current school isn’t right?
Try and maintain a positive relationship with school. It can help to have a single point of contact – this might be the SENCo, pastoral support, head of year or class teacher – someone that you can go to if/when you have any questions or concerns.
Many parents find a home-school diary is useful for passing information to and from the child’s class teacher.
If you have concerns, arrange a meeting to discuss them. It can help to have your questions written down in advance and to have another person there for moral support and to take notes about what has been discussed.
Find out if the school shares your concerns and what, if anything, they are already doing to help. Try to agree a plan of action, who is going to do what and when and arrange a date to review this to see if it has worked.
The special needs jungle has some fabulous flow charts that outline the process you should go through if your school-age child has Special Educational Needs or Disabilities. Plus, there are charities like IPSEA who do a fabulous job of advising parents of their rights.
Take a look at the Education pages of our Directory. Also, search for School in the top bar to access our other features on Education. We have quite a few!