As always, working together with your child’s school or nursery can be the best way to make sure your child’s support needs are met.
We know that this isn’t always easy when you have worries about your child’s support, and our usual advice will still be useful during this time, including these webpages and publications:
We also know that the coronavirus pandemic has presented many new challenges in how we communicate, relying more than ever on emails and phone and video calls rather than seeing each other in person. It has also been a difficult time for most people in one way or another, and times of increased stress can make it feel harder to communicate positively and effectively.
You and your child still have the same rights as always to be involved in discussions and decisions about their additional support. This will be particularly important while your child readjusts to being back in school or nursery after a long time away, so that you can update staff on how things were for your child during lockdown and learning from home.
As the situation is new for everyone and guidance is changing regularly, the start of term is likely to be a very busy time for everyone while pupils settle back in and adapt to new school rules. This means it might take staff a bit longer than usual to get back to you. It can be useful to put things in writing so that staff can reply when they are able, rather than trying to reach them on the phone – you can then arrange a call for a time that works for you both.
If you usually speak to school or nursery staff in person about your child’s support, this might not happen as much during the term ahead. It might be helpful to reach out to your main contact at the school or nursery to discuss the best way for you to keep in touch. For example, you could agree to have regular phone calls to check in, or to send key updates by email. If you have any accessibility needs, let the school know so they can take this into account when planning how best to keep in touch with you.
If your main contact with school is at parents’ evenings or meetings about their support, these can still go ahead but are likely to happen in a different way. See the next section for more about meetings.
It is unlikely that you will be able to meet with nursery or school staff in person for a while, and instead meetings are more likely to take place via video or phone call.
This might feel quite different, but it is important to remember that you still have the same rights, including to:
• be involved in decisions
• have a supporter or advocate with you for meetings.
Staff should also still take account of any accessibility needs that you have and make adjustments for you. They should also still try to make sure that meetings happen at a time and in a way that is suitable for you. You should still be given the chance to get your views across and be listened to.
If you are going to be talking about your child’s support plan or other documents, talk to the school or nursery beforehand to make sure you will have a copy.
If you are not able to use video or phone calls for meetings, there might be some circumstances where you can meet in person at the school or nursery. If you do this, everyone will need to be careful to follow physical distancing guidelines and take other steps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus (e.g. good hand hygiene).