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Advice for parents in Scotland

How can I get the most from meetings with the school?

Attending meetings about your child’s education can be a very positive experience but it can also be confusing, nerve wracking or frustrating or in some cases all three.

It’s good to remember that you have a right be involved in decisions about your child’s education and support and to have your views heard. You also have the right to bring a supporter or advocate along with you to any meetings about your child’s support.

Meetings are a good opportunity for you to hear about how your child is coping in school and any progress they are making. It’s important that you have the chance to share insights about your child too. You may be asked to do this at the meeting or to fill in a section of their learning plan. Advice about what you might want to say can be found in What should I write in my child’s learning plan.

Local authorities have different ways of describing meetings about pupil support. Depending on where you live and your child's needs, you may be asked to attend a:

- Pupil planning meeting
- Child's Plan meeting
- Inclusion Group meeting
- Multidisciplinary Team meeting
- Joint Support Group meeting
- Team Around the Child meeting
- or something similar.

Your local authority website should have information about arrangements for planning additional support in their schools. If you don't know what a meeting is about, ask your school. You can also ask who is likely to be there.

Most planning meetings will take place in school but sometimes, if your child's needs are more complex, you may be asked to attend a meeting somewhere else.

There are lots of things you can do before the meeting to help you feel prepared and confident:

- Ask for the agenda of the meeting. Finding out what will be discussed can help you think about what you want to say.
- Ask for a copy of your child's most recent learning plan if they have one. This can help focus discussion on what the school think your child's needs are and what support is already being provided.
- Make a list of the main issues you want information about or action on.
- Think about what you want the school to know.
- Ask your child what they want shared at the meeting.
- Highlight your child's strengths as well as things they may be struggling with.
- If you are worried your child's needs are not being met, have a few specific examples ready. For example if your child is being sent out of class, give dates and ask to discuss why this is happening.

If you are planning to take a supporter or advocate with you to the meeting, let the school know in advance so they can make sure the meeting room will be suitable.

You may get a copy of a note of the meetings but in some cases, particularly if it's a school planning meeting, your child's learning plan will be updated and this will be a record of agreed action.

You can ask at the start of the meeting if there will be a note taken. If the answer is no, you can ask for one to taken. You can also take your own note and ask the person chairing the meeting to confirm that they agree with what you've written. If during a meeting you are not sure what action has been agreed, you can ask them to clarify this for you.

If a meeting has taken place about your child's needs that you did not attend, you can ask for a copy of the notes of the meeting that relate to your child. You can, at any time, ask the local authority for a copy of your child's educational records. You do this by putting your request in writing to your local authority.

You can:

- take a picture of your child with you to meetings
- ask the professionals to introduce themselves and explain their roles
- ask for anything you don't understand to be explained
- take a copy of your child's learning plan to the meeting and copies of any other relevant information
- share positive stories abut your child's achievements or strengths outside of school
- be open to trying new strategies to see if they work for your child
- if you think an important member of staff is not present ask if they can attend future meetings
- if staff can't attend ask for their input in writing
- remember you bring to the table a wealth of knowledge about your child
- but remember that teachers and other professionals bring expertise in how children behave or learn

Possible conversation starters:

- How can we work together to make this happen?
- Can we ask my child's speech and language therapist to attend this meeting? I think their views will be helpful in planning my child's support.
- Can we focus on what is working? Is there anything we can learn from this?
- What alternatives would you suggest?
- Can I just check I've understood what's been agreed?

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