Solving problems with school

Solving problems with your child’s school

Sometimes, disagreements can arise or relationships can breakdown. This can happen for many reasons, like differences of opinion about your child’s support, or through difficulties communicating. There are lots of steps you can take if a problem arises.

Often, it will only take one or two steps to sort out any issues. It’s always best to start from the beginning of this list, as trying to resolve things with the people that work most closely with your child is usually the quickest way to move things forward. However, if things aren’t getting better, you can see here all the further steps you can take if you need to.

Step 1 – talk to your child’s school, ask for a meeting

Most of the time, concerns can be resolved by communicating with your child’s school. If you have a concern, you should first contact your child’s teacher. At nursery, this would be your child’s key worker. In a primary school, this would be their class teacher. At high school, this would be their guidance (or pastoral) teacher, or their head of year. Schools usually have a procedure for contacting staff – the school office should be able to tell you about this.

Following this, or if you have a lot you would like to discuss, you could ask for a meeting. You could ask that the person responsible for additional support for learning attends the meeting too, especially if your concern involves decisions which are beyond the control of your child’s class or guidance teacher.

See our page Getting the most from meetings for useful advice.

Step 2 – put your concerns in writing

Contacting your child’s school in writing can be helpful as it creates a record of the concerns you have raised. In an email or letter to the school, you can explain your concerns as well as making it clear that you want to work together with the school to find a resolution. Focus on your child’s needs and the impact of the current situation on their learning and wellbeing. If writing a letter, be sure to include the date when you sent it.

Step 3 – speak to the head teacher

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, or if you do not receive one, your next step would be to escalate your concerns to a more senior member of staff, such as a depute or head teacher. As above, it can be helpful to put your concerns in writing so that there is a record of the things that you have raised.

Step 4 – contacting your local authority

If you have tried resolving things using the steps above but you still have concerns, your next step would be to contact your local authority. By law, your local authority is responsible for your child’s education and support. This means that while, usually, your child’s school can arrange and provide your child’s support, you are able to escalate your concerns beyond the school if you need to.

You should get in touch with the lead parent contact for additional support for learning at your local authority. You should explain your child’s circumstances and let them know what steps you have already taken. You can find the details that we have on our local authority contacts page.

It’s likely that the person responsible for additional support for learning at the local authority will contact your child’s school to discuss your concerns. They may also attend or arrange a meeting with you and the school. They should also inform you of how you can take further actions if you need to.

Step 5 – independent mediation

Independent mediation is a process which brings you and your child’s school or your local authority together, and supports you to reach an agreement. The discussion is facilitated by a neutral third party (called a ‘mediator’). It allows everyone to share their concerns and offer solutions. Its focus is to find a solution that everyone supports and which is in the best interests of your child.

You can access mediation at any time. It is a voluntary process, which means that all parties must agree to take part. Mediation can be used for any issue relating to additional support for learning.

  • Mediation

    This factsheet explains how and when you can use independent mediation to resolve a disagreement about your child’s support.

Step 6 – consider further options

If you’ve tried the steps above and things are still not resolved, it may be time to consider more taking a more formal route. Visit our page on More formal routes for resolving disagreements to learn more about your options.

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