Questions Parents Often Ask

"I think my child has Additional Learning Needs (ALN). What can I do?

If you have concerns about your child’s progress:

  • Have you spoken to your child’s school about your concerns?
  • Do you know how the school works with children who may have Additional Learning Needs?
  • Do you know if your child is on one of the stages of the Code of Practice and, if so, which one?
  • Does your child have an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) or an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?
  • Who should you speak to in school?

The first person to speak to is your child’s class teacher or form tutor. You might want to do this at a parent consultation session or to make a separate appointment to see them.

"I'm really concerned about my child's progress. She is struggling with her written work and way behind the other readers in her class. What can I do?"

Again, all children are different. And the first thing to do is arrange a meeting with the class teacher to discuss your concerns about your child. The class teacher may contact the ALNCo (Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator) and to discuss and decide upon any Additional Learning Needs your child may have.

Teachers may seek the support of specialist professionals, for example advisory teachers or an educational and child psychologist. As part of this process your child may be assessed. This is to help decide on the best way to support them with their learning.

If your child is making slower progress than you expect, or the teachers are providing different support, help or activities in class, you should not assume that your child has special education needs. Please talk to your class teacher; they are always keen to help.

"I'm anxious that my child may be having difficulties at school. What can I do?"

If you think your child may have difficulties you should talk to any of the following:

  • your child’s class teacher or early years practitioner;
  • the school ALNCo (this is the person in the school or early years setting who has a particular responsibility for co-ordinating help for children with Additional Learning Needs);
  • the headteacher;
  • the independent parental supporter (IPS);
  • Health Visitor or Doctor;
  • your social worker;
  • The educational psychology service;
  • The advisory teaching team (Learning and Inclusion support Team);
  • Sensory Support team;
  • Support from the Pupil Referral Service;
  • Outreach from special school or specialist centre.

If you are not satisfied with a response, you should contact your local education authority to discuss your concerns.

"How will my local school help my child?"

  • By ‘differentiating’ tasks (i.e. making tasks simpler or tailoring them to your child’s ability);
  • Offering different ways of recording information (e.g. labelling pictures, diagrams or flow-charts);
  • By using multi-sensory activities;
  • By breaking down learning into small manageable steps;
  • By helping children to organise their written work by using writing frames;
  • By allowing extra time to complete tasks;
  • By keeping instructions short and clear;
  • By constantly praising and encouraging the child for achievements made.

Some children may work with a teaching assistant – before, during or at the end of a lesson. However, children should be encouraged to work independently whenever possible.

"What kind of information should be available to Parents from their Child's School?"

Your local school should provide you with the following:

A Prospectus

The prospectus normally contains useful information about the school (e.g. which subjects are studied, the length of the school day, details of the school uniform, out of school activities, health matters, etc).

Policies

Schools must have written policy statements on matters relating to the effective running of the school.

Newsletters

Most schools send regular newsletters to parents giving information about school life (e.g. events and activities, school in-service closures (INSET), staff changes, etc).

Pupil reports

Schools have to send a written report at least once a year to parents of children of compulsory school age. The report should explain progress, the pupil’s strengths and weaknesses. The school report should not be used to raise serious issues with parents for the first time about their child’s progress.

Your child’s school records

As a parent, you have a right to access your child’s educational record. This covers information such as the records of the pupil’s academic achievements as well as correspondence from teachers, Local Authority employees and educational psychologists engaged by the school’s governing body. It may also include information from the child and from you, as a parent. (If you require such information about your child, you should make the request in writing to the headteacher).

Other records that may be included:

Pupils who have Additional Learning Needs and require additional support from the school may have an Individual Development (Education) Plan. This is sometimes called an action plan because it should describe:

what the child’s special needs are;

  • how the school aims to meet those needs and the type of help that is to be provided;
  • targets for the child to work toward;
  • how the school will measure success and how often the plan will be reviewed.

It is considered good practice for parents to be consulted about the plan and for the plan to contain information about what parents can do at home to reinforce what is happening at school. Schools should invite parents to attend the review of the plan.

Home school agreements

All schools must have a Home-School Agreement which explains the aims and values of the school and spells out the responsibilities of pupils, parents and the school on such things as:

  • maintaining discipline and positive behaviour;
  • regular attendance;
  • homework;
  • maintaining a positive and happy learning environment;
  • the school’s commitment to its pupils;
  • what is expected of parents and pupils.

Parents’ evenings/consultations provide an opportunity to look at your child’s work and to discuss progress with the teacher(s). However, you may be limited to a 5 or 10-minute session with the teacher and if you have a lot to discuss you might find it helpful to:

  • write to the teacher before the meeting to let them know the issues you want to raise, or
  • ask for an alternative appointment to allow more time for discussion.

"What is the SEN Code of Practice?"

The SEN Code of Practice, issued in 1994 (and updated in 2000) provides guidance and practical advice to Local Authorities, schools, early education settings and others on how to carry out their duties under the Education Act 1996.

Not all children with Additional Learning Needs will be the same, so the Code of Practice states that there is a graduated response to meet their needs.

All Local Authorities, schools, early education settings and those who help them (which includes health and social services), have a duty to “have regard to it”. This means that they cannot ignore the Code of Practice. In other words, although schools, Local Authorities and others do not have to do everything exactly as suggested in the code, they have to be able to justify why they feel it is better to do things differently.

The following fundamental principles underpin the guidance given in the code:

  • A child with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) should have his or her needs met;
  • The Additional Learning Needs of children will normally be met in mainstream schools or early education settings;
  • The views of the child should be sought and taken into account;
  • Parents have a vital role to play in support their child’s education;
  • Children with Additional Learning Needs should be offered full access to a broad, balanced and relevant education, including an appropriate curriculum for the foundation stage and the national curriculum.

Local Support in West Wales

Parent Partnership Services provide support and advice to parents whose children have Additional Learning Needs. Information and advice is provided by a dedicated team who provide accurate and neutral information.