Your Child's School

Many schools provide very good education but sometimes problems arise and the teacher is unaware of how to solve them. This is particularly true of dyslexia as it is only briefly covered at Teacher Training College and not every school takes advantage of the in-service training, which is available on the subject.

Each child has to be taught many different subjects over a year and teachers are very busy and sometimes, rightly or wrongly, a child’s problems can be overlooked.

In the first instance, when you feel that your son or daughter is not making progress at school, then an appointment should be made with the class teacher to discuss your concerns. If an appointment is made it should give the teacher time to gather information and examples of the pupil’s work so that all the required information is at hand when the meeting date comes around.

If after that meeting with the class teacher you are still concerned, the next step is to make an appointment with the Head Teacher, or appropriate staff member (such as Learning Support) in secondary school. Before keeping the appointment, perhaps the following should be considered.

1. Be well prepared. Note down any points to be discussed.

2. Make sure you know exactly what you want to have by the end of the meeting, eg a meeting with the learning support teacher or an assessment.

3. Take a friend or relative for moral support. Many people still feel intimidated by the Head Teacher, remembering their own school days and the influence the Head Teacher had.

4. Be positive, calm, firm and confident.

5. Take plenty of notes whilst you are in the meeting. Much of what you are told will be new to you, and you may have to refer to it later when a decision has to be made.

6. Don’t agree to anything unless you are absolutely sure. Often we feel differently when we are more able to think clearly in the comfort and security of our own home. You may also like to seek further advice before any decision is made.

7. If anything is agreed put a reasonable time limit by which the action has to have been taken.

8. When you return home, digest your notes, think carefully and seek advice if necessary about what you want now and what was provisionally agreed at the meeting.

9. Put in a letter your understanding of what was discussed and agreed at the meeting and ask for confirmation from the school that they agree. When you send the letter make sure you send it "Recorded Delivery".

10. Before leaving the meeting arrange for a follow-up meeting- perhaps one each term would be appropriate, with the understanding that should any problems arise with either the school or yourselves then either party can be contacted at any time.

If after that you are still concerned, or the school are refusing to carry out a particular request (often it is beyond their control to carry out certain requests due to lack of resources or appropriately trained teachers) make an appointment to see the Head Teacher once more. This time make it clear exactly what you have asked for and in what way you feel they are not complying with your wishes. Give the Head Teacher the opportunity to sort it out by a certain date and then advise that if it is not resolved by then and he/she is unable to help further then advise him/her that you have no other option but to take the matter further.

By doing this, you have given the Head Teacher every opportunity to solve the problem. Your child has only one chance at his/her education and it must not be wasted.

It must be remembered that working with the school is vital and most beneficial to the child, and where possible bad feeling should be avoided. Support from both school and parents is vital for the child and undoubtedly is best for him/her.

New legislation called the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004 now gives parents new rights when dealing with their children's school. Click here to find out more about the Additional Support for Learning Act.