Every parent wants their child to do well at school and to be
happy and successful in life. Excellent home-school
communication is one of the key ingredients for educational
Barriers to good communication
However, building and maintaining a 'climate of trust' with our
child's teachers and other professionals can be difficult. Elaine
McEwan, a distinguished head teacher and school leader, has listed
the following reasons why parents and teachers sometimes struggle
to have good relationships:
- today’s world is stressful, fast paced and fragmented – many
parents are short of time, suffering from communication overload
and often feel ‘disconnected’ from their child's school.
- we can feel swamped with confusing new plans and policies.
- despite the constant flood of information, somehow we never
seem to find out what we really need to know
- we worry that our child is being left behind and it seems that
no one has the time or resources to listen to our concerns and give
our child the help needed
- we are asked for advice and feel that it has been ignored.
Many parents are anxious about raising their concerns about
their child's education for fear of harming relationships with the
school. The SEND Advice Service has a duty to act impartially and
therefore is ideally placed to support parents at meetings and help
resolve disagreements between parents, schools, or the local
authority. Both David and Ruth have received professional training
in conciliation skills and dispute resolution. We use these
skills, together with our wealth of experience, to clarify
any misunderstandings which have been caused by a breakdown in
communication, identify the key points which need resolving and
help find practical solutions which meet the child's needs. We
will also support parents if needed at follow up meetings to
monitor whether agreed actions are being carried out and help
ensure that a climate of trust has been re-established.
If dispute resolution is unsuccessful, formal mediation is a way
of resolving disputes between parents and the local authority
(and/or schools) without going to the SEND tribunal or to court. It
has some distinct benefits as an alternative to more lengthy, and
possibly costly, adversarial approaches to dispute resolution:
- Mediation is a flexible process in which a neutral person
actively assists the parties in dispute to work towards a
negotiated agreement, with the parties themselves deciding whether
to settle and the terms of resolution:
- Parents can choose mediation at any stage before or during
tribunal proceedings. A parent's right of appeal to the
tribunal is not affected by the decision to try mediation.
- Mediation is 'confidential' and without prejudice (nothing said
in the mediation is admissible as evidence in the tribunal without
the consent of both parties)
- Any settlement reached is binding once put into writing and
signed by the parties.
If you would like more information, please phone the SEND Advice
helpline - 01234 276 267.