Parents play a crucial role in supporting their child’s learning, and parental engagement is consistently associated with academic outcomes. This is especially true when a learner is struggling at school.

Regular and consistent communication between schools and parents or carers is vital; but what does this look like? Here are our top tips for parents when working with schools to support children with literacy difficulties and/or SEND.

Tips for parents

  • The class teacher or form tutor is your first port of call. Schools can be hierarchical places, and going straight to the headteacher with concerns risks alienating the staff member who has the closest relationship with your child.
  • Get to know the ‘graduated approach’. This is the approach your child’s teacher is likely to use when making adjustments, setting interventions and reviewing the learner’s progress. See our guide to the graduated approach here.
  • Figure out the best way to communicate. Remember that if a phone call is the preferred way to get hold of your child’s teacher, they won’t be able to take your call during the school day, and only get a short amount of time for lunch. If emails or letters are better, make sure you’re getting face-to-face interaction in too – a quick chat can often solve a lot more than a long email chain!
  • There’s no such thing as a silly question! Ask how, where, when, what and why. You need to understand where the teacher is coming from and their approach to providing support. You also need to be open to answering any questions your child’s teacher might have for you.

If you need to raise a concern…

  • Ask for a meeting with the SENCo or Head of Learning Support. These are teachers responsible for additional support in school and liaison with outside services. Try to include the class teacher or form tutor in the meeting and any other communications so they’re aware of what’s being agreed.
  • Raise concerns quickly. Waiting risks embedding a problem and could make it harder to resolve.
  • Share any ideas or suggestions for how the problem could be resolved. The school may not be able to implement your solution for a range of reasons, but going into the discussion with a constructive suggestion rather than a complaint can be helpful, and makes a more productive meeting.

See our full ‘Top tips for parents communicating with schools’ resource here.

Discover more resources for supporting literacy in our Resources Hub – including home learning resources for parents.