PARTNERSHIP WITH FAMILIES
‘Parents… have unique knowledge and experience to contribute to understanding and meeting their child‘s additional support needs……Professionals need to involve parents and take account of their views on their child‘s development and education at the earliest opportunity. Partnership with parents is, therefore, central to ensuring that children and young people with additional support needs benefit fully from school education.' Supporting Children‘s Learning Code of Practice (Revised edition) The Scottish Government, 2010
Parents, carers and families are by far the most important influences in a child's life. However the teacher and whole school staff approach (every adult in school) will influence the child’s quality of life every day whilst they are in and out of school.
Undoubtedly partnerships with families enhance the knowledge the school has about a young person with autism. They can provide information about co-existing conditions, the young person’s awareness of their diagnosis and what it means to them, and factors likely to cause anxiety or stress, affecting their emotional wellbeing.
A positive partnership with mutual respect between the teacher and parent/carer is essential to achieve progression in the child’s life and learning. It is important for everyone in the partnership to recognise that social and emotional development and skills for resilience in life are equally as important as academic learning.
For partnership working to be at its most effective sharing and collaboration are essential; between parents, between professionals and between parents and professionals. At all times good communication will keep parents and staff informed in a 2-way exchange to support their unique young person with autism.
Partnerships with families can:
- Enhance learning and emotional well-being
- Help to progress individual targets
- Transfer learning - can only happen if parents know what is being taught
- Help prepare for changes and transitions
- Provide alternative ideas, strategies and information
- Support whole school awareness projects
- Plan for homework (adapted where appropriate)
- Support pupil involvement in school events or outings (arrangements for what is possible or alternatives)
- Support independence and preparation for adult life
- Parent’s concerns are often as much about their child being safe, secure, accepted, respected, valued and nurtured as they are about curriculum issues
- Parents may have considerable constraints on their time that are outwith their control, impacting on participation in school events or activities
- Parents can feel pressure around expectations that they can change their child’s behaviour in school
- Parents should have information about what is being taught to promote transference of learning and skills
- Schools should be made aware of changes or issues within home circumstances to accommodate difficulties pupils may behaving
- Planned opportunities for informal as well as more formal review meetings will support positive partnerships
- Clear communication structures should provide means of information exchange between school and home
- There may be times when parents feel isolated and lacking support
- Schools can provide a forum where parents can meet to share information
- Homework in particular can be a significant source of stress for both children and parents. In some cases, it may be preferable for children to do their homework in the school setting, and where there is extreme anxiety it may be relevant to consider being exempt from doing homework.