Meetings and Reviews
The rights of parents under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2009 (2009 Act) include:
- Having their views considered and be involved in decision making.
- Having a supporter or advocate present at any discussion or meeting with an education authority when their child's additional support needs are being discussed.
It is important that professionals are aware of such parental rights and facilitate their enactment.
Parents of children and young people with autism will be involved in numerous formal and informal meetings and reviews throughout their child's education and beyond. A key component of successful partnership between parents and professionals is the quality of these meetings. Involving parents in the review process will significantly improve the quality of information available.
Short informal meetings are helpful in problem solving, developing classroom strategies and celebrating success. However even the most articulate, well-prepared and knowledgeable parents can find large multi professional meetings difficult, extremely stressful and mentally exhausting. The outcomes and actions of meetings are often difficult for parents to recall. It is therefore important to record and circulate notes of meetings. This not only allows parents to process information effectively it also clarifies the outcomes, identifies any actions and provides them with an opportunity to ask for further information or even to disagree.
Sometimes parents feel a sense of frustration if review meetings are the only opportunities to exchange information, other than when things are not going well and there is a negative focus on problems. There may be many factors influencing parents at these times when their own levels of stress and anxiety will be high. This is likely to be less so when positive steps have already been made at less stressful times to develop the relationship. Positive, realistic meetings involving open discussion with clear outcomes will enhance the parent professional relationship.
Formal or Review Meetings:
- Advise parents of the benefit of having a supporter or advocate at meetings -this person can be of significant assistance in helping parents to list and then prioritise the topics they wish to be discussed.
- Before the meeting it may be useful provide parents with information about the purpose, the agenda and time allocated as well as who has been invited. Consider how this looks to parents - a discussion or written info?
- Careful consideration should be given to how many people are invited. Parents can be overwhelmed and inhibited when confronted by a large group of professionals, particularly if they are not aware of particular professionals roles in relation to their child
- Any information or papers being considered should be sent out beforehand - it is unfair and anxiety provoking to expect parents to read and absorb information and then form questions on technical reports presented during meetings.
- Information should be clear with explanations of abbreviations, 'jargon' or technical terms.
- Celebrate and minute pupil’s achievements
- Parents all too frequently receive only news regarding their child's inappropriate or challenging behaviour
- Minutes should be presented to parents as soon as possible
- The chair should summarise the meeting noting action points and proposed time scales as well as the person responsible for any implementation.