When Government Improvement Plans or initiatives arrive in inboxes, or in the media, it can be incredibly frustrating when schools already have so many everyday demands on time and resources. We know that the additional demands you feel, unite schools with the families you engage with, who are also focussing on ‘just’ getting through the day.

The government’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan calls for increased collaboration to build parents’ trust to fulfil children’s potential with “the right support, in the right place, at the right time”.[1] To be able to build trust with parent carers, a setting will need to engage well with their families.

Here a some ‘Top Tips’ to help you better engage with parent carers and really make those relationships trusting and fruitful:

#1 The Top of a To-Do List

The first thing to remember is how busy parent carers are being pulled in different directions. An event or activity needs to have something which makes it important enough to get to the top of a long to-do list.

#2 Listen

Whether it is during parents’ evening, Christmas shows or other open days find ways to ask parents what they need or want from the school. A phone call, personalised email or smile when dropping off can create the connection needed to listen and hear what is important to parent carers.

#3 Creative Engagement

One thing Covid did was give us lots of different ways to get in touch with people and create contact. From WhatsApp to virtual meetings on Zoom. For some people actually getting to school can be a challenge – for others technology poverty is an issue. In what ways can you engage creatively with your families?

#4 Asynchronised Opportunities

Sometimes the hardest part is getting people in the same place at the same time when all their timetables are conflicting. This is where short, recorded videos and explanations can create connection and future in-person engagement, as faces become familiar and values are shared.

Born at the Right Time Ltd offers CPD certified training for SEND professionals founded on lived experience, research and best practice. Our engaging and inspiring courses explore how to bridge the gap between families of children with SEND and practitioners. Our training events open up small, inexpensive and meaningful ways to increase effective communication, engagement and collaboration with parent carers. Search our courses here or contact us to find out more.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-and-alternative-provision-improvement-plan

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