Working with parents and carers to support children with SEN

Central to high quality practice in the early years is the setting’s policy and practice in relation to working in partnership with parents and carers. Local authorities, early years providers and schools should enable parents to share their knowledge about their child and give them confidence that their views and contributions are valued and will be acted upon. 

It's important to work with parents to support the children in your care. Below is advice and support on how you can make sure all parents are involved in different aspects of their child's care. 

Involving Parents in Decisions

Parents should participate in the earliest decisions about children with SEN including in the initial decision about whether or not a child has a special educational need.

To inform this decision, all the information about the child should be brought together and considered with the child’s parent/carer. The discussion would normally be between the key person, the SENCO and the parent/carer.

What to expect, when? is a parent friendly guidance document to a child’s learning and development in the early years foundation stage. It is a useful document for practitioners to share with parents to help them know what to expect during these vitally important years

Where a child is identified as having SEN, parents are part of the decision-making process about the next steps and the graduated approach.

The practitioner and the SENCO should agree, in consultation with the parent:

  • the outcomes they are seeking for the child
  • the interventions and support to be put in place
  • the expected impact on progress, development, behaviour
  • date for review

Parents should be engaged throughout the cycle of action: assess, plan, do, review. Their views should inform decisions about how their child should be supported in the setting, whether special educational provision through SEN support is still required, whether more specialist external assessment may be called for, whether staff require more specialist external advice or the child requires more specialist support, or whether their child may require an EHC needs assessment.

Having challenging discussions with parents

Parental responses to conversations about their child can be varied and complex. It is important that parents feel supported throughout and it may help parents to have a friend or supporter with them in a discussion. Each child and each family is unique and a ‘one size fits all’ approach will rarely be effective. Ensuring the setting’s approach to parental engagement is underpinned by a set of values and principles can help to steer practitioners, and can enable settings to approach each discussion, each meeting and each situation sensitively.

The Communication Trust has created a video to support practitioners working with children and young people with how to raise initial concerns about a child or young person’s speech, language and communication development with their parents. The video is intended to be used as a professional development resource, to enhance confidence and skills in talking with parents about their child’s speech, language and communication development.

You will also find:

At times, parents, teachers and others may have differing expectations of how a child’s needs are best met. Sometimes these discussions can be challenging but it is in the child’s best interests for a positive dialogue between parents, teachers and others to be maintained, to work through points of difference and establish what action is to be taken.

Positive partnerships with parents/carers

Childcare providers must build strong, trusting relationships with parents and carers, particularly parents of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. It is important to show that they understand that parents and carers know their children best  and that they learn a lot from them about their child which helps them  to support the child better. It is vital that providers take time to listen and be positive rather than negative which than means parents and carers are more happy to share their concerns with us.

Nasen has a range of videos with parental input on how to support and work with families with SEND children.

Signposting families

Childcare providers may be the first or only professional families have come into contact with regarding their child’s special educational needs or development delay. They also could be the professionals they see most consistently and talk to most about their families’ situation. Therefore, it is vital childcare providers offer a package of support and signpost families to activities and organisations that can support their specific needs.

Waltham Forest Children and Family Centres aim to improve outcomes for children under five and their families, and reduce inequalities, particularly for those families in greatest need of support. Children and Family Centre services can help you to support the wide ranging needs of the children and families who use your setting. Services that can be accessed by families include parenting groups, housing and benefit advice, baby bank, healthy eating and speech and language drop ins.

The Local Offer is a guide to all the services for children and young people in Waltham Forest with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged from birth to 25 years.

Stay 2 Play sessions run throughout Waltham Forest, each two-hour session supports the child’s learning through playing with other children alongside their parents or carers.

SENDsucess provides a growing resource library, which  will help support parents/carers and the child.


Last update: Thursday 15th of August 2019 02:06:52 PM