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MANAGING YOUR PTA – SEN children


General tips


As well as creating inclusive events and encouraging children to attend, hold some more relaxed, activity- based fundraisers throughout the year, for example, colouring competitions, Christmas card fundraisers or Silver Smarties (see p41). A wider variety of ways to get involved means you’re more likely to reach all children, and taking part in smaller fundraisers may give them the confi dence to attend a larger event. At big events, have clear volunteers and adults


available so children know who to ask if they need support. Encourage school staff to get involved, as the familiar faces will be reassuring for children. Lanyards or T-shirts will make those in charge obvious. Be patient and give children time to process options when it comes to face painting or prizes. It’s important not to overwhelm children with too much choice. For event inspiration, ask parents and children what activities they enjoy and see if there are any common suggestions, e.g. sensory, tactile activities could mean you organise a craft event after school or introduce more interactive stalls into your summer fair. As well as asking them questions, give parents and


children the chance to ask you any questions they may have. This gives both parties the opportunity to fi nd out more about, and take into account, any individual needs. Some children may fi nd comfort in using ear


defenders. Be aware of this and let parents and children know that this is welcome at your events.


Apply it to an event


Adaptions will be dependent on your specifi c event, but we’ve pieced together this advice to apply to three common PTA scenarios.


● SUMMER/WINTER FAIR: Hand out programmes in advance where possible. When setting up, make sure stalls aren’t crammed too closely together and create a quiet area. Signpost this, as well as other important facilities. Work with your SEN forum, SENCo and pupils to ensure there are stalls and activities that all pupils will enjoy. Invite SEN children to the event early, making sure there are clear volunteers and adults available, and make options clear on stalls where there are choices.


● DISCO: Provide parents with bullet points of what will happen at the event so they can go through this with their child. Consider noise levels and lighting when planning the music, DJ and decor. Have a refreshment room where parents can stay – this can double as a quiet area in which children can unwind. If you have the facilities, have two disco rooms, one of which is quieter with subtler lighting, and allow children to fl ow freely between the two.


● BEETLE DRIVE: Provide parents with bullet points of what will happen at the event so they can go through this with their child. Explain the instructions for the activity clearly, making sure everyone can hear. Have paper copies available so people have time to process the rules.


the quiet area, toilets and refreshments are signposted.


TOO MUCH INFORMATION Situation: Events that depend on a lot of instructions can mean an information overload for children. Consideration: If your event has instructions, for example a construction challenge or beetle drive, have written copies available so children can refer back to them and have time to process the information. Ensure instructions, both spoken and written, are clear.


ANXIOUS CHILDREN Situation: The prospect of attending an irregular event where things aren’t always as expected may alarm children and discourage them from partaking in activities. Consideration: If it’s a child-only event, set up a refreshment room for parents so they can stay in the building as a comfort to the child


(and you can also make extra funds by selling teas and coffees!). If the child is overwhelmed, then the person best prepared to calm them down is nearby. This room can also double as a retreat for the child if necessary. Alternatively, invite the parent to volunteer at the event. Having more volunteers is always


a good thing; it will be a comfort to the child, and you may fi nd the parent enjoys the experience and becomes a regular.


Next steps


All children are different and not every idea will bring comfort to all, but by taking measures like these you can create an inclusive event where every child feels safe and has fun. Not all PTAs will have the capacity to implement every change, but work together with your school to see what is feasible. Even small changes can make a big difference. Arrange a meeting with your


school SENCo and parent SEN forum to fi nd out how you can best address the specifi c needs at your school. Review how each of your events are run, and work with staff, SEN parents and pupils to see how these can be adapted to include everyone. Find more resources and information at nasen.org.uk.


pta.co.uk AUTUMN 2018 19


IMAGE: SHAUNL/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM


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