Parents' evenings can be aminefield

In her regular column for Education Today on SEND, DR ASHA PATEL, CEOof education not- for-profit Innovating Minds, thismonth looks at parents’ evenings.


Parents can be anxious about their child's progress and pupils fear they will be shown up by their teachers and embarrassed in front of their family. It is quite usual to feel nervous befo hopefully everyone will be more upbeat at the end

of the evening rehand but

and understand the child’s progress and learning needs better. However, sometimes things go spectacularly wrong.

Perhaps there is a mismatch between what teachers say and what parents understand.When discussing a bright student, one teacher said she hoped he would get a higher grade in his GCSE than in his mock. The student was upset when his father kept him in every night and curtailed all his sporting activities. Parents tell us that they go with concerns about their child, looking for reassurance and come out with even more bad news. 'We started with the science teacher and our daughter got quite a few positive comments,' said one father. 'Then it was downhill all the way. One teacher door-stepped us as we were leaving to tell us how difficult our daughter was, that she was rude and disrespectful and disrupted lessons. She was shouting, other parents were staring and talking about us; our daughter was crying and we felt humiliated.'

Thankfully, moments like this are the exception and with better planning you can make parents' evening a more positive experience all round:

purpose of parents' evenings and communica 1. Senior management need to have a clear idea

to all staff.

2. It is a chance to communicate with parents and a time to focus on the curriculum. This is not the time or place to vent personal frustrations you have about the student.

3. Be mindful that often you have an audience when you are talking to parents so take care that you do not discuss or divulge confidential information. If it has proved difficult to contact parents and this is the only opportunity to raise concerns about behaviour, then it should be done by a member of senior management in a private area.

4.Meetings between families and subject teachers should focus on educational achievement, study issues or lack of progress. Do not let behaviour that challenges become the main topic of discussion. These discussions will be taking place elsewhere.

5. Critical comments should be tempered with specific advice. There are many students who 'must try harder' but make sure you have some suggestions of what this would look like in class.

Remember that young people with mental health issues can be especially vulnerable to criticism and that children who have a troubled home life may find there are repercussions from a bad report, so be careful how you phrase your comments.While it can be hard to praise a child, try to say something positive and thank the family for coming in to see you. After all, families you never see who often give the greatest concern.

cause for it is the

March 2020

te their vision of the

Supporting children who stammer

Thismont Education

Today SEND h, regular

contributor KATE SARGINSON, Deputy ty

Headteacher and SENCO, looks at the challenges facing childrenwho stammer.

In 2011 George VI’s stammer was made famous by the movie ‘The King’s Speech,’ Colin Firth’s Oscar winning performance portrayed the debilitating impact of stammering upon the Queen’s Father. 2 years later the issue was highlighted in the popular Channel 4 programme ‘Educating Yorkshire’ with an emotive episode featuringMusharaf Asghar and his

determination to successfully complete an English Oral exam with the passionate support of his teacherMr Burton. It is perhaps not well known that people in the public eye such as Emily Blunt, MarilynMonroe and Ed Sheeran have experienced stammering. Politician Ed Balls may be memorable for his stint on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016, but he is also the Vice President of charity ‘Action for Stammering Children’ (ASC) having a stammer himself. Studies suggest that 8%of children will stammer at some point, with approximately 1%continuing to stammer into adulthood*.This communication issue could affect more people than many teachers realise - what can sch It is not known what causes stammerin

g, although inherited ools do to help?

factors are believed to be a factor - around 2 in 3 people who stammer have a family history of it. It is also unclear why stammering is more common in boys than girls. The most

the ages of 2 and 5 when children are lea stammering. Speech problems usually bec common type of stammering is known as

ome apparent between developmental

rning to speak. In early

childhood, the brain and the muscles responsible for speaking and breathing connect. If this system does not develop fully, a child can encounter difficulties saying words clearly in the right order, with an appropriate rhythm, use of pauses and correct emphasis.

Many children grow out of stammering, the NHS state around 2 out of every 3, and schools can play a part in supporting children.

• Don’t finish off sentences if a child is struggling to get the words out.

• Don’t advise a child to slow down or speed up.

• Focus on what a child is saying, not how they're saying it. • Give the child additional time – both to understand and

process what is being said to them and formulate their response.

The rest of a child’s life can be affected school and how teachers understand and

support them. Fluency by what happens at

can be influenced by the classroom atmosphere and

environment. It is crucial to recognise that as children mature and become more self-aware their behaviour may change as they try to disguise their difficulties. Teachers also need to be conscious of how peers react and the risk of bullying or teasing and build confidence to contribute verbally. To reduce attention being drawn to them, children who stammer may prefer to stay quiet in the classroom, but this is not a solution. Supporting a child with simple steps can increase mental well-being and prevent feelings of isolation, loneliness and frustration that have been typically experienced by pupils who stammer.

*accord rdining to re researc rch fi finindinings publilisished by by ASC.C. 91

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