School attendance: a guide for parents
Responsibilities of parents in relation to a child's attendance at school and support available if attendance is a problem.
Part 2: Support in school
All children have the right to an education that meets their needs and supports them to achieve their potential. To be able to take part in learning every child needs to be safe and happy at school.
Every child is entitled to the personal or additional support they need to make sure they are engaged in learning.
This section of the booklet gives information about what your child is entitled to and what schools should do to help if there is anything which means your child is not getting the most from school.
If you have worries or concerns about your child's experience of school you should speak with the school directly. If you do not feel able to do this, or are unhappy with how your child's school is supporting your child, there are other agencies that can help. Please see the end of this booklet for more information on sources of information, support and help.
What personal support can my child expect in school?
Every member of staff in a school should be committed to ensuring children are taking part in learning and the life of the school. Sometimes a school will have a named teacher or teachers who have a special responsibility for what a school might call guidance or pastoral care or personal support. In secondary schools the school might have a team of teachers who look after personal support. In a primary school it might be your child's class teacher or a Deputy Head or Headteacher. If you want to know who is responsible in your child's school for personal support ask the school.
Teachers with responsibility for personal support should:
- Be available so that you or your child can talk to them and get information or support.
- Build good relationships with you and your child.
- Be aware of problems that might lead to your child being off school and find out from you why your child is off school.
- Be part of any plan that is made with other agencies to support your child with learning or attendance at school.
- Support your child get back into school if they have been off for some time.
What can I do if I feel my child is not getting the support they need to attend school?
If your child is struggling with school attendance, or is getting support with learning or behaviour, all the professional people that support you and your child should work well together. They should keep in touch with you about the support your child needs or is being given.
If you are not getting any support or you have worries or questions about what is available for you and your child the first step in talking about your concerns is to contact your child's school. Ask to speak to someone who has responsibility for personal support or for managing the additional support for learning that is provided.
You might be a bit nervous or worried about doing this. If you are in contact with another worker from another agency they might help and support you to do this. You can take another person to meetings in school to support and advise you.
At the end of this booklet there are contact details for helping agencies who can give information and advice.
Why are pupils excluded?
Exclusion from school should be considered a last resort and exclusion should only be used to maintain safety and order for other pupils or for staff. Schools can provide a range of activities and placements to address reasons for non-attendance; these should be interesting and help your child to relate to school work and feel involved in the life of the school. A school should not exclude a pupil as a punishment for non-attendance.
The Scottish Government has issued guidance about how and when exclusion can be used. Schools are encouraged to work with other services in the Council and with voluntary sector agencies to support children to help avoid the use of exclusion or to help put in place the support a child needs to get them back in to school.
If your child is excluded the school has a responsibility to support the child to continue their learning while off school and to help them catch up on their return to school. Exclusion is a serious matter and if you are worried about the risk of your child being excluded, or want to know more about what support your child is entitled to if they are excluded, you can contact one of the helping agencies listed at the back of this booklet.
What is mediation?
The job of a mediator is to be independent and to help you, your child and your school to find a solution to any problem when your efforts to work together have broken down.
You may be able to use a mediation service to help sort out problems about personal support your child needs, or additional support for learning needs, or why your child was excluded from school.
If, in addition to your local conciliation or mediation service, you need help with mediation about additional support for learning you can contact RESOLVE : ASL. They are an independent mediation service available in Scotland which has been set up to help resolve conflict about additional support needs in education. Contact details are at the back of this booklet.
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