How to improve communications with parents of children with SEND

Thursday, 25 April 2024 by Weduc

Improving communications with parents of children with SEND

According to the latest government report, over 1.5 million pupils in England have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The percentage of pupils with an EHC plan has increased to 4.3% since 2022 and the percentage of pupils with SEN but no EHC plan has increased to 13% since 2022. This accounts for a total of 17.3% of the school population, regardless of the type of school.

In particular, the most common type of support needs are speech, language and communication needs. It makes sense, then, that there is a clear need for schools to prioritise their communications with the families of children with SEND. Especially considering the positive effect we know parent teacher communications can have on academic outcomes.


Common challenges faced by children with SEND

Not only are the numbers of children with SEND increasing year-on-year, but these children are also less likely to feel safe in school and less likely to believe they will have a better life than their parents. In addition, a 2023 survey from the Children’s Commissioner’s found that SEND children were more likely than other children to say they often or always felt lonely.

Yet, despite the knowledge that children with SEND need a higher level of support than their peers, they face a number of barriers to getting this support. For example, having to meet certain thresholds for qualification, waiting times, and under or misdiagnosis.

All this alongside the fact that many children with SEND attend mainstream education, rather than specialised education which is designed for their additional needs. This means that they also have to contend with accessibility barriers, such as inaccessible toilets and even playgrounds.


The right of all children to an education 

Yet, fundamentally, all children have the right to an education that enables them to fulfil their potential. In particular, UNICEF outlined the principles of inclusive education, which refers to the ideal of “fair access to learning for all.” This means that schools have a responsibility to make education inclusive for children of all abilities, while also supporting their parents to engage in their education.

This is particularly important because some developmental conditions are hereditary, such as autism spectrum disorder. Consequently, there’s a high likelihood that the parents of SEND children will also have a similar condition or need.

For this reason, it’s particularly important to take a unique approach to communication with the parents and families of children with SEND. By doing so, you can enable these parents to better engage with their child’s education and potentially improve educational outcomes for their children.


How to better engage with the parents of children with SEND 

  1. Keep things to the point

Not only are parents of children with SEND more likely to have additional needs themselves but they’re also more likely to have more on their plate in general. For example, their child is more likely to need additional care at home as well as at school. As a consequence, they may have less time on their hands to read and engage with school communications. This means these parents are likely to appreciate communication that gets straight to the point, such as short, simple communications that do away with pleasantries and get straight to what they actually need to know.

  1. Send helpful reminders

In particular, they may appreciate communication that reminds them of things their child is reliant on them to remember. For example, if they have a child with ADHD, their child may forget the materials or equipment they need on a day-to-day basis or that they have homework to complete for a deadline. So, not only is the parent having to remember all their own commitments, but they also need to be able to remember their child’s commitments as well. Using a communications app, such as ReachMoreParents, that enables schools to send push notifications can be really helpful here.

  1. House all communications in one place

It can be especially confusing for busy parents who potentially also have additional needs to receive lots of communications via different channels. If they have additional needs themselves and struggle with working memory, they may find it difficult to hold information in their mind and need to check communications a lot.

But when they don’t know which of several channels they received a message through, it can be exasperating trying to find it to get the information they need. That’s why housing all your communications under one parent communications app, such as ReachMoreParents, can be particularly helpful for these parents.

  1. Use visual imagery

Considering children with SEND are more likely to feel unsafe or lonely at school, parents of children with SEND are more likely to worry about their child’s experiences at school. Are they enjoying themselves? Do they feel looked after? Are they able to engage in their education? These are all questions that may be flying through the heads of parents of children with SEND at any given moment. So, giving them visual updates on their child’s day can be really helpful for easing these concerns.

In fact, one of our customers is a school specifically for children with SEND, and they have commented how useful the newsfeed feature on the ReachMoreParents communications app is for this purpose. The newsfeed can be used to give updates on what’s going on in the classroom throughout the day, so that parents can easily stay in the loop and feel informed.

  1. Use software that enables two-way communication

For parents of children with SEND, it’s particularly important to create an environment in which they feel they are being heard. After all, no one knows their child’s needs better than them, so it makes sense for there to be open two-way communication between educational staff and these parents.

This way, parents can input whenever they need, without feeling like they need to shout to be heard. Similarly, if school staff have any concerns or questions, they can quickly reach out to the parent without each conversation needing to feel like a formal process.


How can ReachMoreParents help?

By far, the easiest way to achieve all this is through a parent communication app that can securely house communication between school staff and parents.

This way, parents of children with SEND can find, receive and provide all the information they need in one place. Whether its updates on the school day via the newsfeed, direct communication with their child’s teacher or a notification that their child is going to be absent from school due to illness. Plus, with the option of digital communications, parents with potential additional needs who may find things like talking on the phone more difficult have the option of a communications platform that may feel easier for them.

With the ReachMoreParents app, parents can rest assured that their data is safe and their communications are only going to the member of staff their intended for. In addition, teachers and other staff can set quiet hours, so that their free time remains their free time.  


Let’s talk

With our range of software designed to further communication with all parents, the ReachMoreParents platform can empower your school to communicate effectively with the parents of children with SEND.

To find out more about how the ReachMoreParents platform can be used to support your school, click here to book a discovery call at a time that suits you, drop us a line via our enquiry form, or give us a call on 01509 221 349.



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