PaCC work with schools
Young people are expected to spend a huge amount of their time at school, and for some, it’s a place they really struggle to attend. Strong communication and relationships between home and school are so important to get the best for children and young people – particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Working directly with schools has been a key priority for PaCC, and we have been attending the primary and secondary Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) forums for a number of years, in order to reach a wide range of schools.
We now also meet regularly with secondary headteachers, which started during the pandemic when PaCC fed back about the difficulties we were hearing on the ground. This included the challenges of home learning; anxiety about returning to school and issues such as masks and exemptions. More recently, we have broadened our discussions to non-Covid issues.
Our termly Hidden Children online surgeries have focused on part-time reduced timetables and reasonable adjustments. PaCC also consulted with families about school attendance and fed back themes to the headteachers, including the ‘push factors’ behind anxiety such as bullying or sensory overwhelm. We also highlighted the fact that some children responded very positively to working at home during lockdown (‘pull factors’).
The heads have told us about their joint work to decrease school suspensions and exclusions using a restorative justice approach, with PaCC providing a parent carer perspective. As children and young people with SEND are more at risk of exclusions and PaCC is supportive of this approach. John McKee, (Head at Patcham High which has a no exclusion policy), is leading on this work:
“Finding common ground on school exclusions has really helped to further strengthen our relationship with PaCC. And having a great communication link with parents and carers, afforded to us through our half termly meetings, is invaluable.”
PaCC has also been working with schools on specific projects, including reviewing school triage of children and young people with social emotional or mental health difficulties to ensure they get the right support.
Our conversations aren’t always straightforward, particularly in the context of schools with stretched budgets, Covid impacts and the wide range of needs in secondary schools. But it is clear that we have the same fundamental aim: getting the best for children and young people. PaCC feel that these meetings are a positive step towards improving joint working for the benefit of our children.