How to resolve your concerns
If your child has Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and your are unhappy about the support they are receiving at school, there are a number of ways to raise and resolve your concerns.
Parents and carers have an important role in the partnership between schools and professionals and their child/young person. Many problems can be solved informally by talking to the teachers at your child's school. Before taking further action, make sure that you have shared your concerns.
If you are concerned about the progress your child is making at school, you should first talk to the class teacher. You can do this by asking to have a chat before or after school, a phone call or an email. If your child has additional learning needs you could also talk to your Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo). You may also talk to the headteacher.
If your concerns relate to the support your child is getting, you can ask to see the school's policy on Additional Learning Needs (ALN).
A phone call may reassure you about an issue concerning the local authority. If not, then put your concerns in writing.
My concern is about the support provided by school
'I have a disagreement with my child's school about support for Additional Learning Needs provided by the school. Who can help me?'
Many problems can be solved informally by talking to the teachers at your child's school. Before taking further action, make sure that you have shared your concerns.
- Every Early Years setting and school have a teacher who has particular responsibility for children with Additional Learning Needs and disabilities. This person is usually called the Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo). As well as sharing concerns with your child's class teacher, you should ask to talk to the ALNCo.
- You may also share your concerns with the headteacher.
- The setting/school may have someone whose job is specifically to support parents. They may be called a Family Worker, a Parent Support Advisor or something similar.
- The setting/school will also have parent governors and a governor with particular responsibility for Additional Learning Needs who you can ask to talk to if you are not happy after sharing your concerns with teachers and the headteacher.
My concern is about the specialist support provided by the local authority
'I have a disagreement with the local authority about support for Additional Learning Needs.'
All settings and schools are funded to support children with Additional Learning Needs. If your child has complex needs the local authority provide specialist resources. This may include specialist provision (for example, a special school or a learning resource centre or a part time placement in a learning centre). In some specific instances, the local authority provides specialist outreach support and/or individual support.
You can Additional Learning Needs and Inclusion Team to discuss your concerns.
My concern is about choice of schools
'I have a disagreement with the local authority about my choice of school.'
- All parents have a right in law to express a preference for the school they would like their child to go to. This is not the same as having a right to choose a school. If too many children want to go to a particular school, there will be rules about who has priority for a place. You may be given your preference of school, but you may not.
- Appeals concerning school allocations should be referred to your local authority: The appeal process. The Parent Partnership Service can offer helpful and impartial advice.
My concern is about disability discrimination
- Many problems can be solved informally by talking to the teachers at your child's school.
- Before taking further action, make sure that you have shared your concerns.
- You can speak to the local authority Parent Partnership Service for impartial advice and support.
What other help can I get?
- You may ask for a copy of the setting/school's Additional Learning Needs Policy.
- The Welsh Government has 3 publications known as: (1) The Special Needs Code of Practice for Wales; (2) Handbook of Good Practice for Children with Special Educational Needs and (3) Special Educational Needs: Information for parents and carers of children and young people who may have special educational needs. Available from the Welsh Assembly Publications Centre on: 02920 823683 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Each local authority Parent Partnership Service provides support and advice for families of children and young people with disabilities and/or Additional Learning Needs.
- ACE is a UK based charity that provides advice and information to parents and carers on a wide range of school based issues. They have a website with lots of information at: ACE Education Advice and Training and an advice line on 0808 800 5793. They have a free booklet about applying for a school place.
- IPSEA is a national charity providing free legally based advice to families who have children with special educational needs. All advice is given by trained volunteers. They have a website at: IPSEA and an advice line on 0800 018 4016.
In the first instance, your Parent Partnership Service can:
- Listen and discuss your concerns.
- Help families understand their rights and how to work in partnership with others.
- Help families communicate their views in writing or face to face.
- Help children and young people express their views and have their voices heard.
- Help families prepare for meetings, school visits and discussions with professionals.
- Offer support and representation at meetings.
'What if I've tried all this and I'm still not happy?'
You can ring the Parent Partnership Service for advice on what to do next. They should provide information and guidance about what help and support can reasonably be offered by settings and schools.
You can make a complaint: The school's prospectus and their policy on Additional Learning Needs should include complaints procedures for parents.
Your first step when making a formal complaint about issues in school should be to put your concerns in writing to the headteacher. If you are not satisfied with the response, then write to the Chair of Governors.
In certain circumstances, you can make a claim to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW) about disability discrimination in schools. Further information and the necessary forms are available at: Special Education Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW).