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What would get you to help your child's school with their disability and equality policy?

(13 Posts)
neolara Mon 12-Sep-11 20:41:54

My dcs' school is in the process of re-writing the Equality and Disability policy. They would very much like to get input from of parents about how well they currently do and how they could improve. I'm one of the governors and have been asked to draft a letter we can send out to parents asking them to volunteer to be part of a working group. What do you think would be the key things to mention to get people hooked and involved? We are particularly interested in gaining views from parents who have a disability themselves and also from those who have children with disabilities, whether the child is currently at the school or not. Previous attempts to ask for volunteers have resulted in very few responses.

And assuming that we manage to get anyone to volunteer, are there practical things that we could do to make it easier for people with disabilities to contribute?

I'd be VERY grateful for any ideas!

Tota1Xaos Mon 12-Sep-11 20:55:40

Allow people to make suggestions in writing, if they can't/don't want to go to meetings? Make it clear that level of time/commitment being part of the working group would be.

neolara Mon 12-Sep-11 20:59:33

Thank you. Good idea.

Anyone else? Please!!!

WilsonFrickett Mon 12-Sep-11 20:59:56

Find a way to set up the discussion that means they don't have to leave home - like could you set up a forum on your school's website to exchange ideas? I think it's always time that's the problem, and being able to leave DCs to go to meetings. Or could someone from the governers phone each parent for a 15-minute discussion (strictly timed!).

WilsonFrickett Mon 12-Sep-11 21:01:12

Or set up a survey-monkey thing (but I have no idea if that costs money, sorry!) which means someone else has to put the work into the draft, then the parents comment on it. Do it over a closed facebook group?

dolfrog Mon 12-Sep-11 21:11:49


I have been one of the patents who has a disability on one of those Disability Equality Duty exercises.
You need to tell the parents who have disabilities or have children with disabilities and or SEN issues, that the staff members of the committee, and the school as a whole are really interested in the real issues and that this is not a sham. Most parents at most schools in the UK do not believe you will take their opinions seriously or that the whole process would be a complete waste of their time.
That is how i felt after such a process, at my eldest sons school a couple of years ago. A complete waste of time, the governors and staff had their own agenda and did not want to listen to the concerns of parents of children who had any SEN issues or a disability. So you need to get the attitude of all the school staff correct before you start, so that parents feel their opinions are of value to those who run the school.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 12-Sep-11 21:12:12

I think many parents of children with SN would love to be a part of that, but the practicalities are usually what stops them.

Personally, I would THEM what would enable them to want to contribute.

neolara Mon 12-Sep-11 22:29:56

Thank you all for your ideas. Dolfrog - Can I ask, what did the school do that made your feel that your ideas were not listened to?

cory Mon 12-Sep-11 22:37:54

To me, the deciding factor would be whether I trusted the school not to take offence and use what I said against me. In the case of dd's junior school, I would have been afraid (for good reasons) that any criticism would tempt the head to defend himself by questioning my parenting and calling in Social Services. Otoh I would do anything to help her lovely secondary, and I would believe that they genuinely wanted help, to make the school as supportive as it could be.

dolfrog Tue 13-Sep-11 00:27:18


I do not think my stress levels would remain stable enough to finish the post if i listed everything.
But in summary. The school was a high performing schoolm omnly concerned with topping the A'level leagues, there was institutionalised disability discrimination which stemmed from the School management, in how they ran the school and even to the very low % of SEN the school had in comparison to the national average. The staff never looked at their SEN registers and never understood any of the SEN issues the children may have had, even after this so called consultation process. the questionaire we sent out, you could count the replies on your hands and a couple of toes, the parents of SEN children just did not want to waste their time when they knew from experience that the school did not want to listen to their concerns because the school did not want to spend any money on SEN only on getting better A'level results. I actually felt sorry for the Senco, who was fighting a very uphill battle to get any support in place for those who needed it.

So you need to have your all governors and all of the Schools management have meetings with the parents of all the SEN and disabled pupils, just to demonstrate that you mean to do something and not just a behind closed door paper exercise and carry on as if we do not exist.

signandsmile Tue 13-Sep-11 07:43:31

I agree with the above posts, for me organisations seem to get better responses if people believe it's not just a 'paper exercise', if there are a variety of ways to respond, and if people's time is valued, for example if there is a meeting are travel expenses paid? If you want people to take part in interviews or training for staff are the cost of care for any person being cared for, or child care, paid?

(PS I would love to be asked to do this by ds's school grin)

neolara Tue 13-Sep-11 09:47:57

Hmm. Thank you. Some interesting things to think about here. To be honest, you've raised some issues I would never have thought of.

How does this sound for a plan:
* Invite people to be part of a working group to be held at the school. Give clear expectations about what the commitment would be. Session to be led by governors so that parents feel they can give honest opinions without fear of repercussions or of offending staff. Governors to feed back to staff. Confidentially assured. Offer the opportunity to bring younger kids along.
* Offer opportunity to contribute to consultation in writing. Done through filling out a questionnaire. This can be either emailed or in paper form.
* Offer opportunity to contribute to consultation on-line through SurveyMonkey questionnaire.
*Ask parents if we could we do anything else that would make it easier for them to contribute? e.g. talk to them on the phone.
* Unfortunately, our our school will have to make savings / earn an additional £40,000 this year simply to maintain the current level of spending, so realistically, there is limited opportunity for paying for carers / travel expenses.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 13-Sep-11 13:49:04

Well expenses are not necessarily essential as presumably schools are usually local, but parents of children with disabilities can already feel quite used.

We have been the targets for so many cuts reforms recently, and LA are obliged to 'consult' with their clients. This consultation process is little more than producing a record that shows it ocurred, not that anything that was raised was given anything more than lip service, so no parents want to turn up to your meetings to be written about as having been a part of a consultatation about something that the school has already made their mind up about.

Terms of reference would be good. Agreement to implement around 50% of all suggestions from parents if they can suggest ways of doing it for free (An AMAZING number of improvements could be made for zero cost, but with hearts and minds), and that those on the working group will be able to vote for them. And if you have a budget, - tell them what it is. I don't think any parents would even WANT expenses if you needed a few quid to buy some screws to move a coat rack to a lower level for wheelchair users to reach.

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