What kind of information should be available to parents from their child’s school?

Complaints procedure

The majority of concerns can be resolved informally by discussing the matter with the relevant member of school/academy staff. If you are not satisfied with the response you can ask the school or the academy for a copy of their complaints policy, which will outline how to make a complaint and the steps that they will take to respond and resolve the issue.

Schools complaints policy should be on the website for you to access. We also have some guidance on ‘compliment, concerns and complaints’ on our website under Information, Advice and Support – www.sendadvicesurrey.org.uk

Feedback at parents’ evenings and consultations

Parents’ evenings or consultations provide an opportunity to look at your child’s work and to discuss progress with the teacher or teachers. However, you may be limited to a 5 or 10 minute session and if you have a lot to discuss you might find it helpful to:

  • write to the teacher before the meeting to let them know the issues you want to raise or
  • ask for an alternative appointment to allow more time for discussion.  

Home school agreements

All schools must have a home-school agreement which explains the aims and values of the school and spells out the responsibilities of pupils, parents and the school on such things as:

  • maintaining discipline and positive behaviour
  • regular attendance
  • homework
  • maintaining a positive and happy learning environment
  • the school’s commitment to its pupils
  • what is expected of parents and pupils.This maybe within a policy.

Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Provision Map (IPM) Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) who require additional support from the school may have an individual provision map (IPM) or individual education plan (IEP). This is sometimes called an action plan because it should describe:

  • what the child’s special needs are
  • how the school aims to meet those needs and the type of help that is to be provided
  • targets for the child to work toward and
  • how the school will measure success and how often the plan will be reviewed.

It is considered good practice for parents to be consulted about the plan and for the plan to contain information about what parents can do at home to reinforce what is happening at school. Schools should invite parents to attend the review of the plan.  

Your child’s school records

As a parent, you have a right to access your child’s educational record. This covers information such as the records of the pupil’s academic achievements as well as correspondence from teachers, local education authority employees and educational psychologists engaged by the school’s governing body. It may also include information from the child and from you, as a parent.

In England you should make the request in writing to the Board of Governors. A request for an educational record must receive a response within 15 school days.

There are certain circumstances where the school can withhold an educational record, for example, where the information might cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the pupil or if the information you want involves information about another person. You can find out more at: www.ico.gov.uk        

Freedom of Information requests

Since 1 January 2005 there has been a legal right for any person to make a request to a school for access to information held by that school. Schools must respond within 20 working days of receipt (not including school holidays).

The request must be in writing, which includes fax or email. The enquirer is entitled to be told whether the school holds the information and if so, to have access to it. However, the school is sometimes entitled to refuse a request, for example if the information is sensitive or confidential.

More detailed guidance is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office – www.ico.gov.uk

Newsletters

Most schools send regular newsletters to parents giving information about school life, for example events and activities, school in service closures, staff changes, important dates etc.

Policies

Schools must have written policy statements and procedures on matters relating to the effective running of the school. These policies must be made available to parents on request.

Since September 2012, schools must publish online details of the school’s policies on behaviour, charging and SEND provision. For those parents who cannot access the internet or who find hard copies of materials more accessible, the new regulations require schools to continue to provide a hard copy where parents request it, this can be simply met by printing a hard copy of the online information.

A list of all policies which schools must have by law is available at: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/toolsandinitiatives/cuttingburdens/a00201669/statutory-policies-for-schools

Prospectus

Since September 2012, schools no longer have to publish a prospectus. However, most schools still maintain a prospectus for new or prospective parents. The prospectus normally contains useful information about the school, for example, which subjects are studied, the length of the school day, details of the school uniform, out of school activities, health matters etc.

SEND Information Report

Under the special educational needs and/or disability (SEND) reforms each school is required to provide information for parents on how they support children and young people with SEND.

There are two main sources of SEND information that parents can access from a schools website:

  • SEND Polices
  • SEND Information reports

A schools SEND Information Report and SEND Policy are intended to be two distinct documents.

What’s the difference between a SEND policy and a SEND information report?

SEND policies:

SEND policies and procedures contain technical information and detail. The law says all schools must have policies that say what they do. SEND policies are just one of the policies a school will have.

They should be based on a shared understanding of the schools mission, values, vision and aims. They should include information about the laws and rules that shape the day to day processes of the school.

A policy should include:

  • A brief statement referring to relevant local guidelines, national regulations.
  • A list of groups, individuals and documents consulted when making the policy.
  • Cross-references to other documents, links to other policies where helpful
  • Roles and responsibilities of staff
  • Monitoring and evaluation arrangements, what evidence is used to show progress has been achieved.
  • Date the policy was established by the governing body and a date for review.
  • Signature of Chair of Governors or Chair of Committee

SEND information reports:

SEND information reports are intended to tell you how the school’s SEND policy is used:

– How help and support for pupils with SEND works in that setting.

– What happens and how, not what they aspire to.

The SEN information report should be written in a way that makes the information clear and meaningful for parents.