Having Successful Meetings
You have the right to request a meeting with any of the team of professionals involved with your child or young person. There are a variety of reasons that you might want to ask for a meeting and these may include concerns about:
- your child’s progress
- how any special educational needs/disability your child may have are being met
- your child's Individual Support Plan (ISP)
- your child’s barriers to school attendance, how this is being supported and the impact on their education
It is important to take a list that you made prior to the meeting of important issues you feel need to be addressed.
Preparing for a Meeting
Be clear why you want to have a meeting. Who do you need to meet with. If the issues are school related, you may want to meet with your child’s class teacher or form tutor, the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) or Head Teacher.
There may be other professionals involved with your child from outside of the school, such as a speech and language therapist, school nurse, social worker, specialist tutor etc. who you would also like to attend.
If the issues are relating to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan), your child will have a named EHC Co-ordinator who you can also speak to or invite from the Local Authority.
How do I Organise a Meeting?
- request a meeting by calling the relevant people and agreeing a date, time and place that is convenient to everyone.
- request a meeting by emailing or writing a short letter that includes who you want to meet with, the issues you would like to discuss and times and dates you will be available.
- ask the school to arrange a meeting.
Getting Ready for a Meeting
If you are invited to a meeting, it may help to find out who will be at the meeting. If you are unsure, you can ask the person running the meeting what they do and what their role is. Find out what will be discussed at the meeting, how long it will last and where and when the meeting will be held.
Before the meeting ask what will be discussed and if there is an agenda you can be given. Ask for a copy of the most recent paperwork which records and monitors the support that your child is receiving within their education setting. For example an Individual Support Plan (ISP) if they have one. You can read the paperwork before the meeting and make notes.
Write a list of things you want to say and questions you want to ask and to take it to the meeting.
It can also help to write down your description of your child’s abilities and celebrations as well as what difficulties you think he or she may be having.
Take with you any documentation that may be needed to refer to e.g. medical letters or reports.
You may wish to take someone with you to the meeting for support (a friend, relative or supporter). Let the person organising the meeting know in advance who you will bring with you.
If a SENDIASS Officer attends a meeting, please be aware that we aim to empower you to feel confident to say the things that you want to say and feel listened to. We are not an advocacy service and as an impartial service, we do not favour either side or have influence over the outcome of any meeting.
Are there specific things that you want to happen as a result of the meeting? What are you willing to compromise on? List the things you want to happen in order of importance. Be realistic about what you are going to be asking for. You may need to negotiate and be flexible to different options or alternatives offered.
Your Child or Young Person's Views
Children and young people should be supported in preparing for meetings to discuss and review their SEND provision. They should be enabled to express their views and contribute to discussions – in whatever means is appropriate. Actions agreed should be realistic and be driven by individualised, person-centred outcomes.
While preparing for a meeting, you could discuss some of the points below with your child:
- What do they enjoy?
- Do they have any worries?
- Is there anything they would like to ask their teachers?
- Is there anything they think would help them?
- Is there anything that is not helping them?
- What would they like to change?
- Is there a member of staff at the school or college that works closely with your child or young person? If so, would the child or young person like them to be present for support?
- Would your child or young person prefer to voice their opinions through pictures, posters, drawings etc?
What Should You Take With You?
- Your pre meeting notes
- Note pad and pens
- Relevant reports or letters to share or refer to
- Other useful information (e.g. your own research)
- Your questions, views or concerns if not captured within your notes
- You know your child best
- Be prepared
- Keep an open mind
If you are unfamiliar with virtual meetings, this may seem daunting. Below are some tips to help with this. You can prepare for a virtual meeting in the same way as you would for a face-to-face meeting, as detailed above.
Know in advance what meeting software or ‘platform’ is going to be used, for example Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Google Meet. Check you have been sent a link to the meeting – it might come as an email or a calendar invitation, or it may have gone into a ‘junk’ folder.
If you are unsure about using a new platform, you can ask if you can have a practice run before the meeting with the person who sent you the invite. If you can’t do a practice, it’s a good idea to check with the person hosting the meeting whether the internet browser you use will work with the meeting platform.
Ask for a phone number you can call on the day, in case you have problems getting into the meeting or need help.
If you plan on using video during your call, remember that what is behind you will be seen by everyone attending the meeting. You may want to find somewhere comfortable and quiet, ideally where you won’t be disturbed.
If your child, young person or partner is taking part in the meeting, work out how that’s going to happen. Will they sit with you or join separately on another phone or tablet? If they are using a separate device, it is better to be in separate rooms or use headphones so there is no sound echo. Using the ‘mute’ function when not speaking can also help to reduce this issue.
Your invitation will have a link to join the meeting- you may be asked to download or install an app. This shouldn’t be necessary, and there should be an option to join on the web. You should be asked to enter your name and turn on your camera and microphone as needed. You may then have to wait a few moments to be added to the virtual room.
It’s important to know that if you are connected to wi-fi and following the link to join the meeting, the call should be free. However, if you dial in using the phone number listed on the invitation instead, there will be a cost. If you are attending a virtual meeting by phone call instead of using an internet connection, ask the person hosting the meeting to call you and invite you at the start of the meeting so you don’t end up with an unexpected bill.
When the meeting starts, the host should explain how to use the platform- including how to ask to speak (if necessary), how to mute and unmute your microphone and how to change your view if you can’t see who is in the meeting or who is speaking. If you are unsure about anything you can ask.
Introductions should be made so everyone is clear about who is at the meeting and their role. Again, if you are unsure about who anyone is you should ask.
It’s a good idea to mute your microphone when not speaking to keep background noise at a minimum.
You don’t have to use video, but most people find it easier if they can see each other in virtual meetings- but that is your choice.
If your internet connection is poor, it can help to turn off any video background filters if you have them set, or even to turn off video altogether to improve the sound quality.
Be sure to treat a virtual meeting like any other, to follow the agenda and speak up if something you wish to talk about is missed. Make sure you have time to say your views and opinions. Try to be positive and use the time you have to focus on what can be improved and try to focus on solutions.
If the meeting is not being recorded- everyone attending would have to give permission to do so- then it’s a good idea to take notes, just as you would in any other meeting.
As with all meetings, don’t feel pressured into agreeing to anything you’re unsure about, ask for time to think about any decisions.
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