This is something I get contacted about a lot so I've decided to write a mini post about it.
Trust me, schools can be a mine-field when you're trying to get your child the right help.
But honestly, it's important that no matter what you remember - schools are not mental health institutions, teachers are not mental health professionals and deep down they really do want to help.
Let's jump straight into two of the main issues I've been troubleshooting lately:
If neither of these are relevant it's up to you whether you read on but you never know, you may just find out something useful that you'll need in the future!
1. My school has said my child is aggressive and they may get expelled (but they've never reported this before).
I get it, you're probably completely taken back by what's going on.
These are the key points of where the school is coming from:
But, they really should have involved you from the beginning. You should have had an idea that it was coming long before you get slapped with an expulsion notice!
Here's what you need to do:
Jump on their website and download a copy of their 'behaviour policy'.
Read through it and check to see if the school has followed their own procedures with reporting, and to find out why they are saying it's expulsion, not suspension.
Now, all schools have very strict policies with regards to complaints procedures and while in the good ole days you could have gone straight to Ofsted they will not listen to you unless you have done this first (these are in order of 'escalation' procedures).
I'm sorry it's a long process but it means the LA & Ofsted actually have the time to delve into cases they need to.
Definitely write a letter rather than just having a chat because you will have a chain of evidence.
If your child is expelled you will have the opportunity to appeal the decision and make your case to the head teacher, some school governors and a representative of the local authority so please don't worry. If the school have not followed procedures it may be overturned.
You may even come up with an interim suspension where your child receives the behavioural help and then returns to the school.
2. My school has said my child has ADHD but I just thought they were being themselves.
Remember the comment above? Teachers are not mental health professionals...
ADHD is not an easy disorder to diagnose.
But, if your child has ADHD the behaviours your child is expressing at school will also be evident at home. In fact, this is one of the defining features of the disorder.
If a child shows some symptoms at school but not at home (and vice versa), then it can't be ADHD.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder - meaning your child's brain will be wired differently and so they can't just switch it off and on.
Here's what you need to do:
Find out why they think your child has ADHD.
Find out in specifics.
You want to know exactly what your child is doing that makes them suspect - and always ask what the context was. For example:
Then ask them to keep a diary of the 'suspected' ADHD behaviours and let them know you will do the same at home - for a minimum of 2 weeks.
After this time get together and see what you've both recorded.
If you are both seeing the same thing, regardless of context then these are going to help you get the diagnosis you want.
If however, the school is seeing one thing and you are seeing something completely different then I would ask them kindly not to use the label ADHD, and instead to uncover what really might be going on...
I hope these have helped you gain a little insight into how you can work with your school to get the best possible support for your child.
The school staff really do want to help, they just may not know how to.
Happy parenting! & I'll catch up with you soon - Katie
P.S. Did you know Katie runs an exclusive group for parent's called the positive parenting community where they have the opportunity to get help like this on a weekly basis? There's also a load of resources and some other great reasons to become a member... Click the button below to find out more:
Katie Woodland - A developmental, and holistic psychologist who specialises in educating and empowering individuals, business leaders & school teachers to remove mental health as a barrier to success.
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