We were very concerned about our low representation of parents of pupils in mainstream schools, so we launched our outreach project. We sent an information pack to all SENCOs/Inclusion Officers in all of Harrow’s schools and colleges. We followed it up with phone calls and emails. We had a great response from some SENCOs/Inclusion officers. They invited us to visit them, take part in their coffee mornings, SEND workshops and information events. We shared information with parents and gave them updates on the development of the SEND reforms in Harrow. Many parents gave us their email addresses.
We achieved many of our objectives, which included increasing our membership by 67 new members and testing whether parents are getting information. One of the areas we still need to work on is to create trained parent champions in each school to help us reach even more families and eventually more mainstream parent reps. We have had interest from a few parents and hope to meet many more as SENCOs/Inclusion officers invite us into more schools. Our focus has also been looking at the all the mainstream schools’ website to make sure they are up-to-date and has all the information parents need to help them make informed choices about appropriate schools.
All schools and colleges are required by law to have SEND information on their website which includes Information Reports and a link to the council’s Local Offer website. We were invited to the SENCO Forum on 3rd May to talk to SENCOs about our project. We asked the SENCOs to consider including a ‘SEND tab’ on each school website so that parents can find all the SEND information in one place. We also asked them to look at the language they use and make them more parent-friendly. SENCOs said they were concerned that some parents did not like the term ‘disabled’, so we agreed we will try to make sure they know the SEND law includes all children with any ‘special educational needs’ too. We are gathering information for a report of our findings soon. Please visit our website for our original project aims and objectives.