Top tips for SENDCos

Top tips for SENDCos

Working with families is a key part of the SENDCo role and positive engagement to collaboratively understand and support their child’s needs is imperative to successful outcomes.

The top tips have been put together by SENDCo’s for SENDCo’s (and other school staff) to remind you of key points which engender positive working relationships with families at the earliest stage, keeping the child at the centre.

Be prepared for discussions with families

Before you meet with parents, try to ensure you know what the child's needs are. You are not expected to be an expert in every condition, but you should know what your proposed next steps are so you can discuss options.

Keep a record

Make notes about what you want to discuss with parents. Be honest, open and transparent. If you do not know the answer to a question a parent asks, tell them that you will find out and come back to them.

Be empathetic, kind and genuine

Understand that the parent is the expert and knows their child better than anyone else. No parent wants their child to have more challenges than life already brings. Remember that some parents may not be ready to hear that their child needs support in school and may become emotional.

Agree on what to call them

Parents have previously said “Do not call me 'Mum' or 'Dad'. I am not your Mum or Dad, I am Mrs/Miss/Ms/Mx/Mr/ xxx”. Be open with parents asking how they would like to be addressed as they may prefer being called by their first name. This allows for trust and confidence in the working relationship they have with you.

Believe and respect the parents' knowledge

Believe and respect the knowledge parents have about their children. They aren’t just being overprotective so please don’t be dismissive when a parent is concerned at the early stages, even if the child has been of no concern for years at school. Also, believe that children can be very different in the safe place they call home compared to how they are in school.

Deliver on agreed actions

If you say you are going to do something, actually do it.

Be open and honest

Be open and honest working with families and admit if you've made a mistake. You are human, parents and children make mistakes too.


Keep communication channels open, but check what form of communication is best for the parent. Make sure you reply or acknowledge messages and remember that some parents do not have (and cannot afford) a computer or printer.

Think of children as individuals

Try to not talk about other children in the class who are better or worse. They have nothing to do with their child or their progress.

Be understanding

Working with families is key to supporting children in school, and building and maintaining a positive rapport is most important.

It is to be expected that parents may find the discussion around their child having additional needs difficult to understand and may become emotional. Be prepared for parents to react differently and be compassionate in your response.

Parents may need time to think and process the information you give them, so be ready to identify where they may need time to think and come back to you when they are ready to talk more. All parents and carers will have their own experiences and needs that will impact their emotions and how they respond.

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