LAOCH & Gort Community School
Communication with Parents/Guardians Policy
LAOCH recognises parents as stakeholders and the need for clear and effective communication with parents to ensure students are gaining the most from their education.
Some students with ASD may not be able to communicate a message from home or express feelings or anxieties about their school day due to social or executive functioning deficits therefore good communication with parents is essential.
Methods of Communication:
Communications can take a variety of forms: written (notes in home-school communication diaries or school journals, through letters, text messages or email) or verbal (by telephone or through arranged meetings). Occasionally a communication may be received second hand or through an intermediary e.g. the bus escort e.g. reminders of school closures or reason for absences only.
(i) Home-school communication diaries:
As many students had home-school communication diaries in primary school and parents were used to this form of communication, school management and LAOCH staff decided to continue the practice. Staff members write in these books as often as time allows, daily if possible. A summary of work completed in classes, progress, materials needed, upcoming trips, sports events or behavioural issues can be recorded here. Parents are asked to let us know they have read each message by ticking or signing their initials at the end of the message each day.
These books are for daily communication between home and school and examples of items that parents may communicate to the school through the home-school communication book are:
- Doctors Certs explaining school absences. Parental note in School Journal explaining absences or lateness to school.
- The student is upset or anxious about a matter that could affect their ability to work in school.
- The student is tired or has not slept the night before.
- The student has been absent or will be out of school for a prolonged period of time.
- There are changes in medication and their effects, if relevant.
- There have been changes in family circumstances.
- Occasional queries that may arise.
- Appointments with HSE/CAMHS or other services arise.
- Parents are encouraged to inform staff of family outings, shopping trips, visits etc. to help us prompt communication with the student about their life outside of school, if the student is unable to do so themselves.
Procedure for Use :
Students place their home-school communication diaries on the teachers desk every morning as part of their morning routine. During the day, staff have the opportunity to review notes from home and /or write in them throughout the school day. Issues arising from communications in the home-school diaries may be photocopied and placed in the student’s file.
In the promotion of independence, it is the responsibility of the student to collect their diary every evening and place their book into their own bag each evening.
More independent students are encouraged to also relay messages themselves – the student may write a reminder in their school journal.
(ii) Letters home:
The school sends letters home with information on school calendar, school outings and permission slips. These notes will be in the School Journal. Any notes relating directing to ASD Classroom trips etc. will be in the Communication Diary.
(iii) Text messages:
A text messaging service is used occasionally to send reminders of school events e.g. non-uniform days, whole school events etc. and urgent information e.g. school closures. This service does not receive text messages back, it is for notifications only.
LAOCH can be contacted via email email@example.com for queries regarding LAOCH issues. It may not be possible to reply to emails immediately, please allow for a period of 24 hours for a response.
Subject Teachers/Class Tutors and Year Heads can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
- All calls to subject teachers/Class Tutors and Year Heads to go through reception. The call will be returned at the teachers earliest convenience.
- All calls to LAOCH also go through reception. The secretaries will see if a teacher in LAOCH is available for a call . If not, they will note the message and pass it to the Classroom co-ordinator who will return the call at her earliest convenience. Teachers will not leave their class or supervision to take a call.
If a telephone message gets no immediate reply, it is because there has been no available opportunity for the member of staff to return your call. Staff members will try to return the call before the end of the school day where possible.
If a parent rings with an urgent issue e.g. medical condition, please indicate this to the receptionist who will notify the LAOCH coordinator/Class Tutor/Year Head/ Deputy Principal or Principal.
An ‘Update of Contacts’ form is sent out to parents at the start of each academic year to ensure the school has the correct details in case of emergency. Parents are also asked to fill out page 6 of the Student Journal with contacts details of two nominated people who will take responsibility of student if parents/guardians are unavailable.
Parent Teacher Review meeting:
Every student will have their year group Parent Teacher meeting, this date will be on school correspondence. Attendance is proven to benefit the student long-term.
In addition, students in LAOCH have a review meeting that takes place in October/November to discuss the student’s I.E.P./Profile. Parents are notified in advance of the meeting and a reminder is written into the home-school communication diary or school journal a week in advance. The first year IEP/Profile is not drafted until after the parents meeting. The coordinator of the ASD Classroom meet the parents and if possible another teacher(s) may be substituted for a short time to meet the parents also. At this meeting, the student targets for the year are discussed. This provides parents the opportunity to voice any issues they wish to highlight for their son/daughter progress for the rest of that year.
Other meetings requested by parents: A meeting in relation to a student’s education in addition to the annual review meeting must be booked in advance in writing/email and addressed to the LAOCH coordinator or the Principal/Deputy Principal/Year Head. In this letter parents must outline the reason for this meeting. The coordinator or the Principal/Deputy Principal/Year Head will inform the parents of an available date and time taking into account the time constraints of the school timetable.
If a student’s progress targets are reviewed in an additional meeting, parents must allow time for due process to take place, for the changes to be implemented and to allow time (at least four weeks) for reflection and evaluation. Further communications on topics previously discussed will not be possible until staff feel the need to provide feedback to parents as arranged in the meeting.
Minutes of all meetings are taken and communicated with the Principal and relevant LAOCH staff members. These records are then filed in the Student File.
Other meetings scheduled by school personnel: The school will facilitate meetings with parents and outside agencies e.g. Occupational Guidance and NEPS as the appropriate stage and/or when the need arises.
COMMUNICATION WITH BUS ESCORTS
We appreciate the current practice where parents text the bus escort the evening before or earlier in the morning to notify them if the student is not attending school that day. They may provide a brief reason for the absence e.g. ill, medical appointment, family reason etc. The bus escort may communicate reminders of school closures and early finishes to parents also.
The bus escorts cannot carry messages between home and school as they are employed for the care needs of all students on the bus, communication second hand from another party cannot be received/delivered through the escort. No communication can be delivered to the bus driver he is employed for transport of the designated journey only as sanctioned by the Department of Transport Inspector.
- The school procedures such as our Code of behaviour, Contact with Class Teacher, Signing in and out at reception apply to ALL students.
- While our aim will always be resolution of issues for the welfare of the student, we cannot overburden staff and parents with ongoing meetings. Teaching staff reserve the right not to meet with parents on an ongoing issue or where it affects their primary role in teaching and learning. The Deputy Principal/Principal will intervene if this arises.
- Meetings with SNAs will not be facilitated. Any messages for support staff will be conveyed through the coordinator or Deputy Principal/Principal as deemed appropriate.
- All visitors to the school, including parents, must report to the reception office. Visitors cannot go straight to the ASD Classroom for the privacy and our duty of care to all students.
- The staff of LAOCH and Gort Community School are not contactable outside of school hours and will not discuss school issues outside of the school setting.
- Gort Community School staff are compliant with GDPR and do not discuss a student’s information with other students or parents. Information is only shared with outside agencies with permission of the parent e.g., a parent must sign a request for a NEPS psychologist to become involved with their child.
- If a parent has a concern regarding another student’s welfare or a staff member they must communicate this to the Deputy Principal/Principal only