Working in partnership

When a child or young person is different at home and school

Engage in a collaborative approach with parents or carers and the child or young person to establish and reduce possible triggers in either setting.

When a child or young person is behaving better at school than home, be mindful to reassure their parents or carers that school can be a more consistent environment and their child may be following the social norms around them. However, some children and young people mask their anxieties until they go home, so exploring what can happen at school to reduce the child or young person’s stress will be supportive to families.

Understanding why parents and carers might avoid involvement

Be mindful that proactive approaches and positive relationships can overcome these potential barriers for parent or carers:

  • Unpleasant memories of school
  • Children and young people forbidding them to ‘make a fuss’
  • The tendency to only get involved if there’s a problem
  • Infrequent communication from the setting
  • Struggling to get into school
  • Thinking it’s best to leave teaching to qualified teachers
  • Not having enough information to act on
  • Language barriers
  • Not understanding the ‘jargon’
  • Parents’ evenings feeling too stressful

Removing barriers when this happens

Work hard to build and maintain trust:

  • Be accessible, open and transparent.
  • Use approaches and systems that make it easy for parents and carers to make contact.
  • Act with honesty and integrity.
  • Recognise when it is a bad day for a parent or carer, (for example if they are in pain or in a low mood).
  • Be empathetic – able to empathise and provide emotional support as required.
  • Provide advocacy and/or support self-advocacy for families as required.
  • Be flexible and responsive, and willing to consider new opportunities.
  • Be open to change and compromise.
  • Be solution focused, making things happen.

Preparing for difficult conversations

This could be when there is a disagreement between parents or carers and school or between family members about the best course of action for a child or young person.

Be prepared by:

  • Discussing your concerns with a line manager before and after the meeting if necessary to consider the best approach to resolving the situation. However, it is important parents and carers don’t feel a decision has been made before they arrive.
  • Being polite and welcoming and thank the parent carer or family member who is bringing their concerns for raising them.
  • Acknowledging angry or critical feelings as upset feelings and validate this emotion for example; “I can see you are upset this happened and understand this.”
  • Starting a potentially difficult conversation or meeting by saying that we know there are/will be different perspectives but everybody’s concern is the best outcome for the child or young person so let’s work hard together to find a way to find a way forward to achieving this.
  • Beginning and ending with a positive.
  • Trying to proactively ‘resolve’ potential issues with the parent or carer before the meeting.
  • Apologising if mistakes have been made or there has been miscommunication and avoid being defensive.
  • Remaining calm, reasonable and professional.
  • Having information available to help parent and carers understand the situation better.
  • Being prepared to offer help to the parent or carer including signposting to parent support forums, Rotherham Parent Carer Forum, etc.
  • Keeping to scheduled meetings and avoiding drop ins but be prepared to be responsive to family members who are upset.
  • Inviting an appropriate colleague to listen and support without prejudice.
  • Suggesting to family members they may wish to bring a friend or another member of the family to support them.
  • Ending a meeting professionally if the conversation is becoming too difficult or confrontational; attempt to arrange a follow up conversation when things are calmer.
  • Always following up the meeting’s actions promptly including minutes and documentation.