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Advocating for your child at school

Starting school or moving to a new school will be a big change for you and your deaf child. They’ll be in a new environment experiencing lots of new things. You’ll need to advocate for them so that they’re supported and included in their education. 

Knowing your legal rights can help you to advocate for your child to make sure they get the support they need. Find out more about your child's legal rights in education. Sometimes, just showing that you’re aware of your rights can make advocating for your child easier and help solve problems.

For more information about additional support for learning (ASL) in Scotland, read about how ASL is provided in Scotland and visit the Enquire advice service website.

Holly is mum to Sybil (5), who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants. 

“It doesn’t come naturally to me to be a pushy parent, or to challenge professionals, but we knew something wasn’t right, deep in our guts, and we needed to be Sybil’s voice. Knowing we were doing this for her pushed us on, and when it came to choosing Sybil’s education we had to draw on our experience of advocating for her to ensure she was getting the right support.

"We felt that she would be best placed in our local mainstream school, and we went against the encouragement of the professionals we trusted and respected and chose a mainstream school rather than a hearing-impaired unit.”

Deaf awareness  

If your child is going to a school with limited or no experience of deafness, it can help to raise deaf awareness. As a parent, you can help raise deaf awareness by: 

  • talking to other parents about your child’s deafness and how they prefer to communicate 
  • handing out deaf awareness resources 
  • asking your child’s teacher or school if you or your child could do a presentation on deaf awareness for their class. 

Here are some deaf-friendly communication tips you could share. 

Tabassum is mum to Moji (13) who’s moderately to severely deaf.  

“My advice to other families would be to contact your child’s form tutor and encourage them to work out a solution with your child that doesn’t involve singling them out. You can also ask your child’s Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) to provide deaf awareness training to the school.”

Read Moji's story.

Resources to share 

Our postcards, posters and flyers can be a great way of raising deaf awareness in your child’s school. These include posters and postcards with: 

  • the British Sign Language (BSL) fingerspelling alphabet 
  • tips for hearing children for when they’re talking to your deaf child 
  • tips on communicating with your child for the adults working with them. 

You can order copies or download these resources to print yourself. 

We also have resources for teachers with practical tips for deaf-friendly teaching and inclusion in the classroom. See our resources for education professionals.

Personal passport

A personal passport is a document that brings together all the most important information about your child. It helps teachers, ToDs, school staff and club leaders get to know your child and how to support them.

Personal passports can include:

  • how your child communicates
  • how to get their attention
  • what they can and cannot hear (for example, they can hear speech but only in a quiet room)
  • what technology they use and when and how to use it (for example, they use hearing aids all day and spare batteries are kept in their bag) 
  • what they find challenging (for example, they get frustrated if they’re asked to repeat themselves) 
  • what can help them have a positive experience (for example, giving them regular breaks during activities)
  • how to keep them safe (for example, watch them closely as they sometimes wander off).

It’s a good idea to update your child’s personal passport at the start of each new school year. Involve your child as much as possible in creating their passport to help build their confidence in identifying their needs and asking for support.

Download our Personal passport templates.

Working in partnership with staff

You’re the expert when it comes to your child. Helping school staff understand your child’s needs is an ongoing effort between you, your child’s teachers and other education professionals.

It’s also important to know how your child is settling into their new environment when they transition to primary or secondary school, or they move schools.  Keeping up with how they’re doing will mean that you can deal with any problems or address issues quickly. The best way to do this is to build a relationship with your child’s teachers and to work closely and in partnership with the staff at your child’s school.


This is done primarily through Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC). GIRFEC is a national approach to promoting, supporting, and safeguarding the wellbeing of all children and young people.

GIRFEC tracks the wellbeing of children against whether they’re Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included (SHANARRI). Your child’s teachers should use SHANARRI to measure and share your child’s progress against these wellbeing indicators.


Before your child starts school or a new school year, you might like to:

  • arrange to chat with a small group of teachers to discuss what you’d like for your child and any general questions you may have
  • ask your child’s teacher about the best way to keep in touch once they’ve started
  • ask for the contact details of a key person you can contact if you have any concerns or would like further information on your child’s progress.

Progress updates

Once they start school, you can ask staff for regular progress updates to make sure your child is keeping up with their hearing peers. For example, you could ask for updates on:

  • your child’s progress and planned learning outcomes
  • development of social skills and friendships
  • how your child uses their hearing technology during the day and any issues
  • topics your child will be learning and how you can support their learning at home.

Tanya is mum to Honor (7) who has mild hearing loss.

“The school is very receptive, I have sometimes emailed them information from the National Deaf Children’s Society Helpline, such as tips on acoustics, and her teachers do deaf awareness training.”

Getting support 

Schools can be noisy, busy places which can make it harder for your deaf child to access learning. But each deaf child and young person is different, meaning the challenges they face will vary. It’s important for staff not to make assumptions and to consider each child individually and work out what assistance and support they may need.

You may need to remind them of this and speak out on your child’s behalf to get them additional support. We know that this can be difficult, but the professionals who work with your child may be able to provide support to help you advocate for your child in school.

Tabassum says,

“His teachers don’t realise how important the radio aid is. I asked our ToD for a one-page summary about deafness to share. Moji’s a bright kid and he’s pretty self-sufficient. He gets on with things, sits at the front of the class and does his work, so his teachers might not notice his deafness."

Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) 

Feeling supported as your child grows is important. The main support you and your child may get is a Teacher of the Deaf (ToD). If your child has a ToD, they will partner with your child’s school, the local authority and any health professionals supporting your child.

They will support with things such as adapting the environment and curriculum to meet your child’s specific needs. It’s important that you work together with your child’s ToD and school to make sure your child is getting the support they need. This may involve your child’s ToD:

  • helping you advocate for your child
  • doing deaf awareness training with staff
  • having conversations with teachers about the importance of working with your ToD.

If you don’t have a ToD or haven’t been told about asking for a referral, speak to one of the professionals who work with your child to start the process.

Professional responsible for additional support needs (ASN)

Every school should have arrangements in place to support children with additional support needs (ASN). This should be done by a professional working in your child’s school who has agreed to coordinate support for children with ASN.

They will make sure staff training is up to date and can coordinate meetings with other professionals, like your ToD. They may also be able to help you advocate for your child with teachers and other professionals working with them.

Ask to be put in contact with this person at your child’s school if your child:

  • has been identified as having ASN and needing additional support
  • already has a GIRFEC Child’s Plan or an education plan in place, such as an Individualised Educational Programme (IEP) or Coordinated Support Plan (CSP)
  • has been referred for an ASN assessment or you want to request a psychological, medical or educational assessment if you believe your child may have ASN.

Advice and support services

Here are some advice and support services you can access for information and advice about your child’s rights in school, ASN and how to advocate for your child.

Children and young people 

Parents and carers