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Advocating for your child at school

Starting school or moving to a new school can be a big change for both you and your child. There may be times when you need to advocate for your child so their school knows how to support and include them in their education.

Knowing your legal rights can help. Sometimes, just showing that you’re aware of your rights can make advocating for your child easier and help solve problems.

Find out more about additional learning needs (ALN) in Wales and how additional learning provision (ALP) (support) is provided.

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 teachers and classroom assistants 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. 

Think about discussing with your child what information will be shared with their teacher. They may not want to be singled out, or they may prefer to do this themselves. Ask your child how they’d like to raise deaf awareness in their school and if they want help from you or a teacher.   

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 for adults about communicating with deaf children. 

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, Teachers of the Deaf (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 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.

Building relationships with these professionals helps keep a line of communication open so you can see what your child is learning at school and address any concerns.

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.

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 the 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 a 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. It’s important for staff not to make assumptions and to consider each child individually. 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 there is support available to help you advocate for your child in school.

Teacher of the Deaf (ToD)

If your child has a ToD, their ToD will partner with your child’s school to 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 ToD and your child’s school to make sure your child is getting the support they need. This may involve:

  • asking your ToD to support you when advocating for your child
  • asking your ToD to do some deaf awareness training with staff
  • having conversations with teachers about the importance of working with your ToD.

Additional learning needs coordinator (ALNCo)

An ALNCo is a qualified teacher who coordinates provision for and works with pupils with additional learning needs (ALN). They should make sure staff training is up to date and help you advocate for your child with teachers and other professionals working with your child.

NDCS Helpline

Contact our Helpline if you are concerned about your child’s education or want advice about advocating for your child.

Esther is mum to Brocha (6) who is moderately deaf. Esther had to repeatedly ask for a radio aid system for her daughter.

“It was worth the battle. She’s a different girl, never tired or cranky. She goes to after-school clubs, is happier and has made friends. It’s hard to be assertive if you’re not sure what you’re asking for is right. The National Deaf Children’s Society empowered me.”