Having a meeting regarding the provision of additional resource hours for your child can often bring mixed emotions amongst parents. For some, there is relief that help is a hand, for others it can be a complete shock that their child needs help.
The need for additional help is usually instigated by the class teacher, but sometimes parents must fight for the extra resource hours that their child needs.
As per the department publication Looking at our Schools 2016, the class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress & care of all pupils in the classroom, including pupils with special educational needs. Therefore, the class teacher is always your first port of call and there should be ongoing, meaningful, two-way dialog throughout the year.
Parents need to understand that pupils with the greatest levels of need should have access to the greatest levels of support. Different children in the same school will have levels of support. Everyone learns at different rates and so at times even bright children may need a helping hand to get them up to speed.
The decision to avail of extra resource hours is entirely up to the parent. There is no legal requirement to take them and it is also the parent’s decision to discontinue them if they wish. Therefore, it is vital to consider all options carefully. By this, I mean having a proper meeting with the class teacher. A quick chat at the school gate or a note home is not enough.
I recommend that you talk to your child about what they want prior to the meeting. For children from first class onwards, I feel that they should be included in the meeting and their opinions taken seriously. Some children do not want to leave the classroom and go to the resource room. Others may not be happy in group sessions. Others may feel that they are missing out on fun stuff while they are out of the classroom. One complaint that I often hear is that the child feels that they no longer need the help but still must go out.
My recommendation to parents is to start with the ending in mind. Establish what the desired outcome is to be and frame that in positive language. Then work back to establish a timeline, milestones and programme. For most pupils, extra resource hours should be a temporary intervention. A problem is identified, and a plan of action is agreed upon and implemented. Ultimately the pupil exits the intervention.
The revised allocation model for special education teaching resources gives schools greater autonomy and flexibility in how they allocate those resources. For example, now rather than the child leave, the resource teacher can come into the classroom. So, if extra resources were needed in maths, then the resource teacher could come in during maths class to help the child. Of course, this may require some timetable co-ordination between teachers. However, it is an alternative for the child who is stressed out by having to leave the classroom.
Two of the principles at the core of Looking at our Schools 2016 are having a holistic view of learning and the learner and that well-being is intrinsic to learning. When a child is struggling at school, the provision of extra resources is to help the child overcome that struggle both academically and emotionally. If your child needs additional resource hours, having a meaningful meeting with the class teacher is your first step.