SEND: 4 tips for better relationships with adults

Whether it’s SEND parents or outside agencies, it’s important to create a positive atmosphere, says Ginny Bootman

SEND: How teachers can manage relationships with parents

Relationships are pivotal in the role of Sendco.

Get them right and they will bear great fruits.

 Get them wrong and they can haunt you.


Quick read: The empathy approach: comfort, don't confront

Quick listen: Why attachment-aware teaching matters for every child

Want to know more? SEND: Why your school should sign up to BSL


In my time as Sendco, I have got it wrong, got it right and just about scraped through.

The three biggest lessons I have learned are to be honest, be honest and be honest. 

Things happen, everyone makes mistakes or doesn’t have the answers, but honesty goes a long way in dealing with issues, whatever they may be.

SEND: Relationships with parents and carers

Parents and carers know the children better than anyone else. They are protective, demanding and want the best for the children in their care. Listen to them (really listen to them, rather than just appearing to). 

Encourage parents to speak first

When parents are encouraged to speak first during initial meetings, they are able to articulate their fears and worries.

I sometimes liken it to a balloon that has been inflated and is then let go. From this, we can start to look at what we can do to help.

Start with the positives

A top tip I got from a wonderful educational psychologist I worked with involved asking carers about their children in two parts, starting with the positives.

These often become a wonderful celebration of everything their child has achieved, however great or small.

Interestingly, these discussions can fall into two camps, either gushing about how wonderful their child is or jumping straight into concerns.

If the latter occurs, I sway them back to the positives and then we move on to the areas they are concerned about.

Offer options

It’s important to give parents options. When considering involving any outside agency, it is vital that carers feel fully involved in the process.

I have, on occasion, had carers question the involvement of an outside agent. I talk it through with them and offer my opinion as to how a certain individual’s guidance will help their child and us as a school give the support required. Nine times out of 10 we agree that the outside agent will benefit us all.

Relationships with outside agents

Put the kettle on

My top tip for involving any outside agents is to offer them a cuppa as soon as they come through the door. The number of times people are shocked by the offer is astounding. Kindness breeds kindness.

When I know someone is coming in, I allocate a room for them and email to confirm the date and the time. 

I am amazed by their stories about how different schools receive them. I have heard tales of people being welcomed with a grunt by the person who opens the door; hearing “Ugh, we didn’t know you were coming”; and literally being asked to work in a cupboard “out of the way”. 

We need to embrace the expertise they bring and badger them for guidance, which we can replicate and use in our classrooms to help the children in our care.

These people are often travelling a long way to visit us. The least we can do is value them.

So let’s be as one and do the best for the children in our care.

Ginny Bootman is Sendco at Evolve Primary Church Academy in Northamptonshire. She tweets @sencogirl

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