Ask a teacher

24th November 2006 at 00:00
Should I give a disproportionate amount of time to one child in my Year 1 class? He is in the process of being statemented. His father is unhappy that I can't give him all the time he needs, but that would be to the detriment of the other 29 children. The top groups aren't being stretched because I rarely get to work with them. What should I do?

Sally, Birmingham

A Tell the father that you have an obligation to cater for the needs of every child. You are not the "child's teacher", you are the child's "class teacher". Until his statement is provided, you will be giving him as much support as possible but there will inevitably be times when he will be unsupported. The way to manage this is to give the child familiar work that he already can do, however simple, when he is working independently. Only move on to new work when he is working with support.

Susan, London

A We have a responsibility to teach children to become independent and to work independently. Ask the father what the child does independently outside school - you could suggest activities that can be done at home. Too many children today, with special needs or not, only function if the spoon is held close to the mouth.

Jeff, Lincoln

A It sounds to me that you have explained at length how you are attempting to meet this child's special needs. I think that you should avoid further circular discussions, in the nicest possible way of course, as parents like this are not going to be satisfied until their child has full-time support.

You must refer them to the special needs co-ordinator, or to senior management - that's what they are paid extra for.

Fiona, Manchester

A As a mother of a statemented child, I realise that parents often don't know what "normal" attainment is. It is likely to be the school that gives them the first indication that all is not well. Parents can be sad, angry, in denial, and grieving for the child they thought they had, and can be most unstable while the child is going through the statementing process.

Your special needs co-ordinator should be offering support to this father, putting him in touch with organisations which can help, but also giving him a realistic view of what schools can offer until the statement comes through.

David, Biggleswade

Next week's question

What new strategies can I use for a Year 4 child who gets angry and makes a big commotion when she does not get her way?One-to-one time, mood cards and a journal for her feelings have not helped. Any ideas on what I can do?

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