Set Up a Support Group

It can be really useful to have a SEND network of parents and carers with a common concern.

It provides a space where people can share their experiences and get or give advice.

Lots of schools and settings may already have a SEND Parent Network. Some run regular coffee mornings for parents to meet and talk, often facilitated by the SENDCo. Sometimes speakers are invited to these meetings too.

If your school doesn’t have this, you might like to start by setting up a WhatsApp group at your school or setting.

Here is Rani's story of setting up a SEND parent network at Campsbourne Primary School:

Over the years as a parent at Campsbourne school, it became clear that we had many parents/ carers of neurodiverse children who were feeling quite isolated in terms of information and support.

I had been working with Haringey council to review the EHCP and Annual Review guidance for parents and had started to research national and local SEND charities and attend their free training. I approached the SENDCo with the idea of setting up a network for parents to share information and create a supportive community at Campsbourne.

Initially I set up a group on Classlist, the parent communication platform. I let people know they could join by putting a section in the weekly school newsletter and sending out a whole school message on Classlist.

It was an open group so parents could add themselves and in order to make it inclusive, their child did not need a diagnosis to join. We quickly grew in number and I would regularly post information about events, groups and free Markfield training. It was also a space for parents to ask each other questions, for example about their EHCP experience or recommendations for specialist help. 

We eventually moved the group to WhatsApp so that we could communicate more easily. At that time, I asked class representatives to advertise the group to their classes with a WhatsApp link to join and we gained many more members.

As well as WhatsApp chat, we have regular coffee mornings hosted by the SENDCo at school, where we have had speakers or time to talk in more detail. I also organise meet ups for the group at a local venue so we can share our experiences and sometimes have a good moan!

The group has helped to create a SEND parent community at the school so people feel informed, connected and less alone. Some parents are reluctant to discuss their child but as more parents share their stories, it has helped others to open up. We also identify common themes, which are able to discuss with the SENDCo in a collaborative way.

Parents really value the group and knowing they have others in the school community to talk to.

SEND Power in Haringey is hosted by The Bridge Renewal Trust, a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales under number 06949568 and registered as a Charity number 1131941. Registered office Laurels Healthy Living Centre, 256 St Ann's Road, London N15 5AZ