Top 5 considerations for discussions with parents

Here's a few things to consider when having a conversation with a parent or carer about their child potentially requiring a residential provision to support their speaking and understanding language needs.

By Jenny McConnell, Principal of I CAN’s Dawn House School

1. Can the child’s needs be met in the mainstream/current setting?  

Taking a child out of mainstream education is a big decision, so it’s important to consider this carefully. It’s vital to be realistic about what your setting can offer and whether or not this will be sufficient for the child in question, or if weekly boarding in a residential provision that is an extension of their school is what’s needed to enable them to fulfil their potential. 

2. What therapy does the child need and is that available in the current setting?  

Having regular access to speech and language therapists and specialist occupational therapy can be essential for some children. Specialist schools such as I CAN’s Dawn House School are able to ensure that this consistent support from therapists is available for all their students. 

3. What is the primary need of the child and is that need being addressed? 

Every child is unique. Does your school have the resource and expertise in-house to support this particular child’s needs? Schools that specialise in working with children who face complex or severe speaking and understanding language needs are well-equipped to handle a range of different challenges. 

 4. What support does the parent need to enable them to navigate and achieve an alternative provision (have they got support from IPSEA/family/social media parent forums)?  

If you believe the child may benefit from being referred to a specialist school with a residential provision, it is important to ensure the parent or carer has the support they need to navigate this process. As well as the above, you could also point them in the direction of this recording of I CAN’s webinar on “Choosing the right school for a child with complex and/or severe speaking and understanding needs”. 

 5. Are all professionals in agreement and has this been logged in meetings and communicated with the local authorities?

The process of referring a child to a specialist school may require a lot of supporting evidence, so it’s vital to ensure from the offset that all the relevant professionals involved are in agreement and that this has been documented. 


Jenny is the Principal of Dawn House School, a day and residential non-maintained school that welcomes pupils for boarding from Monday to Friday during term time. Click here to find out more about the school.


Enhance your knowledge with FREE training

Dawn House School (part of I CAN, the children’s communication charity), will soon be offering a range of free training sessions on supporting speaking and understanding language needs.

This will include a session to help SENCOs further their knowledge about what a residential provision can offer and how to guide parents and children through this process.

Sign up today to be the first to hear once booking opens!


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