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Education: The Great Equaliser!

Hello and welcome,
The following points have been expanded in the books available via my web site. They contain much more about accessing learning and the development of valuable skills.

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If You Don’t Do It Who Will?


Parent groups


Parent groups can be empowering and families often feel that meeting others in a similar situation helps. For the first time, a family may feel less isolated through meeting others going through the same experiences.

Setting Up

Parent groups are good for helping to address isolation and bewilderment which often arrives with having a disabled child. Not knowing where to turn for advice is a major issue ...


Setting up and keeping a group going is hard ...

Aims and Objectives

Aims and objectives can be different too. Not all groups want to take on an adversarial role ...

They can be about circulating information covering:

  • Local or national services


As a pressure group, where one voice is ignored a group is much harder to brush off.

Building a Membership

Building a membership is not easy ...

Ways of drumming up support,

  • Contact specialist teachers and ask them to pass on your group’s details



Early on, meetings can take place at home but as the group grows a bigger venue will be needed. For example, a church hall, community, health or day centre but do keep in mind some members might find certain settings (health or education) off-putting.

In the beginning, the cost of hiring a venue might be an issue.

Choose a venue near public transport and with,

  • Parking


Arrange meetings to take place on a regular basis ...

A meeting designed for parents can represent an opportunity for children with a disability to meet too …


Choosing a Chairperson will be one of your first jobs. Importantly, control should always remain in the hands of parents.


Avoid your local authority becoming too influential ...

A Programme and Communication

Plan a programme carefully and start with a ‘Getting to Know You’ session ...

Give notice about what you plan covering during a meeting and circulate an agenda ...

Guest speakers from education, health or social services are often popular ...

Later, you may also have more stories of interest for your local media and this will help spread the word.


Ask for a small membership fee as this will also help with developing a sense of commitment.

Engage with local businesses, particularly if they are major employers, because they may become financial backers.

Tell, for example, your local Women’s Institute and Round Table that you are running when established. These may prove useful funding streams.

Maintaining Momentum

To avoid becoming down hearted, especially when setting up, put in place as soon as possible a calendar of events. Arrange for example:

  • Barbecues


Start a magazine, book and toy library ...

The Next Step

Having established:

  • Who you are


Where you meet

You are now ready to share personal knowledge about your children’s needs and your own needs in relation to managing the situation.


  • Parental insight is vital and can often best emerge in a relaxed atmosphere

  • Discuss the specialist provision available in your area and how this compares with provision elsewhere



Campaigning can be useful; for example, you may have become concerned about the level of provision available for your children ...

Take advice about the best way forward. Contacting your MP, local paper or councilor about shortcomings in provision may not be the best and most productive way forward. Doing so might ‘raise the temperature’ and create ill feeling

Falling Attendance

If attendance is falling consider the following:

  • Are you holding meetings at unsuitable times? You should avoid school holidays, bank holiday weekends and religious holidays



A number of groups have set up a telephone help line in an effort to meet the growing needs of parents. Although this may be occurring for pragmatic reasons caution is needed for a variety of reasons. These might include:

  • Staffing a help line, to be available when needed by parents, is a big commitment

  • A help line unanswered or unable to address issues raised will undermine the group’s credibility

  • Information given this way may be too complicated for many parents

  • Some parents are unable to move things forward if not supported face to face

  • A phone line needs to be constantly staffed by experienced and knowledgeable people

  • The person answering the phone needs a firm grasp of for example a child’s requirements, the support needed and how to obtain it, in order to adequately support the child and family

  • The person answering the phone must be able to manage what can often be an emotional situation

  • Trust is hard, if not impossible to develop over the phone


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