Meeting tips 3: Agreements and follow up

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Good discussion of your concerns in a meeting is important – but what really matters are the changes that come out of that discussion. Clear agreement and follow up are crucial.

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Go over agreements and actions

At the end of your discussion on a particular issue, make sure that everyone agrees on what actions will take place to resolve it. Sometimes it can be such a relief to have raised an issue and had a discussion, that people in the meeting forget to clarify exactly what was agreed, and who will be responsible for making it happened. Especially with complex issues, people can sometimes get different impressions of exactly what was discussed and agreed on.

At the end of your discussions on an issue, check that you all agree on:

  • What was decided
  • What actions will be taken
  • Who will take those actions
  • When they will take action by
  • When you will come together again, to review how the changes are working.

These details should all be written down in the minutes. It might even be worth summarising the agreed actions again, at the very end of the meeting, to make sure everyone is clear and still in agreement. If you forget to check something or to make an important point in the meeting, you can follow up with a phone call, email or letter to the school.


Minutes and other documentation

Schools are responsible for taking official minutes of SSG meetings (or their equivalent in Catholic or independent schools) and for sending them out after the meeting. It’s also a good idea to keep your own notes in meetings, especially of decisions and agreed actions. This will help, if you think the school’s minutes are inaccurate.

People have different approaches to taking minutes – some take detailed notes of discussions, while others focus mostly on who was there, the main issues, decisions made and action points. If you would appreciate more detailed minutes, for example of your child’s SSG meetings, you can make a request in the next meeting.

Minutes are important record, but the main tool for documenting your child’s learning and supports is their Individual Learning and Support Plan, and other plans such as those for behaviour support, personal or medical care. These should be dated and reviewed regularly, and amended if your child’s needs or supports change.

SSG meetings are the main forum for discussion of your child’s needs and issues. However, sometimes you might discuss issues elsewhere – at parent-teacher interviews or other meetings with a teacher, the principal or other staff. You can ask the staff member note any actions agreed on and send them to you, as follow up. Or you can send them an email yourself, as a written record, and to check that you have the same understanding of what was said.


Follow-up – putting agreements into action

Many of the actions agreed on in a meeting will be the responsibility of the school staff, or external people like therapists or other specialists. However, some of them will be actions for you to take. Do your best to follow up on them in the timeframe discussed. Sometimes other pressures make it difficult – let the school know if that happens.

Many families experience delays in the time it takes schools to take action, despite everyone’s good intentions in meetings. Different issues take shorter or longer times to resolve. It’s important to understand that. But the same time, part of your role in advocating for your child is often following up with the school, to check on progress.

Good minutes – with clear agreements, actions and timeframes – make this much easier. You can then start the next meeting by reviewing the previous minutes, and checking progress on agreed actions.


Review the changes made, and adjust if needed

There are often a number of ways that a problem can be tackled – for example, through different approaches to teaching or behaviour support, or ways of communicating strategies to all of your child’s teachers in secondary school. When you have discussed an issue and reached agreement on a way forward, it’s often a good idea to also agree on a timeframe to trial the changes.

Often you might agree to try things out for a term, and review them at the next scheduled SSG meeting. However, if the nature of an issue means the timeframe needs to be shorter, make an agreement on what should happen instead, to check in on how things are working – be that an extra SSG meeting, or a meeting with the teacher or principal.