It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of a good education; however, a child’s learning begins long before they go to school and continues after their compulsory education ends.
The early years (0-5) are particularly important for a child’s development as they begin to discover the world around them. Playing with your child encourages their gradual understanding of all kinds of things and will help them learn to talk.
From the day you make an application for a nursery place for your three-year-old to the moment your teenage son or daughter gets their examination results, you will be in constant communication with head teachers, teaching staff and the other individuals who are involved in your child’s education.
In Wales, education – at school or at home – is compulsory from the term following your child’s fifth birthday until the last Friday in June for a sixteen-year-old (provided the young person will be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays).
Schools in Wales are Welsh-medium (where children are taught entirely or mostly in Welsh), English-medium (where Welsh is taught as a second language) and dual-medium schools (where lessons are in both languages).
Parents have a legal duty to make sure their child receives a suitable full-time education. There is a strong link between a child’s educational achievement and regular school attendance and schools are required to take an attendance register twice a day.
Schools take communication with parents seriously and, as well as sending letters home with pupils, most have their own websites and will contact parents via emails and text messages. Some have school councils where class representatives are encouraged to share pupils’ opinions with teachers and governors, and most have active parent-teacher associations.
Bullying is treated seriously and every school will have its own anti-bullying policy (you can usually find this on the school website). If you are worried your child might be being bullied at school or on the way to or from school, raise your concerns with the head teacher.
Sometimes, it can become necessary or preferable for a child to move to a different school. This might be because the family is moving to a new area or because the child is unhappy at the present school. Talk to both the old and new schools before making a final decision. Remember, school transport is not automatically provided to children who move to a school outside their catchment area.
Occasionally, a child will be changing schools because they have been assessed as having Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and the new educational setting is better-placed to meet their needs.
Some children who exhibit challenging behaviour – perhaps because they have a severe learning disability – may need to be educated outside mainstream school too.
Schools do not take the exclusion of pupils lightly; however, there are occasionally instances when a young person’s behaviour falls so far below the behaviour expected by pupils that the only action is to exclude them, either temporarily or permanently.
Councils have a legal duty to support teenage parents to remain in education. There is also additional help for young parents who wish to pursue further and higher education.