“I’m sorry I forgot,” one of those expressions that we hear regularly and may even have uttered ourselves. Sometimes it doesn’t matter too much – I forgot to buy a spare bottle of tomato sauce. Sometimes it is more annoying – “Miss I forgot to bring my homework in.” Sometimes it can be dangerous – I forgot to stop at the traffic lights. Some of these are genuine “I forgot” incidences, some may be deliberate untruths in the hope that we will believe.
Since becoming a SENCo I have referred lots of children to various outside agencies. Most of the education type people come to school to see the children but anything to do with health, understandably, don’t. This often causes us a problem. I talk with staff and parents and agree a referral is needed, I write the letter, I get it sent off. I then get on with 101 other jobs and I don’t hear anything for ages.
I hope that the next I hear is a report from the relevant professional saying that they have seen the child and this is what they recommend or what will happen next. Too frequently what I get is a “the child you referred to our busy service did not attend and if we don’t hear from the parents by (insert date) we will presume that they no longer want to see us” letter. Unfortunately allowing for post and the inevitable half term/ end of term holiday, the date is just about passed. I phone the parents and mention in a friendly manner that they missed the long awaited appointment – “Oh yes, I forgot,” is the most common response. I ask them to phone before the deadline and rearrange it – they almost always apologise and agree to phone and…. guess what…. yes, that too slips their memory!
I quite sympathise with the health professionals for their attitude and with waiting lists being what they are they do not need people forgetting to turn up and then not rearranging appointments. It is just rather irritating that having referred the child to something that we feel they need that they then don’t go. The local Speech and Language department are great – they let us know when the appointments are so that we can remind the parents, they have even arranged to come and do one initial assessment in school for a child who has had difficulty getting to the clinic.
It is good if having referred a child we could be notified that an appointment has been offered or as one department seems to do, write and say that an appointment will not be offered until a current Parenting Course is completed. I appreciate that sending letters costs money but I wonder whether the secretary that types the letter to the parents could email a copy of the letter to the school. It wouldn’t take long, the letter is already on their computer, and it would enable us to help minimise missed appointments and that overworked phrase, “…but I’m sorry I forgot.”