There are few things as a teacher that I find more upsetting than hearing from a distressed parent whose child is being let down by the system because it cannot meet their special educational needs (SEN). And then to hear the system let her down too, for the same reason, well that’s a double horror.
If we are going to do inclusion (and I absolutely think we must) then it has to be done properly, with support and training and understanding and compassion. And there must be room for teachers to adapt to the child’s needs and not push them in ways that are not developmentally appropriate.
Having a system where children are deemed naughty far too often simply because the system expects them to fit in no matter what, when in fact we should be adapting to the needs of the child – well that is madness.
A system that prioritises benchmarks over individual growth? Madness.
Having a system where there are very few teacher aides and even fewer *trained* teacher aides is abysmal. And we lose good TAs every year due to the terrible way they are employed, due to appalling funding systems. This is also madness.
A system where teachers are crying out for training and support with Special Educational Needs but little to none is given and where professional development has been prioritised as STEM (science, tech, engineering and maths) for the coming few years by government, meaning we are bang out of luck for SEN PD…? Totally bloody madness.
How many of our underachieving students have special educational needs that are not met?
How many of our SEN students end up home schooled because the system is causing them more harm than good?
How many teachers leave the job because they cannot cope with SEN students without support and there is none?
How many distressed people does it take before real, huge, positive changes are made?
The select committee looking at improving SEN provision have an unenviable task on their hands. The job is huge. Massive shifts are needed, both in the system and political ideology, to get this even vaguely moving in the right direction. It will need bold action. Let’s hope the kids are put first in their considerations and that bold action is indeed taken.
Dire SEN provision is one huge mistake we really must learn from.