27 August 2015
Back to School: Let’s Not Forget Children with Special Educational Needs
The summer holidays in England and Wales are nearing an end and it’s back to school time, with an understandably mixed reaction amongst school children.
Some will relish their first day back – a chance to swap holiday stories with their classmates before knuckling down to hard work and making steps towards achieving their educational goals.
For other children, returning to school won’t be as happy an occasion because they learn differently to their peers and, despite wanting to achieve so much, may end up struggling during the forthcoming school year because they can’t get the support in school that they need.
Special Educational Needs
The latest UK government research says that 15.4% of pupils in English schools have identified special educational needs.
Although this figure has steadily declined since 2010 (21.1%), this still means that more than one child in every seven is in need of extra learning support.
Many children who have additional learning needs have access to the support they need at school, but there are many who do not. Sadly, children who don’t get the support they need in the classroom, somewhat understandably can become frustrated and this frustration often leads to disruption in class and, sometimes, more seriously, exclusion.
Given that children with special educational needs are more likely to be excluded than other pupils, surely identifying their learning needs early on in their school life is crucial in helping them achieve their potential?
Early Identification is Key
The sooner any additional learning needs are identified, the sooner a proper assessment can be carried out and the sooner support can become available.
Early identification is vital.
A recent Guardian article discussed GCSE results day and how, on this day each year, the media always shows us scenes of joy and despair amongst school children – those who have either passed or failed their GCSEs. The article quite rightly points out that we never hear about those children who never even got the chance to sit their GCSEs in the first place because they were excluded from school.
When you consider that fact that 70% of excluded pupils have special educational needs, it would be fair to question whether, if such needs had been appropriately identified and the necessary provision put in place in the first instance, whether this figure may dramatically reduce.
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