It came to my attention this week that although children with special needs are encouraged to attend main stream schools, which is not a bad thing, the teaching staff have very little special needs training during their time in university and even less once they are employed.
I know that for most teachers the ‘teacher training days’ at the beginning of terms are usually spent discussing the planning for the following term, and that most of their additional training is carried out either at weekends or more usually after work for a few hours. Occasionally some schools will send the head of a department or year group to a conference, with the expectation that they will then disseminate the information to the rest of the team, but this rarely happens due to high work loads and other commitments.
This lack of training combined with larger numbers of children with additional needs in the schools means that more children are falling behind or falling through the cracks because the system is failing them. I have seen this in primary schools and secondary schools. Add onto this lack of training the lack of funding due to local and central Government cuts more children will be labelled as trouble makers or disruptive leading to exclusions and underachieving.
I have no simple solution to this problem, as I said I do believe that inclusive education is important and that all children can learn valuable life skills from the practice, but there needs to be more flexibility in the curriculum, the attitudes of teachers, the availability of qualified TAs and better training in the needs of children who display challenging behaviour due to what ever circumstances they live with. The training should not stop at the end of university, but be compulsory for all teaching staff to continually train in behaviour strategies based on their classroom and the children they teach.
As part of Every Child Matters schools have a duty to ensure that children stay safe, enjoy and achieve, stay healthy, achieve economic wellbeing and make a positive contribution. They cannot do this without understanding the needs of the children and have the correct training to help the children meet these outcomes.
Currently I am working with so many of these children who have fallen through the cracks, they have low self esteem, they are under achieving, have no real prospects of finding employment or even gaining qualifications to allow them to move on to further education, they are being failed by society to stay healthy and safe as teenage pregnancy and smoking drugs are a way of life.
The staff team I work with are dedicated to improving the life chances for these children, but it has taken the system 10 years of the child’s life to find them a suitable place to learn in a setting dedicated to achieving goals and preventing another failure. There needs to be more done in the mainstream school system to prevent these children falling and failing.