Secret teacher yesterday on SEN

(107 Posts)
TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 24-May-15 11:28:24

www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/may/23/secret-teacher-support-inclusion-but-not-at-any-cost?CMP=fb_gu

I have to say that I agree with almost every word. We don't have inclusion IMO- we've got moneysaving and leaders who seem to think that the act of putting a child's name on the register means that their job is done.

tomatodizzymum Sun 24-May-15 12:04:34

I too agree. I think we need to do away with special needs schools and start implementing on-site special needs classrooms. A child that only needed small intervention could spend most of their hours in a mainstream classroom, the children that could not spend any time in a mainstream classroom could be educated in the on-site special needs classroom(s) by trained special needs teachers. Those teachers would be on-site and have the experience to offer advice to the mainstream teachers. It would be the job of special needs teachers to ensure that IEP's were drawn up FOR ALL SEN children and followed. Children with SEN could also go to the on-site classroom(s) when they needed to. It is this in-school trained support that is majorly lacking in the UK and is available in many other countries. Many teachers in the UK will contact the Ed-Psychs or parents and ask for advice, advice will be given, it may not work or only work for a short time (in fact this is generally the case anyway with SEN), or may not work in the school setting but the teacher will stop there, they have 29 other children to think about and a lot on their plates, 6 months down the road major problems might have escalated. Advice given from a far or given by a person that might have met the child a handful of times is often not all that useful. They should IMO be weekly or at least monthly updates and meetings to meet the needs of a SEN child. Especially if that child is spending all day with a teacher that has minimal or no training. What some children really need is not to struggle in a mainstream classroom. In the USA I witnessed teachers devoting entire lessons to how to use a washing machine and cooker. These are life skills that sometimes are all we can provide for a child. But the child remained in the mainstream school and interacted at break and lunchtime and could be part of school sports. Inclusion in the UK I have experienced often came from the needs and wants of the parents and not in the best needs of the children involved (theirs and others). Teachers have a lot to deal with, far too many hoops to jump through and not enough training to cope with SEN's inclusion. I'm sure I'll get flamed but hey-ho.

Panzee Sun 24-May-15 12:07:37

tomatodizzymum I wish you were president.

CamelHump Sun 24-May-15 15:04:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 24-May-15 15:20:26

I'd vote for tomato too.

I just have too many needs in my class.

Greenandcabbagelooking Sun 24-May-15 15:27:57

I agree. I'm that TA, with no TA related qualifications (although I do have postgrad degree) trying to differentiate on the spot for children who just can't cope in our mainstream secondary

HagOtheNorth Sun 24-May-15 15:32:28

Does it also mention having to field the flack from parents of children without additional needs, complaining about the disruption and time and resources spent on 'That Child'? In primary, that's a regular event when a child's needs are not being met for whatever reason.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 24-May-15 15:37:05

TBH, some of those parents have a point Hag. I have to ignore so much to get things done.

StupidBloodyKindle Sun 24-May-15 15:39:07

That's pretty much what the article opens with.

HagOtheNorth Sun 24-May-15 15:41:49

It would be much easier if they didn't have a point, but if your child is hating school because of a child whose needs are being mismanaged, if their learning is disrupted on a regular basis, then they do have a point.
I just wish that they'd bring the pressure to bear in the right place.

KittiesInsane Sun 24-May-15 15:45:22

I think we need to do away with special needs schools and start implementing on-site special needs classrooms. A child that only needed small intervention could spend most of their hours in a mainstream classroom, the children that could not spend any time in a mainstream classroom could be educated in the on-site special needs classroom(s) by trained special needs teachers.

Yep.

And I'm not a teacher but a parent of a child with SEN, for whom this worked very, very well.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 24-May-15 15:53:15

It's very hard to protest against inclusion and not sound disablist though.

candlesandlight Sun 24-May-15 15:55:05

Brilliant article, and very true. Yes we should include all children where possible but sometimes we just have to admit that we spend too much time / resourcs Inc limited financial resources on Sen without anyone in the class getting the benefit, Inc the Sen child.

HagOtheNorth Sun 24-May-15 15:55:26

I'm all for inclusion done right. That means tailored to the needs of the individual child and with training and funding for the adults involved.
Shoving the child into a classroom and saying 'here, deal with it' is not inclusion.

CamelHump Sun 24-May-15 15:56:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 24-May-15 16:00:05

Shoving the child into a classroom and saying 'here, deal with it' is not inclusion.

Or indeed children. Four of the children in my class really can't cope with mainstream, for a variety of reasons. There's one of me, and I have a TA from 9-1. Then I have the rest of the children, some of whom also have pretty tricky learning and social needs.

One child you can just about deal with- you can change things and have a little den for them to escape to. More than one.... firefighting, not teaching.

Marcipex Sun 24-May-15 16:01:51

Hear hear. And it applies to nursery-age children too. I've seen examples where 'inclusion' means 'other children getting bashed in the face every day'.
It's not good enough.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Sun 24-May-15 16:16:08

I think we need to do away with special needs schools and start implementing on-site special needs classrooms.

No. I do not agree. As someone who has a child at a SN school, I can tell you that having him in a classroom at a MS school would be disastrous. Because he's not always in class - there's lunchtime, playtime, assemblies, activities - and all these things send him right up over the edge. He cannot cope with the numbers of people, he cannot cope with the noise. He's a runner, with lots of sensory problems and no sense of danger, easy to manipulate by other children that might take advantage or encourage him to do something stupid or dangerous.

The moment someone says "All children with SNs should be in THIS environment" they have immediately discounted the idea that actually all children with SNs are not the same, and while some may benefit from an onsite classroom, others will not.

insanityscatching Sun 24-May-15 16:16:20

Interested to read this as a parent of two dc with statements and have experienced the whole gamut of SEN education and support.
My experience has been that some schools are far better than others at both giving support and practising inclusion.
Ds spent his primary years in mainstream with full time 1 to 1 support.We were very fortunate that the two TA's that consecutively covered his primary years were outstanding most likely because his 30hr support contract attracted lots of applicants and school recruited the most qualified and experienced and who were also confident enough to prioritise his needs when a teacher may have wanted them to act as classroom support.
He then spent five years in an ASD unit attached to an outstanding Secondary (I think this is tomato's visualisation) The unit staff were brilliant and ds shared his time between the unit and in the mainstream part of the school with full support from the unit staff.I think though it led to him being isolated and he actually got the worst of both worlds. He wasn't part of his form that he was supposedly a member of but he wasn't getting the specialist support that he would have got and did receive when he moved to independent specialist school.
The independent specialist school gave him world class support,they spent three years giving him the skills he needed to be able to make a life for himself. He'd got 8 GCSE's A to C whilst at the unit and so he did no academic study instead concentrating on applying his academic knowledge to real life situations. So at sixteen he could work out in his head a shop's daily takings,the VAT due,the wage bill and so profits and losses.He couldn't though go in a shop and buy a bar of chocolate.
Now almost a year since leaving the specialist school,he travels independently the thirty miles to a mainstream college where any support is behind the scenes to study A level equivalents and has plans for university.
Dd's needs aren't as obvious as ds's or maybe it's more that she isn't disruptive or challenging when she is struggling and so she has only part time support.
In Primary she attended, not our catchment school, but a school in a highly deprived area that offered outstanding support and real inclusion and dd thrived. She moved, with her friends, to our local secondary and it has, to be frank, been awful.
Learning support seem to have only a stereotypical image of ASD and the support needed and because dd doesn't fit their idea of what support is needed (because she is academically able,has no behaviouaral difficulties and has good and strong friendships and a desire to be a part of everything) she isn't getting support. The TA's seem to think that sitting stooge like at her side is support whereas in fact it's a detriment because it isolates her from her peers and removes her from the support that her teachers can offer (who, without exception are incredibly supportive,inclusive and sensitive to dd's needs.
What frustrates me is that nothing seems to be measured which is bizarre when in education everything is measured these days and so the support doesn't have to show that it's working and frankly it isn't working. Dd is making best progress in the lessons where she is seated away from the TA at my insistence or where there isn't a TA assigned to her because the teachers give her the support when needed. In the lessons where the TA sit at the side of her she is making least progress and these aren't the subjects that she finds difficult and yet no one but myself seems to think this is a problem.The TA's seem to think turning up is fulfilling their role and the SENCo supports that view.

HagOtheNorth Sun 24-May-15 16:25:08

insanity, with respect, I think that you are focusing on a different aspect of inclusion and failure. Your DD doesn't sound as if she's disrupting the education, or endangering the safety of the others in the class, which is the key point of the article:

'If inclusion requires a child to be excluded from the same experiences and boundaries as everyone else just to remain on the premises, then it’s not inclusion. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told to put the child first, but why only the child with SEN? What about the 29 other children whose education is hindered and – in some cases – personal safety jeopardised? I am responsible for those children too.'

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Sun 24-May-15 16:35:22

In the USA I witnessed teachers devoting entire lessons to how to use a washing machine and cooker. These are life skills that sometimes are all we can provide for a child.

Hopefully I have misunderstood this, because it appears that you are saying that this is all some children can aspire to. hmm Are you suggesting that this is acceptable?

HagOtheNorth Sun 24-May-15 16:37:39

No, I don't think that's what was meant, more that the students were being prepared for likfe in the real world and being taught appropriate skills. In addition to his 10 GCSEs, DS also did the ASDAN course, which covered a number of key life skills that many students found challenging.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Sun 24-May-15 16:38:42

Especially if that child is spending all day with a teacher that has minimal or no training.

I suppose they could try something really radical and provide the teachers with more training on SNs. hmm

HagOtheNorth Sun 24-May-15 16:46:06

I had a child with Downs in my Y5 class, non-verbal, EAL and twice my weight, so when he chose not to co-operate, there was nothing I could do other than accept his choice. No TA as this was back in the late 80s.
Learning how to dress himself, manage his own toileting and basic communication through pictures and makaton was about all he learnt in Y5, and that was huge progress on previous years.
His needs weren't being met, he needed specialist provision. He was by no means the only child in the class that needed intensive support, but he dominated the class.

HagOtheNorth Sun 24-May-15 16:47:43

' suppose they could try something really radical and provide the teachers with more training on SNs.'

Yes, but which ones? Along with all the other training that is necessary and the lack of retention of experienced staff. I have a lot of SN experience, but I've had years to acquire it.

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