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Questions from a total novice

(5 Posts)
LadyClariceCannockMonty Wed 12-Oct-11 15:36:14

Disclaimer: I know zero about SEN; I don't have any children, SEN or otherwise. If any of what I'm saying comes across as ill-informed/inaccurate/etc, I'm truly sorry but I do not mean or wish to offend; I am just completely ignorant of this area.

(also, quite long: apologies).

My DP is an artist and is about to start working on an in-school creative project with a small class of pupils with SEN (early secondary-school age; he thinks the class is mixed-age but that they're between 11-13 or thereabouts). He spent a day with the class yesterday to meet the pupils and teacher/teaching assistants, get an idea of what they do and how their days go etc. He came home quite dispirited and said that it just seemed like somewhere that people leave their kids while they go and do something else (this is NOT a criticism of the parents, by the way, but a description of how he thought the set-up felt!); that the teacher seemed to have very low expectations of the pupils' abilities and no interest in stretching them at all. His example was that their English class consisted of them watching an animation on YouTube of a children's book and then having stories read to them. He said the pupils appeared bored by this, as they did by pretty much the whole of the day. There was apparently a lot of them watching things on YouTube and other screen-based activities.

I can't stop thinking about these pupils. I feel unutterably sad at the idea that they might be bored and understimulated and have potential that is not being reached, or even searched for. DP found it upsetting too. He does know that it was only one day and that he is not a teacher and doesn't really have any idea of what sort of level these pupils and their teachers should be working at, but he has in his capacity as an artist worked with children and young people quite a lot and is fantastic with them, and his gut feeling was that they were bored and could have been stretched and challenged more.

I'm not even sure what my questions are. I suppose I would just like some reactions to this from people who know more about SEN than I do (not difficult!).

Thanks very much if you've read this far!

KATTT Wed 12-Oct-11 20:15:26

Try reposting this over at Special needs - lots more traffic.

tmls77 Wed 12-Oct-11 20:29:43

Hi, I've worked in SEN for 12 yrs (still do). It all depends on the level of understanding of children, also....some kids esp on autistic spectrum find that too much stimulation is difficult to deal with. I've worked places where kids couldn't cope with a picture on the wall.

However, lessons must be fun and engaging and meet the needs of pupils....whilst having realistic expectations of achievment.

In addition, behaviour strategies come into play and if perhaps....staff were absent from the classroom dealing with an incident or there was a previous incident...then maybe this day a calming activity was needed.

The best thing to do is speak to the head and if still not satisfied then governers/local authority.

It's ate, I'm exhausted but hope this helps/makes sense?

tmls77 Wed 12-Oct-11 20:30:17

Ooops...late not ate, lol

LadyClariceCannockMonty Thu 13-Oct-11 13:46:53

Thanks KATTT, I will.

Thank you tmls77. My DP said the pupils became animated and cheerful and more communicative when they looked at photos from an out-of-school trip they'd been on recently; were happy to point to themselves and things in the pictures and talk about the things they'd seen and done. Apparently there are 6 in the class, a teacher and two teaching assistants, so lots of support, but he didn't feel that the pupils were getting much in the way of a meaningful individual learning experience.

I absolutely agree though, and so would DP, that it was one day, so he might have seen an exceptional rather than a typical day, and that neither of us has any SEN experience.

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