Coping! At what cost to our children?

Coping! At what cost to our children?

15 December 2018

Teachers have always coped with shifts and changes in educational policy. As the GPs of the education system Primary Teachers are fantastic at providing care and education for all children. However, just as a GP in our health service would not be expected to operate on a broken leg or perform complex surgery, teachers cannot be expected to effectively provide for complex special educational needs without support from specialists. Inclusion is wonderful and essential when properly supported by specialists to meet the needs of our vulnerable children and children with complex SEND. The system is failing and as a result teachers and schools are failing our young people. Teachers have got used to the fact that there is little or no support available for a variety of reasons. It is nolonger a system driven by the needs of the child. This is a crisis and it is wrong!

Teachers should be able to refer children and parents to the specialist support that will allow them to thrive within our education system. During my 21 year teaching career I have had the pleasure of working with some wonderful educational psychologists, physiotherapist and speech and language therapists who have the expertise to assess and support children in schools and in their homes. Sadly this support has become increasingly hard or impossible to access for children in our current system. Teachers are copers and will work with the resources they have available but at what cost to our children?

Parents and teachers are increasingly distressed at the difficulties they face when trying to get appropriate support for their children. Many parents resort to funding specialist therapy themselves when possible, other children simply go without. The consequences of little or no early intervention are enormous as they progress through the education system.

A symptom of a system in crisis is that children with obvious speech delays and disorders are regularly signed off when they clearly require continued support. The system does not have capacity to help them. Equally children requiring intensive therapy are seen perhaps twice a year and then it is up to schools to provide the therapy.

I recently heard a teacher sum it up beautifully as she said ” oh yes, they must be using the assess the need and do nothing model”. We joke as a means of coping in a woefully inadequate situation. We need to say enough is enough. Early intervention and specialist support for our children is essential and should be a non negotiable!

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