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How effective is mainstream provision for SEN children

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by Ruthie66, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    I think it masssively depends on the SEN of the child - It is quite right that children should be educated with their peers where this is possible - by physical adaptations to schools, specialist equipment etc. Alos where it might mean some adjustments to the curriculum (everyone not having to do 8 GCSEs whether it meets their needs or not for instance). It also depends on the school - a primary school or small secondary school might meet the needs of a child on the AS where an enormous great warehouse of a secondary wouldn't. Inclusion, properly done with the facilities in mainstream to meet the needs of all children is very expensive and is therefore very rarely (never?) done properly.
    Alice K likes this.
  2. Of course, for some SEN students inclusion works but in my experienced opinion, the vast majority of SEN children are poorly served. As they are unlikely to achieve good exam grades, they are simply aged out of the system as cheaply and quietly as possible.
    I truly believe that most parents of SEN children have absolutely no clue as to what their children are not receiving educationally. The system is totally unaccountable to any objective standard and totally remiss in offering challenged children what they need.

    ClearAutism and Alice K like this.
  3. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    I think kids with SEN being taught by a TA is very common and I've never really understood why children with the most complex learning needs in mainstream are routinely taught by the least qualified members of staff. A good, well supervised well trained TA is invaluable in a busy classroom but I think that unfortunately sometimes they are just used to keep the "difficult" children out of the teacher's hair
    ClearAutism likes this.
  4. ScotSEN

    ScotSEN Senior commenter

    Well said Ruthie66
    In my experience how well inclusion works often depends on the specific teacher so that things can vary greatly from class to class.
    Even when the staff are willing they may not have appropriate training and in an effort to support the pupil can be too helpful and the pupil is unable to develop their full potential. ie helping them dress having other pupils fetch things for them as this is quicker
    It can appear that pupils who have motor difficulties can be better supported that those with other difficulties however when one looks beyond the provision of ramps and wheelchairs it can become clear that this is not so. I know of a P1 pupil with Cerebral palsy who was being toilet trained. This was going well at home however at school the only toilet with disabled access was so far from the p1 class that he frequently had 'accidents' due to the time it took to get a second adult to help the classroom assistant and then get him to the toilet. this is in a new build school by the way
    In another school where a child with ASD was being 'included ' He spend all his time at his own desk with a PSA at his side unless the PSA was on a lunch break. He was not allowed to join his peers in the playground at break times.
  5. I feel so angry that this is the norm. EEEEEEKKKKK !!!!!
  6. Can only echo what the others have said with regards to SEN children in mainstream being 'palmed off' to the LSA. Someone else hit the nail on the head when they said that it doesn't make sense that the children with the most complex needs are taught by the least qualified person.
    Our SEN provision in our primary school is very effective and this is reflected in the outcomes. We managed to close the gap very well for the last two years. This is down to guided group teaching in the school with the teacher and LSA teaching the whole range of abilities and, importantly, all abilities working independently at least twice a week.
    Obviously it does depend on the individual needs of the child but it can be done far more effectively than some schools are currently doing.

  7. I would agree with the others-it depends on the SEN and the level of need as well as how willing the staff are to include the pupil. I have Aspergers and was fully included in mainstream school from 5 to 18. I loved it and coped very well both academically and socially but my secondary school in particular was very well chosen-it was a very small state school (75 students in my year) rather than a big, bustling comprehensive and it had a lovely family atmosphere. I genuinely had the best years of my life there. I now work in a special school and most of the students I work with could never be successfully included in a mainstream classroom even with 1-1 support-their needs are simply too high a level and too complex. I currently work with a 17 year old young lady who has been assessed as functioning across all areas at a pre 12 month level-with the best will in the world, she could not be included in a mainstream classroom. We have a lot of students who went through mainstream primary and then came to us as mainstream secondary school wasn't suitable for them. A family friend who has autism went through mainstream primary school and went on to mainstream secondary school but was financially exploited by the other students (she used to give them £20 a day to try and get them to be friends with her) and bullied awfully-she transferred to a residential special school in Year 8.
    Alice K likes this.
  8. As I understand it, "inclusion" as a term in education was first used to describe children whose behaviour problems resulted in such frequent exclusions/expelling that they were not receiving an education. When it was expanded to refer to pupils with additional support needs being given education in main stream provision, as FollyFairy wrote, it sounded like a wonderful idea. The reality, as many are describing, is very different. I feel sorry for parents who believe that their child with ASN will receive a better education in a mainstream classroom. In my experience, this can lead to misery for pupils and a poorer, not better, standard of education. Pupils are often excluded within the mainstream classes as the level of work means that they are joined "at the hip" to a Teaching Assistant. In other cases, under the guise of inclusion, pupils with addition support needs are educated in discrete classes (containing no mainstream pupils) by a mainstream teacher. Seems pretty pointless to me. I work in the ASN department of a large secondary school and have witnessed this over and over. The truth of the matter is that, even with the best will in the world and excellent communication between AS Department and the mainstream teachers, most (not all) children are better served educationally, emotionally and socially in an AS department (or a special school) with teachers and assistants who are qualified to teach them. I was very sad to see the special needs school where I used to work closed down. Those pupils with complex needs are catered for almost exclusively in the AS department of the secondary and would have been better served staying where they were. They closed the special schools in the US years ago to accommodate all the children in mainstream and ended up reopening them. I hope, for the sake of the children with additional support needs, that this happens here soon too.
  9. legoearth

    legoearth New commenter

    In my 10 years experience I have discovered that SEN in my primary is not well provided for. Apart from the fact that there is only one teacher out of a staff of 20 that has any specialist training and doesn’t even work with the lower set ( 3 form entry). The majority of the TAs have specialist training in SEN but work in classes where the child that is statemented takes up the least of the TAs time! The time is usually taken up on crowd control so that the teacher can teach those that want to learn. As far as socialising AS or Hemiplegic children goes it works fine as they are usually plonked in a group with a TA and the ‘naughty’ kids. Not so good as far as role modelling is concerned, great for independence as the TA has no time for ‘spoon feeding’. Oh well, it’s all sorted for when OFSTED visit, fun lessons are taught so the ‘bad’ kids behave and are engaged. The TA sits diligently by the side of the SEN kid and the tracker is duly adjusted to show good progress. The trouble is if you take away the SEN children you take away the funding for TAs, take away the TAs and who looks after the kid that punches others when nobody is looking or the kid that can’t sit still or stop shouting out, or the one who sits rocking in the corner or the one that has never been read to and can’t sit with a book or the cocky one who ‘don’t need school’ or the one who just arrived in the country with no English and half their family dead ALL IN ONE CLASS.i know these are SEN children but without a label there is no support funding. Several of our classes have three well trained dedicated PROFESSIONAL TA s and barely cope. In MY opinion, in MY school NO it doesn’t work for the benefit of the child because the way we have to teach doesn’t take all the additional factors that should be taken into consideration.

  10. Any child who has little chance of GCSEs gets the very minimum of funding. They are simply kept as quiet as possible and aged out. The SEN system is dishonest, dehumanizing and worthy of investigation. It is 'staffed' by the untrained (cheapest) and supervised by people who have no academic background in SEN issues. It is the abandoned baby of the educational system.
  11. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    Having "a label" does not get you additional funding. Additional funding only comes with a substantial statement. In our mainstream school with have children with"labels" but no additional funding. I agree that teachers in mainstream need additional training or qualifications in SEN but there are also teachers in special who when they start do not have sen qualifications.
  12. Add
    It is the abandoned baby of the dysfunctional 'family' of the educational system
  13. Riv

    Riv New commenter

    The difference being that in a special school there are usually several teachers in the school with training and experience who can and will support the teacher who does not have the SEN qualifications (as well as each other). They will also expect to train the "new to special" teachers once they are in post.
    The classes are smaller (generally a teacher and a support assistant to 10 pupils, sometimes an even lower adult to pupil ratio, subject to the pupils needs of course) and the curriculum is generally adapted to support the pupils learning needs.
  14. Definitely agree with this-in the school where I work, all of the students are on 1:1 support in the classrooms. Our school is very expensive for authorities to fund though.
  15. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    So should we be looking to reduce class sizes in mainstream schools to enable the teachers to meet the needs of children with SEN. Will doing this and training the teachers in SEN make inclusion work?
  16. Riv

    Riv New commenter

    I think the best answer to that was given in an earlier post ....

  17. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    Yes but if mainstream schools had the same level of support, training and class sizes would that enable them to meet the needs of all levels of SEN?
  18. To be honest, I don't think it would, certainly not at all levels of education. The mindset of some mainstream teachers is completely different to people who work in special. I cannot imagine my brother, for example, who works in mainstream secondary, being willing to change a 19 year old's incontinence pad which is something I do every day. He just wouldn't be able or willing to cope with the level of need, even if there was only 5 in a class. It COULD work in primary if the teachers were willing enough but how viable is it to have such small classes in a mainstream setting?
  19. I have been in the business for 12 years on two continents and I have never met a TRAINED and experienced special needs teacher who was in favour of inclusion. The moment you expose people to real research, proven methods and reality based experience they are no longer useful to the budget driven inclusionists.
    By keeping high need children in state schools, they not only rob the SEN children of what they need but also rob the regular education children of time, attention and instruction. Its a lose/lose situation but since none of these children are going to get GCSEs, what does it really matter? (To head teachers it doesnt matter a bit) It hasn't mattered for about 20 years but maybe the Green paper will begin to rectify it.
    Maybe these kids will be swept out from under the rug.
    Alice K likes this.
  20. Well here is one teacher who is trained ( 3 PG qualifications including a Masters in Special Ed.) and experienced (25+ years in mainstream and in specialist provision) who is in favour of Inclusion for many (not all) SEN children. Yes it is a challenge. It needs vision and commitment on the part of senior management, support and CPD for all staff and lots of hard work but when successful the rewards for parents, teachers, children with SEN and their fellow pupils are huge. I count myself fortunate to have been able to be a part of an inclusive school for the past 15 year.It can be done!

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