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Teaching in a special school.............

Discussion in 'Personal' started by BelleDuJour, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. I've been quietly reading this thread and was thinking the same thing. You sound like a lovely person but you seem to enjoy being the centre of attention.
  2. dande

    dande New commenter

    What about the susequent posts?
  3. From an outsider's point of view this looks like a few people causing a stir over not much. If you have a problem with BDJ for other reasons shouldn't you deal with that outside of a thread? How old are we all??? Jeeeeeeze!
  4. The school I work at has the reputation of being the place where the 'worst' children come, the last resort before full-time, secure, residential accomodation... it's comparable to most other special schools that take only those with a diagnosis of ASD. Some children are at one end of the spectrum, some at the other, some at various points in between. None of them could cope in mainstream, some of them can't cope at home and need residential care. Some of them are working towards early learning goals in their teen years, some are working at level 1 or 2
    Although I've only been working in this particular field for 4 years <u>my opinion</u>, for what it's worth, is that those staff in specialist ASD schools who feel that 'their' children can't/shouldn't/don't need to access the national curriculum are doing those children a major disservice. They are effectively writing them off. I've seen good, bad and indifferent practice in many different specialist ASD schools. The good, without fail, is always characterised by staff who do their damnedest to provide children with every opportunity to experience an education (based on the national curriculum) that is meaningful and accessible and have high expectations. The staff never stop trying to provide that education no matter how long the child has been in school or how old they might be. The bad is always, again without fail, characterised by low expectations, task-oriented routines and activities and failure to deal with behaviour (usually accompanied by the phrase 'but it's their sensory needs').
    Autism is a developmental disorder. Good staff will identify the stages of development of each child and educate them accordingly. It's not rocket science. It's no different from trying to accomodate the learning needs of a class of 30 in mainstream (and let's face it, how many mainstream classes don't have a proportion of children with needs that might be better met elsewhere these days?). Working in special schools is different and challenging in many ways, but it's no better/worse/deserving of higher praise/recognition than any other phase or type of education. I certainly couldn't hack mainstream and take my hat off to those that do (particularly all you secondary teachers out there).
  5. dande

    dande New commenter

    I don't believe I have ever responded to any of her threads or posts in the past.
  6. My concerns were not based primarily on her first post.
  7. My problem is specifically with comments made on this thread.

  8. I work with all levels of the spectrum and just want to say that dinx 67 is, imo spot on.

  9. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    Birdstock, I think the only person making any kind of a fuss was Belle herself. She was the one who became upset at those with a difference of opinion to hers. She was also the one who became upset, swore at people and asked people to stop posting.
    Everyone else behaved rather well, in comparison.
    I was hoping you might see this, Dinx.
  10. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    'scuse me!
  11. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    and that's exactly where I am working.
    We do try to access NC where possible but, in reality, the NC isn't suitable for many in mainstream so why dress stuff up as 'literacy' or 'numeracy' to give it credibility I don't know.
    We teach about numbers by running a tuck shop, by weighing in cookery and by counting out loud whenever we get the opportunity.
    We teach 'literacy' through PECS and encouraging speaking (most are non-verbal) by asking what colour an object is, what items of clothing are being worn, day and date etc.
  12. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    Accepted! [​IMG]
  13. [​IMG]
  14. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

  15. I've worked in places like that too Belle. We have children with those same difficulties and low levels of ability - ours range from 4-19 and we are a local authority day school. Some of our children are in secure residential accomodation but come to our school for their education.
    And those very things that you are witnessing with the young people in your new school - the behaviours, the lack of progress and development... that's very often (but not always) the result of years of those low expectations, not attempting to provide the education to which these children are entitled and excusing behaviours because 's/he is autistic' that I mentioned in my previous post. It's worth considering that somewhere along the way those children at your school have been failed very badly.
    PECS is not about teaching literacy - it's a method of communication. It's a useful tool for teaching any area of the curriculum, but it's only a tool. Very often it's not taught properly and children are not moved on.
    If your children can use PECS properly - especially if they are working higher than single symbol exchanges - then you have the beginnings of early reading there to work with. In six weeks the children in my class were already making sentences with four or five symbols, using names and attributes, had developed a working sign vocabulary and were using their voices (some talking, some babbling - depending on their stage of development). None of them had used PECS or sign before they arrived at our school. It is not down to me being a fantastic teacher or having wonderful TA's (well maybe a little bit! :p)... it's down to our determination to give these children the best education that we can and enabling them to fulfil their potential. We challenge them every day to do more, achieve more, learn more. We move them on.
    In your first post your mentioned something about young people urinating in the playground? Is that allowed? Autism is not a barrier to continence. Some children with autism may also have continence problems, but there is no reason why a child with autism should be unable to achieve continence at some point.
    Maybe if the young people at your school had different kinds of experiences in their previous settings they might not be where they are now?
    I think it's really important that people working in this particular field question what is done, why it's done and how it's done. These are some of our most vulnerable children and young people and, very often, they are being failed by those who are responsible for educating them. Schools should not be therapeutic communities, or an extension of home (purely my opinion, of course). Our responsibility is to provide an education that meets their needs - and it's not that difficult to teach to a developmental rather than chronological age. Childminders and nursery settings are doing it every day.
    That is numeracy! Numeracy is about much more than numbers. Do you use visual timetables with your children? That's a great way to teach time and chronology. Tuck shops and cookery are perfectly appropriate ways to teach calculating and shape, space and measure.
    Teaching in special is not necessarily compartmentalised into nice, neat subject areas like mainstream. You have to be able to see the links and opportunities in everything you are doing and use them to teach... history, geography, science, RE, PSHE or whatever! But you need to know the children. For some of them history might be understanding what is happening now and that something different is coming next or that today they are going swimming and yesterday they went horse riding. Geography might be navigating around their classroom and school enviroment or knowing where to put their bag and coat. It's just a different way of thinking about the national curriculum and the subject areas and making it meaningful and appropriate to the children.
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    this is not just boll ox, it's offensive boll ox. There was a perfectly reasonable discussion going on before you chose to a) accuse people of being nasty and b) chose to give us your expert opinion.

  17. Dinx, that's useful advice and inspirational all at the same time.
  18. Aw, thanks Airy. I thought it probably sounded like a load of old nonsense! Was it you who asked about special schools being in special measures? Ours was. If you want to know more about the why and how then send me a PM, I can bore for England on the reasons why!
  19. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    thank you Dinx....a lovely post and a lot of useful advice.
    We do encourage speech at all times. We use PECS but encourage the words to be spoken too. We start each day asking each student to greet us and try to get them to talk as much as possible. Many can produce lucid sentences of maybe 5 words, and all attempts to speak are responded to with 'good speaking Jack (or whoever)'. Others are completely non-vocal.
    When I take the boys out for PE I aks them to count out loud my fingers when they take my hand. I ask the colours on the outdoor gym equipment and use any opportunity for...well....literacy and numeracy!
    In terms of urination, we have to record all cases of inappropriate urination but these children can, and do, soil as well, inspite of frequently being taken to the toilet. Some are far worse than others, some hardly have any 'accidents'.
    Some of our children have been failed very badly, but on arriving at this school have blossomed. They have been failed due to red tape and beurocracy, especially as it costs upwards of &pound;150,000 pa to place a child in this school.
    I wasn't going to post any more on this thread but your post is an inspiration, and non-judgemental. Thank you so much for taking the time to post.
  20. dande

    dande New commenter

    I refer you to this post
    It may not be the traditional form of swear words but the sentiment is the same. I wonder if she even recalled posting it.

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