Secret Teacher: funding cuts leave us unable to help SEN children at school

Dec 2, 2017 by

The sheer number of different needs in my class is staggering, but there is no budget to pay for the support my students – and I – so desperately require

Early on in my teaching career, I found myself in charge of a class with a high proportion of special educational needs (SEN) children on the register. The mystery of who would take on this group has been the topic of much discussion in the staffroom, but I was surprised when I was told it would be me.

I’d observed the class before as part of my training. The sheer number of different needs – including autism, severe dyslexia, non-specific learning delays and ADHD – that had to be accommodated staggered me. I couldn’t fathom how the teacher at the time did it. When I asked, they told me it was only possible because they had specialist help.

When this class became mine, much of this support was removed, with most of the help coming from a part-time teaching assistant who had no experience working with children with special needs. I myself had next to no training and spent most of that first term running to the school’s Senco. They were often busy with endless administrative tasks, and would send me away with a bulging file of reports, recommendations and assessments. I actually cried in despair.

My days at school became a whirlwind of frequently interrupted lessons, while I desperately tried to teach anything to the class as a whole, never mind fronted adverbials and the grid method.

I struggled to find and read a story that all of the children could follow. I would work late into the night, frantically searching the internet for resources that I could use. There were children with learning difficulties who could barely hold a pencil, some who would occasionally lash out at other children, another with communication issues. I had to attend meetings with an educational psychologist and weeping parents who blamed themselves for their children’s problems.

Source: Secret Teacher: funding cuts leave us unable to help SEN children at school | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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