Special needs education has evolved greatly over the years. Today, schools everywhere are becoming more and more accepting and accommodating of people’s differences. Does this mean that those with disabilities and learning impairments now experience a smooth and easy ride in education? No, it does not.
There’s still more work here that needs doing, and further advances and progression are perfectly possible. Still, that key question remains; just how can special needs education be improved? Consequently, here’s how schools can better tackle this problem…
Everything starts with money. Without the proper funding required, those in charge of caring for special needs education pupils will find themselves failing at every turn. Staff need to be paid, facilities need to be funded, and placements made available. However, local councils are unable to spend enough money on these programmes. It forces many vulnerable kids to abandon their courses and be educated at home instead.
This issue grew to be so severe, that in April 2018 families crowdfunded legal action against the special needs budget cuts, taking matters into their own hands. They were fighting against a lack of provision of transport for children with special needs, speech and language therapy, and of teaching assistants essential to providing one-to-one support. Such support is critical to keeping special needs children in mainstream schools. Obviously, these issues are far too severe to be swept under the carpet.
Of course, it’s wrong to expect families to find a fix themselves. If schools can afford all the new technology they’re integrating into their classrooms, they can afford more placements too. It’s the government and the councils that should be discovering and implementing workable solutions here. Unfortunately, however, that responsibility seems to have fallen to the parents in some capacity. Ultimately, struggling families need to be taken seriously by the ruling authorities, and budgets need to be bolstered, not cut.
Special needs education has a certain image across the country. Many people think of it as a programme kids are enrolled on when they need ‘extra attention’ in their learning. However, the exact opposite is often the reality here. These children are often removed from regular classes and callously neglected. They’re cordoned off in a different room so as not to slow down the ‘brighter’ pupils in their studies.
When budgets are significantly slashed, support falls by the wayside too. Many kids don’t receive any kind of specialist care, and occasionally their problems go undiagnosed. Reportedly, there were 2,060 children in 2018 who had education, health and care plans who received no support at all. Concerned parents have also claimed that some children are only assessed for difficulties when they’ve already been excluded from their respective schools. It should be clear to anyone that this level of outstanding negligence can’t go on.
Improvements could likely be made here if pupils were assessed on their abilities upon admittance to schools. So too if greater attention was given to their results. The sooner any struggles or difficulties can be identified in a pupil, the more responsive a school can be in providing the appropriate level of care and support for that child.
Special needs education is supposed to bring out the best in the pupils enrolled on these programmes. However, the reality is unfortunately different to the mandate. It’s no secret that those with special needs feel intense shame and segregation rather than a sense of pride or belonging. Their ‘different’ mode of learning is seen as a weakness, and unfortunately, many of their peers look down on them for it.
Regrettably, many of the kids who are enrolled on special needs education courses and programmes do report significant bullying in their day-to-day lives. After all, young children in schools get bullied for so much as looking a bit different, so the toll of being enrolled on entirely different classes to the majority of their peers will ultimately be large too. Consequently, schools need to improve the culture surrounding special needs education and the attitudes toward it. It’s not a case of better or worse, stupid or smart – it’s just different, and that’s okay!
Ultimately, these kids need to be integrated into their schools in a much better capacity. They should take part in all the same trips, extracurricular and school events, and be just as much a part of the student body as any other pupil. Once the bullying is rooted out and they feel a sense of pride in their education, it’s quite likely they’ll have a more prosperous future.
I'm a freelance copywriter with an undergraduate degree in English Literature. I've written for many different outlets, including but not limited to marketing agencies, graduate recruitment websites, and online training companies. I've even interviewed a few famous actors for student and arts blogs too! Covering a wide span of material has been incredibly rewarding, as I get to turn my experiences in the arts, education and careers into helpful advice. I sincerely hope you'll find something to your liking here!