Thursday, March 16, 2023

UK Schools Need More Specialist Help For Primary Age Children With Additional Needs


As a result of the ongoing pandemic over the past two years, schools have faced a number of challenges, including the need to offer remote instruction to students and walking a tightrope between public health concerns and student rights to quality education during constantly shifting conditions. School operations and staffing challenges during the pandemic have perhaps been more acute than any other challenge. A number of schools nationwide have been hampered by unfilled janitorial, bus, teachers aide, and substitute teacher positions.

School staffing levels in the UK are at an all-time low. From March onward, COVID-19 cases have been rising dramatically after an initial decline at the beginning of the year. The school environment is one of the clearest examples of this. The free testing in most schools was eliminated in January, along with all mitigation measures (which were inadequate to begin with). The free testing program in special schools was also discontinued on Friday, leaving children at risk of contracting the virus without any protection.

School Children Are Being Sent Home:

More and more often because teachers are calling in sick, sometimes for days at a time. Due to a shortage of teachers, online learning is not available in most cases.

Ofsted says that primary schools need to provide more specialist support to vulnerable students with special needs. 7,000 primary school-age children have been referred to alternative provision (AP) over the last five years, a quarter more than in the previous five years. In schools where violent or verbally abusive behavior is a problem, and other pupils or staff may suffer as a result, these units may be used. APs could provide a positive option for children who are being expelled due to aggressive behavior, according to Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman.

It is not uncommon for vulnerable children to languish in APs that can’t provide the specialist support they need for years because external support is limited and waiting times for a special education place are lengthy.

There is a Possibility That These Children Will Live with the Consequences Well into Adulthood.”

Ofsted conducted research into why the children were being referred to APs in the first place, the challenges faced by schools and local authorities, and what these units might do to support them. She spoke after conducting interviews with parents, school staff, and local authority staff. Some children with special needs stay in AP for years while they await a place at a special school, according to Ofsted, which found that most primary-age pupils only attend part-time, according to Ofsted.

According to Ousted, the lack of appropriate teaching and specialist support for these vulnerable children may have had long-term consequences for these AP staff members.

As a Result of the Pandemic,

There has been a strain on specialist services in primary schools, making it more difficult to support pupils who have special educational needs.

Speech and language therapists, as well as educational psychology services, were feared to be limited in availability, resulting in more referrals and possible permanent exclusions. Children were referred to AP because of insufficient training, funds, and facilities, Ofsted found.

Referrals to the AP Were Sometimes Used in These Cases as a “Circuit Breaker,”

As a means of repairing these relationships while still making an effort to assist the child. As a mediator between parents and the school, the AP played a crucial role.

It was believed that a pupil’s violent behavior was often the result of a difficult home life or undiagnosed special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The study found that many of the children had health, social, and emotional needs. The school team, the child and the AP worked together to find a better setting for the child in the future, including a special school, while the child returned to mainstream education.

Schools View APs:

As an important tool for identifying children’s needs early and preventing their behavior from becoming worse. As a result, AP staff say they have been unable to do as much outreach work as they would like. A number of APs were found to have specialist teams on site, which made understanding and addressing pupils’ needs much easier.

APs might also be able to assist families whose members have emotional, cognitive, or learning needs.

Some parents were unsure whether their child’s improved behavior and academic work would result in substantial changes that would leave them as happy infants after they left an AP, but most said their child’s behavior and academic work had improved.

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