We wrote a few weeks ago about the importance of getting Special Educational Needs (SEN) education provision right in England’s schools, and new research confirms all the more that this is a pressing priority. A recent study by The Key, a body that provides information and support for school leaders, suggests that England’s schools are struggling to support the 1.1 million students with special needs or disabilities in mainstream classrooms. Indeed, the vast majority of SEN students are in mainstream classrooms rather than specialist schools, so something is clearly wrong here.
The Key’s research points to a number of reasons for this disparity, according to the BBC:
– 82% of mainstream schools in England do not have sufficient funding and budget to adequately provide for pupils with SEND.
– 89% of school leaders believe cuts to local authority services have had a detrimental impact on the support their school receives for pupils with SEND
– Three-quarters of schools have pupils who have been waiting longer than expected for assessment of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan
– 88% of school leaders think initial teacher training does not adequately prepare teachers to support pupils with SEND.
This situation is fundamentally failing these students, and it is putting even more pressure on teachers who are already overworked and lacking adequate support and training. Teaching assistants (TAs) too, who as we recently pointed out, are increasingly deployed in classrooms without any clear idea of their purpose there. This creates a vicious cycle, whereby teachers and TAs are unable to support students, students fall further behind, and teachers and TAs are left with even more work to pick up, and even less resources at their disposal in order to help with this task.
With all the promises educational technology brings, its potential benefits in this area are sadly yet to be fully realised. Yet surely this is precisely the area good edtech should take up? Creating resources that both engage and support those most in need of additional help.