Children that have special needs within a mainstream school need different things to help their learning than can be found in the everyday mainstream classroom. This may be:
other resources such as modified equipment (e.g. larger keys on computer keyboard)
differentiated planning (and the resources to go with it) so that they can follow their own specified
programmes of education (normally in small groups of less than six pupils and in some cases 1:1)
or the support of an additional adult within the classroom or particular lessons (e.g. PE).
And all of these additional resources require money to be spent on them from the school’s budget.
In theory, the school receives extra money to provide this but the actual reality is that due to funding cuts we receive way less than the actual cost of what we seek to implement. My planning and creating of all special resources for all the special needs classes that are delivered by my team is done in my “own” time outside of the regular school hours that I work 8am-5:30pm – I work most days without a lunch break because that is the time I can see other teachers or children when they are not in class working! I get up at 5 a.m and work most weekends and as for the long school holidays well that is the time I get to do more research on what might work for those children who do not learn the same way other children do. Please don’t tell me teachers have an easy life!
Funding is the bane of my life as there seems to be so little extra for all the extra provision that is required – it does not follow those children who need it - and due to changes in the UK it is now not even demarcated in our budget so actually knowing what has been provided gets harder too so no way to check if we really have received what we should have. Our funding per pupil also changes dependent upon whether you are an academy, a secondary school, a special school and for us as a primary school we receive the least amount and yet are expected to provide what the other schools do. Parents are not really aware of any of this as the Local Authority tells them that a child with special needs will be catered for adequately in mainstream as money is available as well as specialist resources. It used to be that a child who was given a statement (normally 15 hours per week for a support assistant to work with them during the mornings) was given the funding by the Local Authority – this has now changed and the school is expected to provide those 15 hours from their own budget and then if any additional hours are needed this will be funded by the authority (except that the money they give is not actually enough to pay the assistant their actual wages plus the school’s employer taxes so we lose out again!)
Frustration comes from not having the answer to all the myriad of problems I deal with and that these children (through no fault of their own) are desperately trying to work within classrooms that have widening gulfs and expected levels that are way too high for them to achieve and no satisfactory ways of recording this (on national systems the SEN child has achieved 1APS point in a year – other children should achieve this in one term – therefore their statistic looks awful – however for them this is an amazing achievement that everyone who actually knows that child recognises – but the government would treat this as a failure in teaching staff!!) Do you see where I’m coming from?
Sorry this post is such a wail but I just needed to vent. I just want the children I work with to be recognised for the effort they put in everyday – the adults they work with to be acknowledged for the time and effort they put in (many of my team are doing many things above their actual pay level – for the love of the kids!) and for there to be adequate funding so that these children can work to the best of their ability with the support that is needed throughout the day rather than just pockets here and there!
Let me know what you think and please if you can offer any solutions or you are a secret millionaire and want to donate leave your comments below.
My TpT product is to do with F is for French (something lots of my children with special needs actually enjoy because it’s new learning for all so not such a wide gulf between them and their peers!!)