Shortcomings in special needs education found by review

A REVIEW of special needs and disability provision in Guernsey schools has recommended that more help and resources should be given to children who require this support, so they can achieve their potential.

Le Murier School, where children of secondary school age with special educational needs are taught. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29397869)
Le Murier School, where children of secondary school age with special educational needs are taught. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29397869)

One of the key findings was families, school leaders and teachers should be provided with a clear and unambiguous expectation on what should be provided routinely in school and what might be provided centrally from other services.

‘There is substantial effective practice happening to support learners with Send [children with special educational needs and disabilities] across Guernsey and Alderney.

‘However, this practice is not consistent everywhere and so the experience of learners and their families can vary significantly.

‘There are several contributing factors to the inconsistency, including a lack of systematic and strategic collaboration between services and an over-reliance on the good-will of key individuals.’

The analysis found that between 22 and 23% of pupils in primary schools were identified as having special educational needs and disability.

That figure increases to between 24 and 26% in secondary schools.

In total 18 recommendations were made by the National Association for Special Educational Needs, which was commissioned by the States last year to undertake the review.

Among the suggestions were that the age range for access to Send should be extended from the current five to 18 years, to birth to 25 years.

It also recommended that there should be a real-terms year-on-year increase in resources, and a substantial and ongoing programme of professional development for teaching staff.

The report advises that special needs co-ordinators should be established in each school, and that person should not be on the classroom rota.

In surveys with pupils, parents, families and teachers, only 54% believed that children and young people with Send can achieve their potential in Guernsey.

Fewer than one in 10 parents and carers thought that it was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to find out what provision was available to support children and young people with Send.

Only one in five parents and carers, and one in four educational professionals felt there were sufficient resources.

However, learners were more optimistic on this point, with half responding that there were enough resources.

Half of education professionals reported that teachers and support staff consistently had access to Send training if they needed it.

Nine families provided further interviews in order to gain a lived experience of the issues.

The interviewers found that the majority felt ‘unheard’, some felt they were not believed or trusted, having a child with learning difficulties was described as financially difficult, and there was inconsistent awareness about what pupils with Send were entitled to.

Education, Sport & Culture has pledged that it will take ‘all possible steps’ to implement the 18 recommendations, and added that some will require a States decision.

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