Can we afford (not) to?: supporting learners with SEND

My PhD focussed on supporting young people with dyslexia and explored how they understood themselves through their relationship with their dyslexia. On one hand, I found that young people could frame their dyslexia positively and that is didn’t need to impact their access to learning and pr

ogress negatively. ON the other hand, a bleak picture was painted through the discussions I had with those participating in my research. There were many things that they ‘would like’ to have been able to do, or that ‘would have’ made a real difference to young people’s experiences. The key factor that was causing the ‘would’ aspect of teachers’ and parents’ responses was the utter lack of resources that the school was facing, in light of austerity and education cuts.

This is why, when I read this article on the Times Educational Supplement website today about research priorities linked to supporting young people with learning difficulties, my heart sank. There is no money.

The University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with charities, social media and professional organisations across Scotland has set out its view of what are the 10 highest priority areas for research so that young people’s needs are better understood. Rightly, young people were consulted and their voices were listened to in this process, which involved over 700 organisations. The number one priority identified was linked to teacher training and improved educational provision; this is excellent and acknowledges the pivotal place that schools, training providers and educators hold in supporting learners with SEND as they prepare for life after formal education. However, even if we have all the knowledge in the world and more, if we don’t have resources to put that knowledge into practice, its pursuit risks becoming of little value to those who need it most. England risks being in this position.

 

I do not know any teachers who do not want the best for their kids or who do not wish to m

eet their needs. I know of many teachers and teaching assistants whose main turn of phrase after a hard day at school starts with, “I would have…” but for lack of resources. We need this to change so that we can change the future pathways of our most vulnerable kids and support them to be their best-selves.

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