I mean REALLY see them for who and what they are?
Today, I was going to write about how two thirds of secondary schools can’t find maths teachers after reading about it. Then I was going to link to another article where Professor Jo Boaler discusses primary teachers’ experiences of maths teaching and how they appear to be scape-goats for young people’s problems with maths at secondary school.
However, when perusing the teacher-press, I happened upon a title that caught my eye: “We were so busy fixing’ Otto, we missed what he was good at”. This piece rang so true! Young people with SEND may have things they find tricky. However, they may also excel in other areas and this can be missed! I have written previously about young people whose strengths don’t lie in academics, but this is a topic that keep rearing its head as Ofsted’s ‘teach to the test’ model of learning has proliferated too many young lives.
My work as a Special Needs Teacher for the last 5 years and Special Educational Needs Coordinator for two of those has seen me working with young people whose maths and English may have been wobbly, but who were internationally renowned horsewomen, outstanding athletes or who spoke 3 languages with ease. What strikes home with these young people is the expectation in schools that they must not be taken out of maths or English lessons for their support/intervention sessions. Maths and English sessions are enshrined within curricular spacing, their omnipresence in young people’s lives never to be affected. However, other curricular areas have always been ‘fair game,’ as I perceive it, for the scheduling of support and intervention.
While I do not decry the need for maths and English, I do worry that other areas of potential excellence area sacrificed in the pursuit of every child’s ‘success’ at school; for whose benefit is this (the final benchmark by which schools are measure is still set at grade 4 or above in maths and English)?
We need to allow our kids to shine at whatever their area of strength is, and before scheduling all their interventions in music or French, take the time to find their gifts. Our kids can surprise us every day, if we just stop to see them!