I’ve got my feet in many camps and my fingers in various pies and I am very lucky for it.
This term so far, my focus has been in the special educational needs and disability (SEND) camp, with a finger firmly planted into the ‘climate change education’ pie. What I do and deal with within my working life is so very diverse and yet incredibly similar.
For young people who have SEND and find learning tricky, the expectations on them and the pathways drafted out for them are smothered in middleclass-ness, carved out in a linear, academic pathway to success and achievement. For those whose strengths may lie outside of those pathways, making sense of school, learning and what-to-do-next in life. The newest ‘cap’ that I wear professionally is that of SENDCo in a small primary school- I’m also a SEND teacher in a mainstream secondary school- and what has struck me this week, is that kids are shortchanged by our system. The cuts in resourcing, government policy and the structures surrounding them are letting them down. Young people reach secondary school with a reading age you might expect in primary school, primary schools are fighting tooth and nail to get children support for social needs, literacy difficulties and life-skills. They are subject to a system that does not meet their needs and value their diverse futures.
It is not good enough. But as teachers and leaders we have our hands tied. There is no money and structures are not fit for purpose.
This week I also had a project meeting about the You and CO2 project I have been working on, alongside some amazing women (Dr Jennifer Rudd, Dr Lyle Skains and Dr Ruth Horry). Again, we were meeting to discuss young people and a system that is utterly unfit for purpose and does not value the future, the voices and the contribution of young people in society. Young people are at the behest of governmental structures, policies and practices that seem to be set up purely for the benefit of shareholders and profiteering.
I’m hoping that with all the different caps I wear: the SENDCo one, the class-teacher one, the SEND expert and researcher one, that I can be useful and help empower our kids build their own ideas, structures and value systems where they edify each other and the diverse strengths that we all have. Hopefully, this will lead to a system, where young people are them empowered to make their views heard on climate change, their future and how to make a sustainable and inclusive world for everyone.
We have to hope for it.