Good morning everyone! I hope the world has been treating you well 🙂
This is just a quick selection of obvious statements that seem to have evaded the news recently.
This morning, it was revealed that 25% of students classified as Special Needs (SEN) were ‘misdiagnosed’ and would not need this label if they were taught better and received greater support. A fifth of students in England (just under two million)across all tiers are classified as SEN, and this report was released by Ofsted, who inspects all our institutional establishments. For some reason, this has created great furore in England, but surely isn’t this obvious? To a headteacher looking to plug a hole in his funding or create an excuse for a bad league table, a bunch of kids with SEN can guarantee both. Perhaps when the NUT has blown itself out (“If you give us smaller class sizes-!!!!”) Ofsted might be able to reveal the socioeconomic breakdown of the kids with SEN, and private schools are likely to have to lowest proportion of students with it: SEN is not about the child’s needs, it seems to be more and more about the school’s budget. I find the NUT’s response particularly baffling, as their solution to the problem is to give the kids more support, extra teachers and assistants and such: as in, exactly what they did and still do when I was in primary school 10 years ago.
To a teacher with about 30 kids to manage one of the particularly slow ones might seem to be dyslexic or have ADHD or some sort of indiscriminate special need that a couple of my friends at school had. In Year Eight, one of my friends even graduated out of the special needs class – dyslexia isn’t meant to be something you grow out of, but hers, where she just didn’t pick up reading as fast as the rest of us, meant she was categorised the same.
You’ll probably notice that I’m using ‘categorised’ rather than ‘misdiagnosed’ because SEN is not some incurable disease or whatever and the association is awful. The word cloud below reveals some of what I mean: its a blend of clinical conditions which affect cognition and learning in some way (Fragile X syndrome, Autism), there are those very very controversial diagnoses which only seem to have emerged since drugs were made to treat them (Yeah, I’m looking at you, ADHD and Ritalin) and then there are just vague words, which maybe true, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be branded clinically disabled. A lot of autism workers speak of the need for the acceptance of ‘Neural Diversity’ and at first I couldn’t quite grasp what they meant, but now I definitely do: our measures of achievement are so narrowly academic that anyone moving outside this (such as people who are very well suited to more ‘skilled’ work, as it were, like carpentry or animal management which you don’t get taught in school) is treated like a clinical idiot. Paper is choking people’s creativity!
In related school news, the chef where I work has a four year old son who started primary school this week. He has a Ben 10 coat. She came in yesterday and told me she had to leave right on time to buy her son a new, black, unmarked coat, because the one he had is ‘not advisable’. What the hell is all this school language crap! ‘Not advisable’ sounds like ‘Just to let you know, if he wears it, someone might pick on him’. But no, they mean ‘we want everyone to look exactly the same to nazi-strict standards’. Well, when all those 30 kids run into the cloak room and everyone’s got the same damn jacket (they can’t even have navy blue ones), good luck to that teacher who has to sort that out.