Parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) have shared some of their “disastrous experiences” of home schooling their children while classrooms remain closed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week that schools would remain closed until at least the 8th of March.
Children of key workers and vulnerable children have been allowed to return to school but children with SEN have not.
I would not advise you to hold your breath while waiting. The scandalous treatment of this particular group of children in the last 10+ years has deprived a generation of their right to an education that meets their needs. 😢😡
— Susan Aldridge 💙 (@Su51ald19481306) January 21, 2021
Steven Smith is one of the many parents of SEN children who have had to take on teaching responsibilities at home and has admitted it’s been “hugely challenging”.
“He [Jayme] has excess energy that he doesn’t know what to do with,” Smith said.
“He’s always bouncing, hopping, buzzing… around, which means getting him to sit down and actually do something is practically impossible.”
Jayme is one of the 12.1% of children in the UK with SEN and usually receives extra support at school.
Listen: Steven Smith talks about the negative effects that home schooling has had on his family relationships
Helen Turner is home schooling her son, Adam, who has slow memory and processing skills.
“If a task is normally explained to a class of 20, the information has to be reinforced maybe two or three times before he understands what’s been asked,” she said.
“It requires a lot of patience, time, and repetition to help support his needs.”
Listen: Helen Turner talks about what steps she takes to homeschool her son, Adam, who is in Year 8
Dr. Mark Brown is a children’s special needs consultant and is concerned about the long-term impact that these disruptions will have.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“The pandemic has acted as a wake-up call when it comes to children with sen”
Dr Mark brown on the impact of school closures on children
“SEN education has always been a problem and the pandemic has highlighted it even more.”
Both Turner and Smith are keen for more support and guidance from schools to help ease the burden.
“Everything that he [Jayme] knew was stripped away overnight,” Smith said.
“There was nowhere we could turn to and no-one to call.”
Key facts about SEN
- 12.1% of children in the UK are classed as SEN
- 64.6% of these are boys
- Most common types of SEN’s include Dyslexia, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- There are over 128,000 pupils in state-funded special schools
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “For the pupils with SEND who cannot attend, schools should ensure those pupils are able to successfully access remote education and should work collaboratively with families, putting in place reasonable adjustments as necessary.”