The History Of Special Educational Needs...


In the early 20th century, ideas about the provision of education for children with special needs were based on a medical model of ‘defects’. This model focused on difference rather than normality, on illness rather than well-being and particularly on the ‘problem’ with the child. Children were given medically diagnosed categories with the emphasis on deficit rather than potential. It is hardly surprising that education for children with SEN originally took the form of separate special schools for those who were thought to need them.

In 1944 significant reforms to the education system were brought into effect. The majority of these reforms were directed at mainstream education and the provision of free education for all. This act still addressed certain aspects of education for children with SEN but still focused on the medical model of a disability. It established eleven categories of ‘handicap’ and children falling into these categories were described in terms of the ‘treatment’ they could receive.

In the 1960s and 1970s, work with children with SEN moved towards an approach favoured by behaviourist psychologists. This approach stressed the need to use operant conditioning techniques. Behaviourists rejected the medical modal and advocated an approach that dealt only with what they could observe, in which some people were very much against this idea and approach but it did prove successful in having a better understanding of different Special Educational Needs. The 60s and 70s paved the way for a new approach to special needs. Attitudes to special education in general started to change, and in part the behaviourist initiatives made the teaching of children with learning difficulties seem more accessible to teachers in mainstream schools. Theses idea helped to promote the possibility of inclusion of children with SEN.

Then in 1993 the Education Act which we all know came in, there were now legal requirements that oblige schools to provide for children with SEN and all schools had to publish their SEN policies and name a SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO). The SENCO would put things in place and provide support for all pupils that have statements of Special Educational Needs.

In September 2014 the new ‘SEN Code of Practice’ was put in to action, this was the biggest shake up to the SEN system in over 30 years. Instead of a child to be given a statement of SEN, the child would be given an Education, Health Care Plan (EHCP) which covers people from birth up to 25 years of age, Parents will have the option to have a greater say in how money is spent on their child’s SEN support and young people are to have the right to be consulted about their support.

Over the years support for children with Special Educational Needs has changed dramatically and improved for the better. As technology and understanding is growing so is the support that people with SEN need. This is a very positive thing to see as with anything in life, as time goes on the exploration and research into SEN will provide us with a better view on how to meet the needs of our young people.

article tags:
blog, news, sen, history, information

Posted By: Maidstone - 27th Feb

Can Autistic children be excluded by Inclusion?

There are a variety of differing views based upon whether children with high functioning Autism should be educated in mainstream schools. According to parents and educators some children cope very well in a mainstream setting and it helps them with their social interaction difficulties, however others can feel socially excluded and overwhelmed by their anxiety and the mountain of expectations thrust upon them on a daily basis.

Children with high functioning Autism usually have very good academic ability, this can often disguise the fact that they struggle with interaction and communication while at school. It is of the opinion that teachers can often overlook this due to a child’s ability to meet academic targets, they often forget that their well-being can be affected by noise, smells and that any negative behaviour can be caused by a sensory over load rather than the intent to purposely disrupt learning.

A common misconception regarding children on the Autistic Spectrum is that those who are verbally capable are able to communicate well with others, however this is not always the case. Some parents put this down to teachers having a lack of understanding and empathy in regards to the reasons behind their child’s actions. They also feel that if mainstream inclusion is to be successful, staff need to know more about Autism and the underlying issues that their children face in school so that a provision can be put in place that caters for their social and emotional well-being as well as their cognitive well-being.

Parents feel that there are a number of things that need to be considered to help their Autistic child to cope in a mainstream setting:

  • Listening to their child is fundamental, high functioning Autism allows them to say when they are feeling safe and comfortable and when they are not.
  • Teachers need to consider their own judgements and look into the reasons behind a child’s behaviour rather than taking it at face value.
  • Increased cooperation between professionals in schools and the opinions of families need to be respected and taken seriously as parents know their children best.

In conclusion, it is clear that some children will cope better than others in a mainstream setting as every child has their own individual needs. However, it has been brought to light that parents feel that some mainstream schools need to have more of an Autistic provision to help their child manage in school. Nurture units and specific ASD classes are favoured and also having an ASD coordinator so that an increased knowledge, expertise and understanding is offered ensuring children get the empathy that they deserve. It is key for schools to find a balance for children with Autism to help them look forward to going to school and avoid them feeling excluded. 

article tags:
Blog, mainstream, Autism, SEN, Inclusion, Exclusion

Posted By: Maidstone - 20th Feb

Fundraising and giving to charity...


Throughout a year we have many events and ‘National Charity’ days where we raise awareness and money for those less fortunate than us. Red nose day is coming up in March and all schools, mainstream and special will celebrate and participate in this event. For children in specials schools they recognise that no matter how complex their own needs, they are still able to help other people. The planning starts in January where the fundraising packs for school come out and resources published on the schools website. The children of all ages and with a diverse range of learning and physical disabilities all come as a team and work together to put on this event. Activities across the week will be put on and a list sent home to the families of the students to tick which they would like to do along with a suggested donation as well as sending home a money pot to collect coppers.

Fundraising is important for a variety of other reasons as well;

1, It allows the children to feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction to know that they have made a difference to those that need it as well being able to enjoy doing the activities at the same time.

2, The growing pressure from the government to ‘do more with less’ it is unfortunately true that many schools and communities are doing this to cut out the programs that they deem as not being essential. This can often mean that many childhood experiences will be lost as well, for example field trips, museums, or a play or concert without fundraising programs. This will have a much greater impact on society than one might realise at the time.

As hard and frustrating as raising funds can be at times, let’s not forget the huge impact it can make for generations to come.

article tags:
blog, news, SEN, fundraising, charity, giving

Posted By: Maidstone - 9th Feb