On Katie’s Calendar we often focus on issues that affect adults with learning disabilities. But what about children and young adults? After all, the education system and the experience of being at school is, generally speaking, the most important time of our lives; particularly when thinking about who we become as adults.
So what does the current school system provide for young people with a learning disability and are things better now than ever before?
An organisation that conducts research about autism recently conducted a report in schools to find out some statistics regarding what teachers think, and some of the figures are a cause for concern. The most worrying of these is that 60% of surveyed teachers do not feel they have been adequately trained to teach children with autism.
Read on to find out more about the report.
The following story comes from one of our children and young people’s supports in Yorkshire:
“When I moved to a ubu registered support in 2011 I had quite a lot of behavioural issues to work through.
I struggled with emotional issues and because of this had altercations with people who I felt I couldn’t trust. I also didn’t go to school as I had recently been excluded from my last one.
ubu were very patient with me and kept re-assuring me that I was safe and supported during this difficult time/transition. This created a change in me and made me feel like I wanted to go back to my education. So I had meetings with a new school at which it was agreed I could attend 3 mornings per week to see how I would fare.
I really enjoyed this new school and found it easier to engage and contribute. Because of this the 3 mornings turned to 3 full days, then all mornings and 3 afternoons and after a couple of months I was added to the full timetable, in a ‘nurturing class’.
My behaviours continued to improve and so did my relationship building skills. This culminated in me being moved to a regular class in September 2012, learning the key state curriculum and I have been doing really well ever since.
At my open day ubu were told that I’m capable of achieving GCSE results! I love school and am really enjoying all that I am doing at the moment. I look forward to one day moving into my own flat and having a job so that I can support myself.”
Many thanks to Brandon for this incredible story. This serves as proof that all of us can achieve what we want with determination, passion and support of those around us. Let’s hope this is recognised by the education system and the necessary improvements are made sooner rather than later.
2013 Schools Report on Autism
The report itself is split into 5 categories; Support at School, Exclusions, Bullying, Achievement and Outcomes.
Within these categories are listed the following findings:
- 35% of teachers think it is harder now to access specialist support for children with autism.
- Of 500 families, 23% reported that their child with autism had been formally excluded from school in the previous 12 months – 4 in 10 of these instances were classed as unofficial or illegal exclusions.
- 42% of parents report that their child with autism often tells them they are being bullied at school.
- 74% of parents say that their child finds break or lunchtimes particularly frightening.
- Though the amount of total pupils achieveing 5 A*-C grades at GCSE increased to 58.8%, the level achieved by children with autism dreceased by 0.6% to 23.8%.
Based on the above it is so crucial that teachers are given the essential training they need to work with children with learning disabilities in achieving the grades and goals they desire. If it is true that over half of teachers think they are unable to meet the needs of young people with learning disabilities, then these issues must be addressed urgently by the state.
We know that everyone, whatever their ability and background, can achieve great things if given the same opportunities and support as everyone else. So making an investment to get things right at an early stage in life will ensure that each person’s goals have the chance to be realised. This will inevitably lead to communities filled with many more independent adults, finding fulfilment through greater self responsibility and self advocacy.
Click through to the next level to read a story by one particularly inspiring young man as he makes his way through the education system.