Home-schooling has been in the news again recently, this time relating to the number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) who are home-educated, and it brings to mind personal experiences of when this had to happen in our household for similar reasons to those that one of the parents gave in the news report. Feeling such a need to home-educate because of a perceived, or even in some cases, dare it be said, actual failing of the pupil to thrive in a mainstream school environment, begs the question, is more SEND CPD training needed?
It may be argued that surely there is already enough support available to schools so that home-schooling may not need to be a choice. After all, there are voluntary organisations and charities which provide specialist support and advice on the whole spectrum of conditions, from autism to dyscalculia.
Many schools have attained various recognitions such as ‘Dyslexia or Autism Friendly’ status, and there are many fine, qualified and experienced staff across the country, in primary and secondary schools, who are there precisely because they want to make a difference to the pupils they support. Other schools avail themselves of the advice of local SEN support services and workshops. Some of these involve pupils and staff learning about various aspects of SEN together. So if training and information is out there and is being gratefully received by the schools, there must be other reasons that home-schooling and other alternative education provision is necessary.
The news story referred to is here. This story highlights the decision of a parent to home educate her daughter who has ADHD and Autism. What is notable throughout this account is that some children with autism find it extremely difficult to cope with the kinds of social interactions, unwritten expectations and information overload experienced in a school setting. Then there is the issue of the pupil being able to communicate their frustration and too often this results in a breakdown in the ability to function within the setting.
This is where SEN CPD training needs to move from the awareness-raising first stage of ‘pupils with autism get stressed and have information overload’ to understanding practical ways of working and communicating with the child and family to put in place alternative strategies. This may include stress-relieving calming sessions, a quiet place to work in the school, or individual routines and ways of working. Yes, this takes resources, but that, as they say, is a story for another time.
You can view Connect’s online CPD courses for teachers here.