Crying out for training

7th July 2006 at 01:00
I read Phil Bayliss's article ("No wonder inclusion is a term of abuse", TES, June 16) with interest but ended it with smouldering anger.

Dr Bayliss writes: "In mainstream 'inclusive' settings, our most vulnerable children have their needs met by the least qualified practitioner: the classroom assistant. It is little wonder that these children may experience a school process that borders on a 'form of abuse'."

As a classroom assistant, I feel that the word "abuse" is brutal and am sure I speak for many other classroom assistants when I say this was offensive.

In my profession, I have only encountered dedicated people who want the best for their charges. Like other assistants, I have made huge efforts to understand the needs of the particular child.

Working with special needs children for more than six years, I have encountered scores of children. I have also felt huge frustration when I see the child and the parents buffeted around the system like parcels without postcodes.

Dr Bayliss says the classroom assistant has only "rudimentary" expertise.

Well, whose fault is that?

Perhaps if the Government could take us seriously and realise that we fulfil an important role in the education system, appropriate training might be forthcoming.

For years I have attended lack-lustre courses which often state the blindingly obvious and frequently patronise a room full of intelligent, articulate class-room assistants.

However, I guess that if we had the correct training that we might have to be paid more than a check-out operator in a supermarket. Yes, the system is the "abuser" but please don't slate the poor classroom assistant.

I see towards the end of the article Dr Bayliss relents and says we are "an invaluable resource".

Well, we are crying out for training and to be taken seriously, and then perhaps "para-professional" special needs assistants might become a realistic expectation.

Marian Colyer Classroom assistant Turnfurlong junior school Aylesbury Bucks

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