Fighting for SEN resources

21st February 2003 at 00:00
WhilE sympathising with the views expressed in your article "It's getting scarier" (TESS, February 14), I feel I must write, as a long-time reader, to express disquiet at some of the associations made in this article and in others.

As the wife and daughter of teachers, and the parent of a child who has an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), I have a rounded understanding of the problems within special educational needs.

I am sure that many teachers will share common ground with my belief that the inclusion of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties in the criteria of SEN is highly offensive.

The limited teaching experience I myself acquired within "special" education convinced me that this sector would always fail to offer acceptable educational opportunities to children with SEN, given its paltry resources and the lumping together of children who have educational difficulties with those with social problems borne of economic disenfranchisement.

As many teachers have known for decades, we cannot hope to cure the problems of the disaffected by educational means alone. However, we can literally revolutionise the life chances of children with SEN through appropriate education. Teachers of "special" children may believe that so much is dependent on resources, which indeed it is. Parents of such children know that resources are never given; they must always be fought for.

It is extremely disappointing that The TES Scotland has failed to address the inevitable consequences of the changes proposed for special education in Scotland, through the draft Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Bill. Parents are the only group capable of enforcing current SEN legislation - the draft Bill sweeps away even the chance to force a recalcitrant local authority to fulfil its duties to our children.

Teachers should ask the Scottish Executive how they will be able to teach children on the autistic spectrum, once the current requirement for medical, psychological and other professional assessments is withdrawn - and once the current duty to provide appropriate support, such as speech and language therapy, likewise evaporates.

Fiona Sinclair


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