All trainee teachers should experience working with pupils with special educational needs to avoid the likelihood of classroom exclusion, according to an expert in literacy-based learning difficulties.
Jules Daulby, director of education at the Driver Youth Trust, which offers support to children with literacy-based learning difficulties, said too many children with special educational needs and disabilities were being drummed out of school because their literacy difficulties were not being picked up early enough.
Ms Daulby believes that with more training, teachers will be better equipped to deal with SEND pupils within the mainstream classroom setting.
“It would be really useful for all teachers to go and work in a special school or to be a teacher assistant for a couple of weeks, do something to do with children with learning difficulties as part of their training and continued training as well," she said.
The charity seeks to raise awareness among teachers so that they can spot traits of learning differences early on to ensure pupils receive the tailored support they need.
In an interview with Tes, Ms Daulby said children with “complex lives” often risked falling through the net of early intervention because there were so many issues to attend to.
Instead of being segregated, children with learning difficulties should be kept in mixed-ability classes so that they can absorb language from others, she argued. “They should be with their peers, and they should have high-quality intervention for half an hour a day.”
Teachers also need skills to help identify "non-responders" - namely, pupils whose learning disability is so severe that they will never learn to read and write and will need support to access the curriculum, such as using assistive technology. "One of my students has come out of university with a first, is doing a PHD, and still can’t read and write,” Ms Daulby said.
This is an edited version of an article in the 15 June edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here