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educating children with special needs

Comment 2nd July 2010

My idea is that we need to cut through the red tape that makes achieving an educational statement for children with special needs often a two-year process.  Caring parents push through echelons of teachers untrained in psychology to reach diagnosis by an educational psychologist.  Children without that care fall by the wayside even at this initial level, often being deemed ‘naughty’ and from problem families.  They can cause havoc in the classroom, become resentful, alienated and drop out.  Our prisons are full of illiterates and localities are scrawled with graffiti as such people try to validate their existence.

It’s simply wrong to try to herd our children into a ‘one size fits all’ education system.  A Freedom Bill should acknowledge the right of the individual to be respected by society, within legal limits.

I propose that we cut through hierarchy to make Educational Psychologists directly available in schools, acknowledging that the extent of the ‘special needs’ issue has been vastly under-recognized to date in a pejorative society where punishment and justice have taken precedence over prevention of anti-social behaviour.

If children were diagnosed early and given appropriate support and direction then we could save millions, or even billions, on mopping up the mess created by alienated, unhappy individuals.  This would not just save money, but alleviate human suffering.

I speak as a teacher of 25 years experience, now running my own educational consultancy.  I do 121 coaching and find that of the students referred to me 90% have undiagnosed special needs.  I liaise frequently with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of Trinity College, Cambridge and publish regularly on educational matters in ‘Mensa Magazine’, being a member of the high IQ society.

Why does this matter?

My idea is important as it will cut social costs significantly in the medium and long term: funding for prisons and welfare would drop dramatically if we had a society where more citizens felt they could have a positive stake.  It would also decrease stress levels for teachers and children in what has lately been a hugely pressured system, saving on the country’s huge medical bill.  Let’s cut to the chase: prevention is surely better than fire-fighting ‘cure’?

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