The vast majority have agreed that education not only plays a vital role in a young person’s life, but also a pivotal role in the future life choices that they will have access to. It can be assumed that parents now realise how hard educating is. They have also become more acutely aware of the specific needs of their child.
It is often stated that all children matter, however the reality of classroom teaching does not match this sentiment. Many children with additional needs and neurodiversity become invisible within the education system through no fault of teachers, who are usually totally aware of the issues faced by the students but lack the training or resources to tackle them. Severe lack of funding, lack of specialist knowledge and large class sizes result in these children being contained rather than educated.
It has been widely reported how stressful and intimidating homeschooling has been for parents. Whilst autonomy for schools is a bedrock of our education system, it has meant that there has been a huge disparity between the support and resources made available to parents at home. This was hard enough for those children who don’t have additional learning needs, but for those with dyslexia or other neurodiversity the gap between these children and their peers will inevitably have widened. Teachers were tasked with setting work that could be attained by the many, but this has meant that those with additional needs have no doubt fallen further behind.
Now is the chance for parents, educators and policy makers to take stock of the importance of education for all children. In every school class the diversity of children is vast. The simple fact is only those children with the most severe behavioural or educational needs that limit the learning of others receive additional funding.
Roughly 1 in 5 children are dyslexic. However, there is no additional money for children if they are either dyslexic or have speech and language difficulties, or simply take longer to acquire the skills needed to move their learning forward.
Parents, educators and policy makers need to start addressing this disparity in our education system. We are facing a situation where a large number of bright, intelligent, curious and diverse children could be left behind. COVID-19 could be the springboard that allows all children’s needs to be addressed.
An additional challenge faced by schools is that highly qualified and motivated teachers are choosing to leave the profession because they know that they cannot meet the needs of children in their care. Without access to in-school specialists, teachers are often in a no win situation. They know they can’t help sufficiently but are powerless to change this as they have no support.