Special Day

September 8, 2008 at 8:12 pm (Teaching) ()

So day one is over.  Well it’s not really day one of my course actually.  It’s day one of “Primary School Experience Week”.  I may be doing a secondary PGCE but I still have to experience what the land of the munchkins is like.  I have to say until today I was thinking it would prove to be a pointless exercise.  However I can now see that it’s going to be a worthwhile week.  I’m not sure all other students doing it this week are going to feel the same way but I have landed on my feet in terms of experience.

You see the class I’m observing has a large number of children with special needs. This is my first experience of seriously disabled, constant attention needing students.  Students who literally need one on one attention in order to achieve anything.  Sure the class has teaching assistants but not as many as the number of kids with SENs.  Any independent work means all the TA’s and the teacher are taken up wholly with the SEN kids leaving the other kids grasping for the few minutes spare attention they can grab.

Don’t get me wrong – the teacher I’m following is fantastic and the one who brought these issues to my attention.  What has massively impressed me is the way in which they are working towards the best solution to make sure all the kids in the class – regardless of needs levels – are going to get a fair share of attention.

No it just makes me think back to when I’ve heard political discussions about the issue of Special School versus mainstream schooling and I’ve nodded sagely along with whatever conventional wisdom other people said however I’d not given enough thought to the implications. One day thinking about the issue has left me sat on the fence.  From my basic political views I think if a parent wants to send their child to an exclusively special needs school then they should have that right and I still do believe that but I’m not sure what’s best for the child anymore.  In fact to rephrase I’m not sure what’s best for children.  Keeping people with severe disabilities segregated has impacts both positive and negative on the children in question as well as the other children they go to school with.

It’s definitely going to take me more than a day to figure it out.  And right now I’m exhausted from the munchkins so it’s time to take the thinking cap off.



  1. John Connell said,

    I’m glad you enjoyed your week with the ‘munchkins’ – more importantly, it’s great to see you beginning to contend with one of the really thorny issues in education over the past 10 or 15 years.

    You have a nice writing style Miss Conception and I look forward to following your year in PGCE, even if it is in the backwater of secondary education 🙂

    John Connell

  2. Miss Conception said,

    Thanks for the encouragement John. Hopefully it won’t get too muddy for you 🙂

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