According to Long (2000), there has been a move away from a simplistic approach to grouping children to within a particular category of 'special need' unless it has implications for the type of educational experiences needed. Commonly used categories are:
emotional and behavioural difficulties
speech and language difficulties
physical or medical problems
With reference to one of the categories above, discuss the role of teachers in working with children with additional needs.
In your answer you should also focus on the effect on learning, how teaching can be adapted to meet student needs, and issues in categorising and labeling students as having additional needs.
In this essay I have chosen to focus on the topic of emotional and behavioural difficulties. I will looking at various topics with the main focus being on the additional need of behavioural and emotional difficulties these topics include the role of the teacher, effects on learning, how teaching can be adapted and issues involved in labelling and categorising pupils with additional needs. Emotional and behavioural disorders "are behaviours that deviate so much from the norm that they interfere with the child's own growth and development and/or the lives of others". (Woolfolck et al, 2007, p165) Emotional and behavioural difficulties are quite common as in 1999 4.1% of boys suffer from an emotional disorder along with 4.5%of girls (http://www.statistics.gov.uk) but this has increased to 30% of primary and 38% of secondary children identified with these additional needs. (DfES, 2004). Emotional and behavioural difficulties is a broad topic and can include many issues. Hollahan and Kauffman (1994) spilt the topic into two categories internalising and externalising these covers many difficulties ranging from internalising problems such as just depression, anxiety and poor peer relationships to externalising issues such as hyperactivity, cruelty to other pupils and defiance in the classroom. As you can see externalising factors will cause far more problems in the classroom however internalising factors can be very serious for the individual.
Role of teacher
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According to (long, 2000, pg244) "all teachers are bound at some time or another to experience children whose behaviour can be a problem". This would indicate that the role of the teacher is a key issue in terms of working with children with behaviour and emotional difficulties. The essential role of a teacher is to develop and promote learning in the classroom. So when there is a child or a group of children with additional needs then the role of the teacher is then to make sure that learning is taking part in the classroom for all pupils through inclusion. According to (long 2000) there has been a move away from separating people with additional needs to a more Inclusive practice. Inclusive practice is the right of all learners to a quality of education that meets basic learning needs. (www.unesco.org). One way in which the teacher can help promote inclusion would be to help nurture pupils to get along with one another and become friends. So if a teacher has a child in the class with a behavioural or emotional difficulty then the teacher can help that child create friendships within the class as this should then help the child become more involved in the class due to having support from peers and less likely to misbehave as they won't want to let their peers down which will benefit the pupils work and achievement in the class. As many pupils with this additional need can suffer from having poor peer relationships so this may leave them feeling left out and alone which could be a reason for them to misbehave as they may feel on their own.
Another role of the teacher in terms of emotional and behavioural difficulties could simply be to spot a problem in the classroom as pupils with this additional need can be split into are two key parts as discussed earlier. Externalising issues are easy for the teacher to see as they will be very obvious and lead to very disruptive behaviour in the classroom whereas internalising factors can easily be looked over as they are not visual and could be problems such as depression. So as a teacher they will need to know there class well in order to spot these problems so that they can help by giving them more help and support in the classroom and making the pupil feel comfortable in the classroom as by the teacher showing a genuine interest in the individuals problems it can help with the problem as it shows that somebody cares and is there to help them.
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As well identifying a pupil with an additional need it then the teacher's role to meet the needs of this pupil. As in many cases a child with an emotional or behavioural difficulty is unaware of a correct way to behave which for many of the other pupils is just common knowledge but pupils with a behavioural or emotional difficulty do not find it as easy. So it is vital that the teacher plays a supportive role to children with behavioural and emotional difficulties as this could help to solve issues if the pupil knows they have the support of somebody. As for example if a child is suffering from depression or anxiety then if they have somebody they can trust and feel comfortable with in the classroom it may help them to gain confidence and hopefully improve learning in the classroom and make school a more enjoyable place for the pupil.
One role of a teacher is to provide pastoral care to all pupils in the class. Pastoral Care is to look after the whole child. It requires a subtle blend of facilitator, instructor, 'parent' and 'friend' when working with an individual or group" NQT handbook - Elizabeth Holmes. This quote shows as well as the teacher being an instructor and helping pupils to learn various subjects such as Math's English etc they have also have other responsibilities to the pupils. A teacher spends a lot of time with pupils especially in primary schools where a teacher takes a class for all lessons then they become a very prominent figure in a child's life. So if the teacher acts as a good role model, is supportive, is caring and makes school a enjoyable place to be then this can help a pupil achieve in school and in terms of emotional and behavioral difficulties then it can help minimize their issues as they will be enjoying school so will be less likely to misbehave if they like the teacher and school. There are many ways in which the teacher can provide pastoral care such as by promoting and safeguarding the health welfare and safety of young people, working in partnership with parents, support staff and other professionals, providing advice and guidance to young people on issues relating to their education and contributing towards good order and the wider needs of the school. (http://www.glasgow.gov.uk).
Another role of the teacher is to communicate with parents of children with additional needs and with other agencies from outside the school. This is a vital role of the teacher as by communicating with parents then it will give children with additional needs the best support in both schools and at home if the parents and schools are communicating. The communication will allow parents to see how their child is doing in school and find out how there behaviour is compared to at home and will allow the teacher to give parents extra information on methods to help their child with work at home. This should ultimately help improve a child's education if they have support at home and in school in terms of work.
The education of a pupil with special educational needs in many cases draws on a major input from an outside specialist, such as a speech therapist for pupils with a speech disability or an educational psychologist which could be used to help pupils with a behavioural or emotional difficulty as if a child is depressed then the psychologist can help get to the base of the problem and help to improve the issue. The teacher therefore needs to effectively communicate with a specialist so that they can assist with any methods the specialist wants to use in order to aid the pupil's needs and to keep the specialist up to date on the child's behaviour and progression. It is important to the welfare of the pupil that the connections between these three are smooth and that there are no inconsistencies or wasted initiatives because of poor communication. (http://www.vnc.org.uk/class/role2.htm). As if there is a breakdown in communication it could lead to a child with an additional need falling behind the rest of the class if they're learning and progress has slowed.
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There are various policies in terms of pupils with additional needs in education. One of the most important is the SEN code of practice. The Code sets out guidance on policies and procedures aimed at enabling pupils with SEN to reach their full potential, to be included fully in their school communities and make a successful transition to adulthood. (http://www.gtce.org.uk/). This is a vital policy as it insures the fair treatment of pupils with sens in schools which will help them gain an education which will give them the skills and knowledge needed for future life.
Removing Barriers to Achievement is another policy in terms of children with SEN's in schools. It sets out the Government's vision for giving children with special educational needs and disabilities the opportunity to succeed. Building on the proposals for the reform of children's services in Every Child Matters, it sets a new agenda for improvement and action at national and local level. (www.teachernet.gov.uk)
EFFECTS ON LEARNING
Behavioural problems at any level can have a significant impact upon children's educational progress Mc Gee et al (1986). When looking at the effects on learning that behavioural and emotional difficulties have in school there are two key areas to look at firstly the effects that it will have on the individual with an additional need and secondly the effect it will have on the rest of the class if there is a pupil in the class with an additional need. When looking at the individual there are many factors that can effect there achievement as if they have a behavioural difficulty then it could mean they are in trouble a lot which may mean they are sent out of the class therefore missing a lot of work which will then lower their chances for achievement. Also if the pupil is constantly in trouble then this may become frustrating for the pupil so they will lose motivation to work in class and resent the teacher and could then become anti school. Pupils with behavioural difficulties suffer from having poor attention in class and poor concentration and According to (long 2007 pg 245) "poor concentration and attention seemed to have a particularly damaging effect on subsequent learning progress".
Equally the rest of the classes chances of achievement can be lowered as if the teacher is constantly disrupted and distracted by dealing with pupils with additional needs then it will mean less time spent teaching the rest of the class which may then mean a class not fully understanding topics as they have not spent enough time in class learning it as the teachers focus is on the minority with additional needs.
There are many ways in which teaching can be adapted to meet all students needs. One way in which teaching can be adapted is by changing the class environment. The class environment can simply be changed by editing the layout of the classroom or the style of the classroom. "Classroom layout has a strong effect on students behaviour and learning and on their perceptions of what will happen inside the room". (Cowely, 2009 pg 158)As if the class room is well presented with displays on the wall, nice and tidy and bright and colourful it will make it a more enjoyable place for a pupil to be. If it is enjoyable then hopefully it will increase learning if they are enjoying themselves as pupils will be more willing to learn due to a more positive attitude. Also in terms of pupils with a behavioural problem then the teacher may make sure they are sat near the front as this should help to keep them focused and less susceptible to disruptiveness or disrupting others, as well as benefiting the individuals own learning it could also help the whole class' learning as it will lead to less distractions in the class for the teacher to deal with so more time spent covering topics.
Another way in which the teacher can adapt to meet the needs of all students is through the use of rewards and sanctions. Firstly there are many advantages to using rewards such as children of all abilities can gain recognition, attention is shifted from undesirable to desirable behaviour, self esteem is boosted, leading to a positive atmosphere and children become motivated to strive to improve (Wright, 2007, pg 147). This will especially help children with behavioural difficulties as rewards should act as a good motivator and something for them to achieve so may help to improve their behaviour. These rewards should be changed regularly so that they do not become repetitive or boring as then they will lose their value.
As well as rewards teachers may also use sanctions. Sanctions may be a good deterrent for bad behaviour but if a child is suffering from an emotional or behavioural difficulty then there behaviour can play up many times so if they keep getting punished it will only make them worse as they will build up resentment for a teacher or school if they keep punishing them. As (Cowley, 2009) states if sanctions are used too frequently they may not act as an effective deterrent. So in terms of pupils with behavioural difficulties if a pupil is constantly misbehaving then if a keeps punishing them every time then eventually these punishments will become meaningless so this is where a teacher may adapt their style to a more reward focused style as to focus attention on positives.
LABELLING AND CATAGORISING
Over the years education has gone through vast changes in styles and not surprisingly so have the attitudes towards the inclusion of pupils with a special educational need. There are three main view points to how children with SENs should be included. Firstly the view was that SEN's pupils should be segregated and in specialist SEN's schools which are specially built facilities to accommodate there additional needs which are accessed by other pupils with a similar additional need. there are many arguments for and against this as some see this as the best solution due to the pupils having specialised teaching and schools set up for their additional needs however some argue that pupils learn from their peers so in terms of the additional need of emotional and behavioural difficulties if children are in classes full of other children with similar problems then they will only learn from them whereas if they were in mainstream classes they could pick up good behaviour characteristics from their peers.
Secondly there are those that think it should be more integration based. Integration in terms of schools is where schools are joined at a single point and share access to common facilities such as dining halls. The connection points between schools and the activities that can be accommodated there gives a strong impression of the relationship between the two and their approach towards the integration of students. Such points of integration can be visual as well as physical connections. More integrated school approaches have shared entrances and direct access between to the two schools, whilst maintaining separate facilities and clear boundaries (www.imagineschooldesign.org). So this approach would have pupils with SENs being taught in a separate part of the school but then at dinner time would share facilities with all pupils.
Finally there is the inclusion view this is where all pupils are taught in the same classes regardless of the fact they may have additional needs. This is what long is talking about when he says there has been a move away from a simplistic approach to grouping pupils as special needs and that now inclusion is encouraged as much as possible. In terms of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties they were seen as potentially causing more concern and stress than those with other types of special needs due to their disruptive nature which may make inclusion more difficult for these particular pupils.
Including and educating children with disabilities in mainstream schools is an important policy goal for many countries. (OCED, 1999 pg 17). Also in the U.K the education act of 1996 it states that there is a duty to educate children with special educational needs in mainstream schools as long after taking an assessment which Is set out in the education act under the SEN code of practice and the child also has the right to be educated in a mainstream school unless that is incompatible with the wishes of his parent, or the provision of efficient education for other children. (www.legislation.gov.uk)
REFERENCES - One complete alphabetical list with no sub-headings
(Psychology in education By Anita E. Woolfolk, Malcolm Hughes, Vivienne Walkup).
Â Inclusive education at work: students with disabilities in main stream schools By Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Cowley, S (2009). Getting the buggers to behave. London: Continuum International.
Long, M. (2007) The Psychology of Education. London: Routledge
Wright, D (2007). Classroom Karma. Abingdon: David Fulton Publishers
Rob McGee, Sheila Williams, David L. Share, Jessie Anderson, Phil A. Silva THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPECIFIC READING RETARDATION, GENERAL READING BACKWARDNESS AND BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS IN A LARGE SAMPLE OF DUNEDIN BOYS: A LONGITUDINAL STUDY FROM FIVE TO ELEVEN YEARS Journal of Child Psychology and psychiatry volume 27, issue 5 pages 597 - 610 september 1986