Caring About Education: Why Finding The Right School Matters

 

Master Sgt. Jeff Villemarette helps a boy with cerebral palsy color during a special education class April 27, 2010, at the Nadjeshda Children's Center in Kyrgyzstan. Nadjeshda is home for 60 children and teenagers who are disabled in different ways. Sergeant Villemarette is assigned to the Transit Center at Manas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carolyn Viss)

Master Sgt. Jeff Villemarette helps a boy with cerebral palsy color during a special education class April 27, 2010, at the Nadjeshda Children’s Center in Kyrgyzstan. Nadjeshda is home for 60 children and teenagers who are disabled in different ways. Sergeant Villemarette is assigned to the Transit Center at Manas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carolyn Viss)

 

Article 24 of the 2006 Rights of People with Disabilities states that every child deserves the right to an appropriate education. However, some mainstream schools are still neglecting the proper care for children with disabilities.

 

Our children need to be included in every facet of the school system, from having the right support in the classroom, and times away on field trips and excursions. Yet, inclusion is a still a problem, and many parents are sending their children to special needs schools as some mainstream schools are under equipped.

 

Why is mainstream schooling important

 

For years, disabled children have been excluded from their peers, being segregated into special needs schools. While this is the preferred choice for some parents, there are children with disabilities who may be held back in their education as special needs staff try to accommodate all skill levels. Having a physical disability, such as cerebral palsy, does not indicate a lack of intelligence. In mainstream education, children who are disabled and non-disabled should be educated together, to receive the same level of learning.

 

Another reason why inclusion is important is with regards to feeling isolated. Our children should not be pushed away into a ‘special unit’ within the school as they deserve to have the opportunity to make friends with children of all abilities. After school, there are job opportunities for disabled people, but without the opportunity to socialise with those in the ‘mainstream,’ our children may not be able to face the pressures of the wider world. There will always be those who bully our kids for being different, but it is important to learn to ‘toughen up’ to readily be able to face up to life’s demands.

 

Inclusion not integration

 

There is a difference between the two terms.

 

Integration suggests our children are supposed to fit into the school without their needs being properly met. We do have to accept the ‘middle ground’ that there are areas where our children will need to adapt, but there has to be more of a focus on inclusion. This means schools adapt their policies and teaching methods to accommodate those children with specific needs.

 

The government now give parents the choice between mainstream and special school education, but more still needs to be done to ensure a proper education is achievable in both. It seems that special schools are largely set up to move children on to adult day services when they are older, and this undermines the impact our kids can have on the world. Inclusion into the mainstream can help take away the labelling that is prevalent in our society, and give our children the self-esteem they need to succeed in life.

 

Going forward

 

Do your research. There are organisations set up to help you manage the needs of your child, and they may have advice on the best local schools for your child.

 

When you have found an appropriate school, remember that you are an expert when it comes to your child. Support the school with the IEP for your child, and be available to encourage staff, and share the wisdom of your experiences with them.

 





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