Wayne’s background circumstances would suggest that his educational attainment both in primary and post primary would be impacted on negatively as he progresses through school. His life outside of school is challenging and lacks stability. Wayne has already been witness to substance abuse and poverty, his home life also appears to lack routine and Wayne’s grandmother often has to step in to care for him. Wayne’s lunches often indicate that he is given food of poor nutritional value. Wayne history of absenteeism has been high in both the previous school year and in the Early Start Programme which he attended. If this is to continue it will be a huge obstacle for Wayne and will be detrimental to programmes put in place to improve his educational progress and outcomes.
All these factors will be a detriment to Wayne’s progress in school, furthermore Wayne’s academic progress is of major concern, ‘Wayne is already falling behind his class group at literacy and numeracy’ (Case Study). This is very worrying as research indicates that children who fail to master reading and literacy skills in primary education are more likely ‘to experience failure, social and economic hardship and are likely to be an ongoing burden to society’.(Succeeding in Reading? Reading Standards in Irish Primary Schools 2005)
There are numerous programmes which Wayne may avail of in primary and post primary education. These include HSCL, SCP, GCEB, BTC, DAS and Literacy and Numeracy schemes. These schemes have been brought into the SSP under DEIS.
When Wayne moves onto post primary education he will have options of different programmes which he can choose to do such as the Junior Certificate School Programme and the Leaving Certificate Applied which are detailed further on in this report.
The earlier Wayne improves his literacy/numeracy skills the better, as the wider the gap becomes between himself and his peers, the more difficult it will be to complete class work and the further Wayne shall fall behind. If Wayne continues on the path of high absenteeism and if he does not avail of beneficial services, then research will suggest that Wayne will achieve low academic scores, poor literacy/numeracy skills, potentially leading him to leave school early.
Wayne’s potential future educational outcomes indicate that he may range from very poor to a reasonable standard as he moves into the senior classes depending on his progress. A positive outcome would enable him to easily complete certain programmes in post primary education. To achieve a level at the higher end of this scale Wayne will need to avail of the supports which are/will be in place for him. He will need to work hard as too will his home support network to ensure his level of absenteeism is reduced and the stability in his routine is improved. Unfortunately cases similar to Wayne’s often land on the lower end of the scale due to the difficulty of implementing and maintaining improvements such as those listed and the influences of negative factors outside of school associated with this disadvantaged area.
It is also important to highlight again that Wayne demonstrates behavioral difficulties in class. These impacts negatively on his potential educational attainments and unless they improve will do so in senior classes and into post primary education. An assessment for Wayne will potentially entitle him to avail of extra services which will benefit him. On top of Wayne’s extra educational needs his behaviour in class will also cause difficulties for his future teachers and those who will be working with him. Already Wayne ‘is very lively and chatty and constantly on the go. He is difficult to check, has a poor concentration span and will not stick with any task for more than a few minutes. He likes a lot of attention and regularly gets involved in fights with other children, both inside and outside the classroom’.(Case Study) Wayne’s behaviour indicates he will be difficult to keep focused, that he may be a disruption to his peers and teacher and that he may also cause/be involved in cases of aggression.
There are currently a number of programmes which Wayne and his family can avail of which potentially would be of benefit to them. As Wayne is in a DEIS Urban Band 1 school under the SSP. There is the Home School Community Liaison scheme which can help build a stronger relationship between Wayne’s family and school life, a stronger relationship can build trust and partnership, identify areas of concern and draw up agreed targets for Wayne while taking into consideration factors outside of the classroom which may be impacting on Wayne.
There is a Teachers Aide who can work with Wayne to reduce the negative impact his behaviour is having on his educational attainment. It is intended that Wayne will be referred to the Teachers Aide unless he demonstrates significant improvement in the near future.
In relation to Literacy and numeracy development there are currently a number of programmes within the school which Wayne would benefit from. Wayne is already partaking in the ‘First Steps’ programme. This is a classroom based programme focused on literacy development. All members of Senior Infants are working with this programme. The children are also working with the Jolly Phonics programme, however Wayne’s high levels of absenteeism has left him struggling and behind his peers with some of the letters and material covered. As I have previously mentioned there is currently a paired reading programme in place in the school, I believe Wayne would be a suitable candidate who may derive academic benefits from this. ‘Reading Recovery’ is an international literacy programme which is in place in this school. If Wayne is to participate in this early intervention literacy programme he will be removed from the class to work one on one with a teacher intensively. This is a very structured programme which is aimed at meeting specific literacy targets appropriate to the individuals partaking in it.
There are also a number of numeracy programmes which could be of benefit to Wayne. ‘Ready, Set Go-Maths’ an infant programme which aims to teach numeracy and spatial concepts to children is currently being introduced to the school and will be provided for Wayne’s class group in the near future. ‘Maths Recovery’ is a programme similar to ‘Reading Recovery’, it is also a separate small group teaching away from rest of class tailored to meet Wayne’s and other members of group needs and this is also an option for Wayne.
It would be important that every reasonable effort is made to improve Wayne’s current academic abilities as unfortunately research indicates that ‘childrens literacy development declines as they progress through primary schools, particularly in disadvantaged schools’ (Kennedy 2009).
When Wayne progresses into second level education there are a number of programmes in place which will allow Wayne options and different avenues wherein he will be provided with the opportunities to develop his education. He can choose to do the Junior Certificate where he has the option of completing this exam at three different levels in English, Irish and Mathematics. The Junior Certificate School Programme may also be available and Wayne may have the option of completing a reduced number of subjects. This would be an ideal programme for Wayne as it has been identified as being a useful programme for children who have literacy/numeracy difficulties and a history of high absenteeism. Within this course there is the literacy and numeracy programme which could be tailored to suit the academic needs Wayne may have in the future. Within this programme there are also a number of beneficial initiatives such as Reading Challenges, Reading Corners, Paired Maths Initiative and Maths Laboratory.
Wayne may then choose to progress and complete the Leaving certificate or more likely he might complete the Leaving Certificate Applied programme if he stays on in school. This is a two year Programme which helps to retain pupils who, if they had no alternative to the Leaving Certificate may choose to drop out of school early. The Leaving Certificate Applied Programme is a separate course to the Leaving Certificate; its focus is on developing the skills of pupils for working life once they leave school.
There is also a programme called ‘Maths for Fun’. This is a programme run by the HSCL coordinator. This is a training programme which perhaps Wayne’s mother or maybe his grandmother might participate in, in the future. It would build a partnership between them and the school and it would also highlight the importance of developing educational skills and be a good role model for Wayne.
Outside of school there are a number of family support options which are available to Wayne and his family. Although it is not my area of expertise I am aware that the HSE provide different types of family support to families in similar situations to Wayne. These supports can include; therapeutic work, parental education programmes, home based parent and family support programmes, child development and educational development, youth work and community development. I suggest that Wayne’s mother contact the local health services that are available in her area.
To conclude Wayne’s situation incorporates many negative factors and worrying indicators which may lead him to obtaining a poor educational outcome ‘Children living in disadvantaged communities have nearly three times the rate of severe literacy difficulties to children living nationally’ (Elver et al. 2004). Wayne’s social/economic background and life experiences to date, coupled with his current behavioral tendencies, high absenteeism and poor literacy/numeracy skills all add up to Wayne being at high risk of obtaining a poor educational attainment and potentially leaving school early. However there is much that can be realistically achieved for Wayne, if current circumstances in Wayne’s life were to be altered and improved. It would be important that Wayne participate in some of the schemes which are outlined above as he progresses through school, schemes both inside and out of the school. It would be important too that Wayne avail of the services he is entitled to. If Wayne’s attendance improved as did his behaviour, and he availed of the services available to him in primary school I believe that Wayne would be able to transition to post primary education quite effectively. It is also my belief that if Wayne was to stay in school past sixteen years of age that the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme would be an extremely positive and enjoyable programme for Wayne to participate in. When he finishes this two year programme at the age of eighteen he could potentially be well equipped with the experience, literacy and social skills required to enter into the working world.
- ERC report Reading Literacy in Disadvantaged Primary Schools (October, 2004).http://www.galway.ie/en/Services/CommunityEnterpriseEconomicDevelopment/Inclusion/Reports/DEIS/TheFile,719,en.pdf
- Education Act 1998 http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/pdf/1998/en.act.1998.0051.pdf
- Moving Beyond Educational Disadvantage, Report of the Education Disadvantage Committee 2002-2005
- DEIS Action, Plan May2005. Delivering Equality of opportunity In Schools (2005) Department of Education and Science
- Success in Reading. Reading standards in Irish primary schools (2005) http://study.hiberniacollege.net/matl/2011/matl_edadi/lesson8/matl_edadi_l8_s2/player.html
- Elver et al. 2004
- Kennedy 2009 http://study.hiberniacollege.net/matl/2011/matl_edadi/lesson8/matl_edadi_l8_s2/player.html
- Educational Disadvantage in Ireland Kellaghan, T., Weir, S., O hUallachain, S., and Morgan, M. (1995) Dublin: Educational Research Centre, Chapters 3 and 4.
- The Home, School, Community Liaison scheme in Ireland from vision to best Practice. Written by the HSCL coordinators 2005-2006 (2006) Department of Education and Science http://matl.hiberniacollege.net/LinkClick.aspx?link=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sdpi.ie%2fSDPI_DEIS_Docs%2fHSCL%2520From%2520Vision%2520to%2520Best%2520Practice.pdf&tabid=557&mid=3949
- A REVIEW OF SCHOOL-BASED MEASURES AIMED AT ADDRESSING EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGE IN IRELAND Weir, S. & Archer, P. with the assistance of Flanagan, R. (2004) Educational Research Centre Dublin. http://www.erc.ie/documents/edc_evaluations.pdf?hcalgn
and thank you for the wonderful help of the principal of actac in helping me write these articles