Addressing Wayne’s Educational Needs
Wayne is a six year old boy in Senior Infants in an Urban Band 1 primary school. Wayne’s educational needs are of concern due to his current academic levels in numeracy and literacy, his behaviour in school, his behaviour with his peers, his attendance and his non school circumstances. The school, his teacher and the teachers assistant have been made aware of Wayne’s home school situation. To summarise Wayne’s primary carer is his mother, she is a 24 year old single mother, long term unemployed who is receiving heroin addiction treatment. He has a half sister who is two years old. This report outlines appropriate legislation and reports which could be taken into consideration when trying to improve Wayne’s long term educational needs. It outlines Wayne’s current school needs and the education support I; his teacher and the teachers aide can offer him and his mother. It identifies Wayne’s level of disadvantage and the impact this could have on his educational attainment. It also examines current programmes/interventions which are available and may be beneficial to Wayne.
Wayne’s long term educational achievements are of concern due to indicators he has displayed to date and his out of school circumstances and the presence of multiple risk factors. Sociological theories have long since drawn the correlation between the economic habitat of the student and their relevant educational attainment, i.e. students living in economically disadvantaged area are more likely to experience multiple risk factors which ultimately affect their educational attainment. The ERC report states ‘that the proportion of pupils with serious literacy difficulties in schools serving disadvantaged communities averages in the region of 27-30% and research has shown that those with low levels of attainment in literacy are significantly more likely to experience educational failure and to leave the education support system without qualifications.’ (Reading Literacy in Disadvantaged Primary Schools: October, 2004.p35). This then increases the chances of this cycle repeating itself.
There are a number of reports made and legislation in place which should impact positively on Wayne’s long term educational outcomes. The Education Welfare Act 2000 was put in place to ensure that all children are entitled to at least the minimum education. Its main focus is on reducing absenteeism, and monitoring the attendance of children both in schools and in settings outside of school, where they are receiving an education, with education support. Under this legislation the NEWB (National Educational Welfare Framework) was set up as a support framework for parents and children to ensure that everyone has access to a good standard of education either in school or elsewhere. Wayne and his mother can avail of the services which the NEWB will provide throughout his school life. In turn this may reduce the number of days that Wayne is absent from school.
The Education Act 1998 outlined that the minister was to ‘establish a committee, hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘educational disadvantage committee’’, to advise him or her on policies and strategies to be adopted to identify and correct educational disadvantage. This committee will strive to identify and reduce educational disadvantage and ensure provision of resources for children who are “educationally disadvantaged” (Education Act 1998 p31). This committee will monitor the needs of pupils such as Wayne as they progress through the education system in our ever changing world and try to ensure that their needs can be met and their level of educational disadvantage reduced.
The report of the Educational Disadvantage Committee; ‘Moving Beyond Educational Disadvantage’ called for an emphasis not only on ‘equality of opportunity and equality of participation but equality of outcomes and equality of condition.’ It stressed that educational disadvantage will not be eliminated until poverty issues are addressed. ‘Issues that contribute to disadvantage – for example poverty, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, inadequate and sub-standard housing – must be tackled in parallel and in an integrated way.’ (Moving Beyond Educational Disadvantage, 2002-2005. p21).
It is important that issues such as this are highlighted for the minister and country. Schools cannot tackle the problem of educational disadvantage as a separate entity; research has indicated that this is not successful and teachers and teachers aides / teaching assistants find managing these bahavious increasingly difficult. Social and cultural influences/issues which impact educational disadvantage must be examined and aided to reduce the conditions which impact on educational disadvantage in the lives of children such as Wayne. Reports are crucial at highlighting issues such as this, in turn initiating stating points for areas that, with aid and development may have a more positive effect on educational outcomes of children within these communities.
The DEIS action plan should also be referenced when examining documentation which may impact Wayne’s long-term educational outcomes. DEIS has put in place support measures for family literacy, literacy and numeracy and early childhood education. DEIS also focuses on addressing the education needs of children from disadvantaged communities, from pre-school through to post primary education. It is programmes such as this than can help maintain progress which has been made at tackling educational disadvantage. It can also aid the prevention of fade off effects from previous intervention measures, for children such as Wayne as they progress through the education system. Initiatives such as this ensure that programmes in primary and post-primary already in place are monitored and programmes that are successful are aided and developed, recently ‘positive findings found that the demonstration Library Project will be extended’ (DEIS Action Plan). The DEIS action plan also focuses on ‘the needs of senior-cycle students, particularly Leaving Certificate Applied students, in respect of more advanced literacy and numeracy supports, will be examined as part of an ongoing NCCA review of senior cycle second-level education.’(DEIS Action Plan p39) Initiatives such as this may be a positive influence on Wayne’s educational needs as he progresses through school and may encourage him to stay in school.
Wayne’s immediate problems that I have witnessed within the classroom are both academic and social. Academically his literacy skills are below average; his rate of progression is also behind that of his peers. His numeracy skills are also below average. I would be interested in having a meeting with his mother so that we could work together on these issues and draw up mutual targets for Wayne. I would recommend that Wayne would avail of academic services which are available to him. Currently there are a number of other children in this class with learning/behavioral problems. Some of these children attend a resource teacher for extra reading in small groups and twice a week for mathematical support. There is also a Paired Reading Programme in place in the school. I believe Wayne would benefit from these activities. I would also recommend that Wayne be assessed by the Learning Support teacher to identify what areas are of difficulty to him. Wayne may then join the Maths Recovery group and participate in the individual Reading Recovery programme already in place in the school.
Wayne’s behaviour is a concern, in class Wayne is lively and difficult to keep on task; this is having a severe knock on effect on his academic progress. Wayne also regularly starts fights with other children both inside and outside of the classroom. I have recently suggested to Wayne’s mother that she seek an assessment for Wayne in the local child’s guidance clinic. Wayne may have ADHD and a diagnosis would entitle him to additional resources. ADHD can impair a child’s ability to function socially, academically, and at home, if Wayne was diagnosed with this and it was treated properly Wayne would have a much easier time functioning in school and at home. The learning support teacher (teachers aide) currently has a social group which meets for forty minutes a week, this is a small group which focuses on using appropriate behaviour, dealing with feelings and developing social skills. It is cirtical that the teaching assistants continue to develop there skills through appropriate teachers aide courses and integration aide training. Wayne should benefit from becoming part of this group. I am always willing to meet with Wayne’s mother to help or offer guidance.
Wayne’s attendance is of major concern; Wayne was absent twenty five days during his previous year of school and he has also missed a number of days so far this year. This level of absenteeism is having a negative effect academically. Wayne is missing out on numerous academic segments and the learning of skills which he will need as a foundation for his subsequent years in school. Wayne needs to have a much higher attendance rate this year if he is to improve academically. Wayne’s absenteeism is also a detriment to him socially. The lack of routine leaves him finding it difficult to work within the school routine and focus in class when he returns. If Wayne’s attendance and routine could become more stable and frequent I believe it would have a positive effect on his academic and behavioral issues in school. Wayne’s mother can also avail of the home school community liaison officer is she is willing. This service can provide support for both her and Wayne.
Whilst this article is for mature students it provides a great insight in to the research currently being undertaken