Painful Cuts

Modern education is stressful enough for “normal” kids, but even harder for special needs pupils. We always knew it would be difficult having to deal with one autistic child in the educational system, but that was before Daniel was also diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Their time in the educational system comes at a time where Local Authorities and individual schools are under increasing pressure to implement damaging cuts by an uncaring government. Matthew and Daniel need additional support on a daily basis, but cuts to education spending is making in increasingly difficult for the boys’ school to be able to provide that support.

Its disguised as their needs being met without additional support, but both of them are “typically” autistic, and won’t volunteer information so how would anyone know they need support. Its to the boys’ credit that they are progressing as well as they are really. Matthew has been the victim of bullying this session, which is going unnoticed because he won’t – or can’t – speak up. The lack of support – particularly in the classroom – is getting to him. Its gone as far as him being kneed in the face in the classroom, losing a (wobbly) tooth. Needless to say this wasn’t noticed by the teacher!

They are both having a hard time, with Daniel, who was so looking forward to school, staring to say he doesn’t want to go in the morning. They are so vulnerable, and need the support being denied them. This is the real effect of spending cuts being imposed by a heartless and dogmatic government. They are so slavishly following the deficit reduction mantra, that they have completely lost sight of the human cost. People don’t matter, just the markets, and the almighty deficit. The result? The most vulnerable who are most in need of support aren’t getting it. Not only is this having a direct impact on those with special needs, but it is having an indirect effect to others in the class when a teacher either can’t cope with special needs kids, or has to devote so much time to fire fighting that the class as a whole suffer.

Cuts to classroom support really is false economy. It benefits all if classroom support and SEN teachers are involved in providing support to the teacher in and out of the class. The special needs children get the one-on-one support so vital to building their confidence and self esteem in the class setting, and the pressure is taken off the teacher with the special needs kids becoming becalmed and less of a disruptive influence.

Cuts aren’t all about slashing welfare. The middle classes may have seen headlines about cuts to Housing Benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Council Tax Benefits etc, and thought they’d not affect them. Well, they are now. Cuts to classroom support is affecting their children too and any country who fails their children in this way needs a really good look at itself. Critics of the government’s austerity programme call for it to be stopped, or reversed, to let the economy recover. That’s vital of course, because people need jobs, which will reduce the impact on the welfare state, and help grown tax revenue. But they need to be stopped so children in need in the classroom get the vital support they need to allow them to flourish and to give them every chance they need to realise their potential.