Specialised ASN Teachers

I have become disappointed in how we have lost the skills of specially trained additional support needs teachers. In our cluster at least it seems that additional support needs teachers are the ones who could not cope in a classroom. This is completely the wrong fit as to teach children with additional support needs you need to be even more skilled and enthusiastic! 

My son is was in a primary 1/2 class last year and because he was the most able of a poor lot he didn't get any support, he was quiet and could get on with a task so he was left to do it. At the beginning of this year he had a reading age of 5 years and 10 months and a spelling age of 5 years 3 months! The ASN teacher didn't pick this up as being a problem... even though his maths age was 7 years 11 months! He is just 7 years 7 months now! 

If it had not been for the fact that I worked in school I would have never known this! He has a different teacher now who seems to be able to push him on more... however I have to do a lot of extra reading and spelling work with him at home... now are we getting it right for my son??? Yes.... but only because I am in a position to support and help him, but this can't be said for all of the children. What is the point of ASN staff doing the tests with the children if they don't know what to do with the results... yes there are children who are less able than my son... but the fact there was/is such a big gap between my son's maths/practical and spoken abilities and his reading and spelling ability clearly indicates a specific decoding and encoding difficulty that the ASN teacher ignored! 

It is my opinion also that this particular teacher is unmotivated and lazy... there is no value added to her presence in school! In our school this year we have 4 classes instead of three allowing us to have smaller classes, he is in a class of 19 instead of 23 ... which makes a difference as the teacher can support more... however next year it is quite possible he will be in a class of 25... In a multicomposite class and he will be in the middle year group with less able children he will once again be the best of a less able group not getting the support he deserves, even though he obviously has a specific difficulty rather than developmentally immature. 

I am a teacher of a very challenging class in the same school... I had 25 children in a multi composite class last year... it was very difficult as there were so many needs and very little adult support. More able children were between 1 and 2 years behind due to the fact that all adult attention in class was used to manage behaviour... behaviour which had developed due to too many children with needs and not enough adult support. 

This year I have the same children but in a composite class rather than multi composite class and there are 15 children in the class rather than 25! The environment has more space and I have more time to spend with each child/group... the children have all improved not only their behaviour but they are now all working at appropriate age levels on the curriculum with some working on 3rd level maths.

are smaller class sizes the answer... rather than ASN teachers/psa's. 

Visiting specialists... what value do they bring to school? In our school we have an excellent PE teacher who turns up every week, is aware of the needs of the classes and meets the needs of his pupils. We have a music and French specialist neither of which have a good attendance record both of which teach lessons off of YouTube all of which I could do and could do better! Now apart from the fact that they unsettle the children and do not meet the needs of all the children which results in them becoming anxious and behaving badly.., because of their poor attendance my head teacher needs to book supply teachers in order for her staff to get their mcronne entitlement... obviously costing the authority money and unsettling the class as another teacher is taking them.... 

if smaller class sizes are the answer to getting it right for each child... could money not be saved by finding a more suitable position for the visiting specialists that are obviously unfit for the job and ploughing more money into getting more quality teachers in the classroom! 

Training - need to look at teaching qualification the nqt's that are coming out and students we are getting are nowhere near ready to be in charge of a class. When I did my training by the end of 1st year I had to take a class on my own, 2nd year 5 days continuous on my own, 3rd year 3 weeks continuous on my own and in 4th year 6 weeks continuous on my own... each year was split into half the year on placement in a school and half the year in lectures and classes that were specifically designed to develop teaching skills and knowledge! My college day was 9-3 every day.. sometimes an hour off in the middle but then classes went on to 5! This was for 5 days a week! Our student who is in 3rd year has hardly been in schools and has never taught on her own and has just observed or taken small groups! Her total uni hrs equate to 12 hrs a week! We had to do a module on additional support needs with an option to do additional placement in a special school... as yet our third year student has not learnt about additional support needs! The course needs to be looked at and redesigned! 

Why the contribution is important

All of my ideas are important because... without the proper knowledge and training at class teaching level and specialist ASN staff level then children with additional

support needs develop anxieties... when this happens inappropriate behaviour escalates and then the whole class suffers.

smaller class sizes are important because not only does it provide an environment that is more open and less distracting... it allows the class teacher to spend more time with individuals and smaller groups. It allows the teacher to give anxious pupils the support they need by ensuring they know that they will be to help soon and giving them strategies that will allow them to move on until support comes. It spreads the needs out! 

by Lynnie0805 on November 28, 2016 at 08:51PM

Current Rating

Average score : 4.6
Based on : 5 votes


  • Posted by Dom December 03, 2016 at 16:57

    Smaller class sizes -YES! My daughters class has 28 pupils, working at different levels and including special needs children too. Is this not too much pressure on one teacher???
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