IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Home-schooled special needs pupils need support’

Teachers’ union calls for allowance to cover extra costs to parents

22 January, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Valerie Bossman-Quarshie: ‘People are quick to say that the ones that are from working-class backgrounds will suffer the most but actually we wouldn’t if they gave us the right resources’

PARENTS of children with special needs struggling to home school during the pandemic are calling for more support.

Schools are open to children who are vulnerable and those of key workers but parents who are shielding and others who feel school is unsafe say they are struggling.

Some parents are calling for a new allowance to cover extra costs and learning resources while supporting children at home.

Valerie Bossman-Quarshie, an activist and parent, said: “I think parents of SEN children need a differentiated approach. People are quick to say that the ones that are from working-class backgrounds will suffer the most but actually we wouldn’t if they gave us the right resources – exercise books, pencils or reading books.”

She added: “A lot of white working-class boys and predominately a lot of black kids are not reading at the right age and I worry they are going to fall behind. That is what we really need to address – not just digital inequalities, but the educational inequalities.”

Since the lockdown was announced, all pupils in English schools have been asked to stay at home.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said for the past five years she has struggled to get an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) for her son who has severe language disorder. Her daughter was advised to shield and the family are working from home.

She said: “My son is bouncing off the walls because he has really complex needs. I’ve got my children sharing a room and it is hard with the lack of space. I have got a disability myself and it is a lot to bear.”

She added: “I thought there would be more support. There’s literally been no SEN support. I know it just boils down to resources.

“There are lessons uploaded online but even if there was someone to do one-on-one learning with my son remotely for an hour a day that would help ease the pressure for us at home.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have prioritised vulnerable children and children with special educational needs and disabilities throughout the pandemic.

“We know these are difficult times, and that’s why we’re addressing these issues urgently. Alternative provision and special schools remain open to vulnerable children and children of key workers, as with all schools. We are working closely with the sector and will publish guidance in due course.”

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