Substance or Surface?
Naturally, one does everything one can for all children, particularly those with needs, but it is easy to respond to reports, to follow protocols that have already been developed, to watch for the signs that people are aware of, to notice the stereotypical behaviours and respond appropriately, or in a manner one considers appropriate. It is easy to limit imagination, to say one is ticking the boxes, even if parents are concerned – they are parents, sometimes they worry too much, we’ve done our courses/a course, we know how to do our jobs.
But what happens if their needs are different to what one expects, if one is not as up to date as one thinks?
Schools can point out that they do communicate with parents, send letters home, keep parents updated with a newsletter, have the required school policies.They may say that they do have official parent teacher meetings, which are planned months in advance, everyone has ten minutes once a year, arrangements can be made, parents can write in and make an official appointment and the school can decide if a meeting needs to take place.
If parents sense something, or indeed, if they know certain things need to be done but feel they will not be heard, feel they have to jump through hoops they are just too stretched to jump through, what then? Will they bother to make contact?
What happens if these children leave school without the skills required to to engage with others, develop friendships, to achieve their potential and to cope with the fiagaries of life, particularly if they have neurological differences such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD or one of the many shades of Autism/Aspergers, what then?
Will you measure your school’s success by how well the bright children do or how kind the children who are naturally kind are?
Will you measure your success by surface things, by how well you manage needs of children whose differences are clear, are well-understood and who have supports from the Department and other long established groups?
Or, will you measure your success by how well you pay attention, how you balance the needs of all without compromising on one’s commitment to excellence and your sanity and that of you teachers, SNAs and ancillary staff?
Will you measure it on how easily the children with poor social skills develop friendships with their peers, on how easily their peers include them and accept them as equals, one of their own?
Will you measure your success on timing, on boxes ticked, on how efficiently everything seems to be run, or will you measure it on those thing that are harder to account for – teacher satisfaction, happy, well-balanced children, positive relationships and parents who know their children are in good hands?