This is the last instalment of our Q&A with SEN teacher, Melody Sung. With the hard bit done and the questions answered, Melody can now relax and add some other thoughts on the teaching profession. We also include some further help you can access if you need more support as a family.
What else should parents know about SEN teachers?
I would just like to make them aware of the continuous strain on teachers related to performance-related pay, and the pressures for teachers to ensure pupils are at the right attainment and progression levels – with no excuses for those with SEND or extra adult support in classes of 28+.
At times, I have felt like I’m being attacked for not doing well enough…nearly everyone has been to school, therefore everyone has an opinion – quite rightly so. But being criticised for not being perfect at everything all the time is soul destroying.
Parents are quite rightly protective of their children, have their own ideas on their development and want them to be supported to the best of our ability. However, criticism of the teaching profession always comes across as a personal judgement – for example, it is made to seem we are not doing something because we have chosen not to – it becomes personal. And that’s so hard.
My articles for My Family, Our Needs are purely based on my opinions and experiences only. I am in no way suggesting that what I have shared is the right way. Each school, school leadership team, SEND child, family and council are their own unique snowflakes. Please do not assume that you can lump them altogether and make a snowball. A poor metaphor I agree, but hey, I’m just a teacher!
SEND services outside of school
Regarding your SEND Local Offer, see what local activities, services and support groups are available to you outside of school. This can only be a good thing – for families to connect with others, for their children to develop their confidence, friendships and life skills. Some groups may offer free or subsidised drama or music groups, horse-riding tasters for those with SEND, youth clubs with the appropriate support, autism-friendly clubs or cinema screenings. Please make use of the services – before the council cuts the funding!
Parent Advocacy Groups
I have mentioned Parent Advocacy Groups in previous articles, I by no means recommend going straight to and using Parent Advocacy services as your first means of communication, if you have concerns over your child’s education.
However, if you feel as families that you have tried everything and getting nothing, then there are lots of services to help support you. You are not alone! Do not struggle through. Do not give up. You are your child’s voice and they have every right to be heard.
Also, parent advocacy groups can offer much more support than just challenging concerns, so you may find strength and support there, even if you don’t need assistance in advocating for your child.
Where can I go for more information about the role of a SEN teacher and how they should be supported?
Chapter 6 of the SEN Code of Practice sets out the responsibilities of schools with regards to SEN.
Section 19 of the Children and Families Act is also worth reading as it sets out the general principles that local authorities must have regard to when supporting disabled children and those with SEN in education. The Council for Disabled Children has an easy-to-digest guide to the Act here.
With thanks to Melody Sung for answering all our questions and being so honest. If you want to ask Melody anything, you can email MFON towers any questions you have and we will forward them on so that Melody can try and answer them firstname.lastname@example.org
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