Kids with complex problems not getting enough help at school: Children's Ombudsman
Children who need extra help at school are generally satisfied with the help they get, but this changes once a child has complex needs, according to a survey that Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer did among 184 children aged 10 to 18 with special education needs, Trouw reports.
"They find the basic support in order. With only dyslexia, ADHD, being gifted, autism, a mood disorder, or a physical disability, schools know what to do. It becomes more difficult when several special needs occur at the same time," Kalverboer said. According to her, the survey showed that appropriate education for pupils with complex needs is stagnating.
The surveyed children often said that they wish their school had more knowledge about what exactly they need. They would like to be involved in this discussion, but also find it difficult to say where the problems lie. Children want their school to tell them what their options are, like one-on-one lessons, lessons outside of the classroom, or shorter school hours.
"A child just wants to be normal, just like all the other children. They will therefore not easily say they want something different from the rest," Kalverboer said. It is therefore up to the school to initiate this constructive conversation, she said.
Children with special needs in mainstream education are less positive about the help they receive, but more satisfied with their sense of security and being included, Kalverboer found.
She also noted that it is difficult for schools to determine when a child can stay in mainstream education, or when it is better for them to switch to special education. This decision is often made when the child involved needs so much extra attention that it negatively affects the learning climate for the rest of the class. This means that it is not easy for special education and mainstream education to work together in this.
Kalverboer thinks that moving mainstream- and special education under one roof will make it easier to find the best fit for a child, while also creating inclusive education where all children go to school together. "They really don't have to be all together in a class, but there are definitely subjects that you can do with all children. If you learn that it is very normal to interact with a variety of children at school, it also gives children with disabilities a sense of self-worth, belonging, respect and recognition in society."
Now that it's been five years since the first steps towards appropriate education were taken, the Children Ombudsman called for the government's next step to be towards inclusive education.
"Inclusion of education must be regulated if the Netherlands is to comply with the various international treaties that we signed," Kalverboer said. "Since the introduction of appropriate education in 2014, more children have enrolled in special education and the number of children who have not had education for more than three months has not decreased This concerns about 4 thousand children per year. The stagnation in the number of children sitting at home is a sign that we need to do more."
Part of this is giving teachers more and better training on teaching children with complex needs, she said.