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What Am I

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Should primary children with learning disabilities be taught in mainstream education?
In the UK more and more parents are finding themselves having to put their children who have learning disabilities into mainstream education, mainly because One of the main reasons for this is that the government have not got enough money to fund specialist schools or to train teachers to specialise in this area to look after children who have these learning disabilities Also the ones we have The existing specialist schools are already full and almost at breaking point. More and more classes around the UK have at least one or two children with a learning disability, and people are beginning to think about the effect they have on the class, the teachers and the child.
A class in which there are pupils with learning disabilities can be seen as an advantage. This is because children haven’t got a clear understanding of differences and knowing one of their peers has a learning disability can help the pupils have an understanding of their fellow peer and their disability. It can help the child to tolerate and accept those with learning disabilities. This in time will spread into the child developing an understanding of not just learning disabilities but other differences that set their future peers and colleagues apart from them. It will develop the child’s empathy towards their peers and this is a vital life skill.
For a child with learning disabilities being in a mainstream class will also benefit them. If the child is kept apart in their education they will grow up believing that life in the future for them is the same and everything that they do will be tailored to their abilities. However, having the child in a more diverse environment will help them be more prepared for life outside of a classroom. It pushes the boundaries of the child and because everyone is at different levels, it will motivate the child to work harder. Because the child with learning disabilities is part of a mainstream classroom they will learn how act in situations in which there are people without learning disabilities, thus preparing them for life in work and social environments.
It is a positive thing to have a class with pupils with learning disabilities in them is that the pupils with the learning disability will feel included and part of a group. If a child with a learning disability is in an isolated classroom and is seeing other pupils doing things they can’t they will feel a sense of isolation and therefore feel that they are not part of anything. This will then lead on to the child becoming bored in class and in time have a bad attitude to learning and education which unfortunately in the future will affect the young person’s work ethic. On the other hand if the child is part of a mainstream classroom they will feel part of a group and will this will show in their mood and attitudes to learning. This will have a positive knock on affect as it allows the child to see learning and education as a good thing which in time will help them in their jobs and workplaces.
Having children with learning disabilities in mainstream education can be an advantage to the school. If the school just started with one child the resources in the school would be unsatisfactory as they have never had to accommodate for a child with a learning disability. Furthermore if the school began to have more children that needed special educational need (SEN) they would have to become more accommodating therefore in time would be able to welcome and look after more children.
However having children with learning disabilities in mainstream education can be seen as being a disadvantage.
Teachers are not trained to teach children with severe learning disabilities. In special education classrooms teachers are specially trained for working with a range of different learning disabilities therefore are able to handle situations with children with learning disabilities and have the ability to tailor the way the teach to every individual pupil they have. However in mainstream education the teachers have not been any types of training and therefore they are not able to work with the child efficiently and with the proper conduct. In a recent survey conducted by Mencap, a specialist organisation in learning disabilities a parent says “Mainstream teachers are not being given the training they need”. This can become detrimental to the child as they may need help or want to put their point across and because the teacher does not know what to do they may end making the child upset or uncomfortable. In a report the chief executive of Mencap says that “Parents feel the education service is woefully ill prepared to properly support children with a learning disability to reach their full potential.” This shows that parents who have children with learning disabilities in mainstream education feel that because of the teachers and education system their children are being held back and are not able to show what they are really capable of.
Another disadvantage to having children with learning disabilities in a mainstream class is that the class sizes are too big. To effectively work with a child with a learning disability you would ideally have a class of around ten however normal mainstream classes have over twenty five pupils in them. This is problematic as some disabilities need one to one attention and because the class size is so big the teacher would not be able to give the focus all their attention to one child when they have another twenty four to look after.
Having the child in mainstream education can also be a disadvantage to them as they are in an environment where children are doing better in class than the child with the learning disability. The other children are also moving at a faster pace. Because he or she is slower and isn’t catching up they would feel “stupid” and they will think that they are not good enough to be part of the class. This will knock their confidence in class and also cause the child to misbehave as a consequence of not doing as well as the class. This on the other hand does not just affect the child with the learning disability as it will also have an effect on the rest of the class. If a class activity has been made easier to understand and easier to follow for the child with the learning disability, the children who are more capable begin to become restless and in time will misbehave as they believe there is no reason to listen or pay attention as they already know what they have to do. EXPAND, LONG TERM EFFECT
Many children are being left out of activities because of their disability and this is unfair on the child. Many of the activities are shaped to be beneficial in both academic and non-academic ways and taking the child out of these activities deprives the child of a well-rounded and complete education. Many parents are beginning to see the effect of this and some in a survey it says that over 60 per cent of parents are saying that their child has been taken out of class activities because of their disability.” This is becoming a major problem for those children as it gives them no experience in these activities and if they are apparent in later it is less likely they are going to in them.
Overall there are a number of learning disabilities and we know that there is a wide spectrum of them, ranging from mild ones like dyslexia which is prevalent in nearly every school to very rare and severe ones like Down syndrome and severe autism which are not very common in mainstream education. Having children in mainstream education is not a bad or good thing. Sometimes is may be beneficial as it will help the child with and without learning disabilities, but on the other hand it may be a disadvantage as it could single out the child and affect their education.

Bibliography http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/pupils-with-special-needs-are-being-failed-by-mainstream-schools-says-mencap-9923366.html http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13080814.Special_needs_shake_up_call/
http://www.independent.ie/life/family/learning/being-educated-in-mainstream-school-hugely-benefits-children-with-special-needs-30516620.html

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