Ronald Gulliford and Graham Upton say that special educational needs (SEN) came in use as a result of dissatisfaction: The term special educational needs began to come into use in the late 1960s as a result of increasing dissatisfaction with the terminology used in the Handicapped Pupils and School Health Service Regulations (1945), which classified handicapped children into ten categories according to their main handicap. (Gulliford and Upton, 1992).
The definition of SEN in the Education Act 1996 is: ‘a child has special educational needs…………….if he has a learning difficulty which a medical condition does not necessarily imply a ‘difficulty in learning’ or a ‘disability’ and therefore may not constitute a learning difficulty requiring special educational provision’. Tomko (1996) defined inclusion in education as ‘ the act of attending regular education classes, with the supports and services needed to successfully achieve the individual’s IEP goals, while actively participating in activities as a member of the class who belongs’.
The writer believes inclusion is a desired state to be achieved, that may or may not occur by simple placement alone. It is an ongoing process. I believe that unless a child has sense of identity with the class, and unless he or she has the supports and services needed and is reaching his or her IEP goals then inclusion has not been achieved. 2. 0 AREA CHOSEN The writer is currently working at School X, a school in Malaysia and she finds that an element of provision that possesses a barrier to the learning and participation of some students in the school is teaching assistant.
The barrier that is faced by School X in connection with teaching assistant to support SEN students is teaching assistant in School X do not clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. Thus, will they to be able to play their roles and responsibilities towards SEN students? Besides that, teaching assistant in school X do not have the necessary knowledge and skills in identifying and handling with Special Educational Needs students. Thus, will the teaching assistant(TA) be able to handle emergency cases involving SEN students or will the TA cause a worse situation which may lead to the SEN student being injured or harmed.
The writer chose teaching assistant as an element of provision that possesses a barrier to support SEN and Inclusive education in her school because she personally feels that teaching assistant plays a vital role in dealing with students with SEND. Groom, B. and R. Rose supports the researcher’s statement that a teacher assistant (TA) plays an important role in supporting pupils with SEN: The role of the TA has undergone something of a transformation from the time when classroom assistants were seen as ‘an extra pair of hands’ in the classroom to the present day where they are perceived to have a more professional role.
(Groom, B. and R. Rose, 2005) 3. 0 RESEARCH The writer carried out a few informal interviews with the school staff and among the barriers listed to support SEN students in school X, she finds the barrier of a teacher assistant an interesting aspect to research on. The writer was a teacher assistant in school X for a year and she is keen to know how as a teacher assistant she could have assisted SEN students. Based on the writer’s observation and interview with the school staff, the writer found out that in school X there is no full-time teacher assistant in all reception and primary grades.
A school with SEN students requires at least one assistant teacher in all the reception and primary classrooms. The writer personally feels that it is essential for all the reception and primary level classrooms to have a full – time teacher assistant because it may affect a SEN student if there is a frequent change in the teacher assistant of a classroom. A SEN student may need to adapt to a new TA each time there is a change in the TA of the classroom and this may affect a SEN Child’s learning behaviour and attitude in classroom.
Thus, the writer strongly believes that in order to support SEN students, a full time teacher assistant is important. The teachingexpertise (no date) claims that teacher assistant ‘are often required to work with learners who have special educational needs, either individually or in small groups, and are used to help interpret the class material and ensure students stay focused during teaching sessions’ (teachingexpertise, no date). Thus, if there are no full-time TA in school X, then how is it possible for SEN students to have one to one assistants.
Besides that, based on a few informal interviews with teacher assistant in school X, the researcher identified that teacher assistant in school X does not clearly understand their roles and responsibilities towards SEN students. Thus, how are the TA in school X able to support SEN students when they are not briefed and explained on their duties and responsibilities? TA in school X also does not know how to identify and assess students with SEN, including gifted, talented and slow learners.
The writer questioned a few TA whether if there were able to exactly proof and identify a SEN student with no assumptions and the writer received a negative response for her question. TA’s in school X do not have the necessary knowledge and skills in handling with Special Educational Needs and Disability student. The TA’s in the school are neither receiving any special educational needs training so that they can augment the classroom teacher in inclusive education. In addition, TA’s are not provided with institutional support to become more effective in practising inclusive education.
According to Adults Supporting Pupils with SEN, teacher assistant will have some typical duties: • Maintaining an up to date file on individual pupil(s) • In high schools, ensuring that individual education plans (IEP’s) are circulated/brought to the attention of subject/form tutors • Contributing to group/individual education plans from knowledge of the child’s/young person’s progress • Helping to gain the child’s/young person’s view of the IEP • Collating relevant information from any other assistants who work with that pupil • Contributing to the Annual Review process.
• Attending the Annual Review meeting • Involvement in target setting for the pupil in line with the aims of the IEP. (Adults Supporting Pupils with SEN, 2004) TA’s in school X are not provided with any policy on their duties and responsibilities in supporting SEN students. Thus after much research, the writer feels that school X should have a policy on TA’s role in Supporting SEN and Disability. 4. 0 CONCLUSION School X provides the teacher trainees with continuous professional developments (CPD’s) training once a week.
The topic discussed during CPD’s are usually on how to make a more effective IB environment classroom, teaching strategies and approaches and International Baccalaureate (IB) related topics. According to teaching expertise, ‘CPD is strategically focused and integrated with performance management and school improvement, to raise standards of teaching and learning’. Thus, it would be better if SEN and Inclusion is discussed during CPD’s, so that teacher assistant can become more effective in practising inclusive education.
Besides that, TA’s should be equipped with the knowledge and skills in handling with Special Educational Needs and Disability students. A TA should be provided with sufficient guidance on how to identify students with SEND, including gifted, talented and slow learners. School X should take full responsibility of providing TA’s employed with sufficient knowledge on SEN and Inclusion before placing them in a classroom. School X should also employ full time teacher assistant not only for the creche and reception but also for the primary grades in order to support SEN students.
The writer believes that if School X was to look into the aspect of teacher assistant and provides the entire teacher assistant with the training on SEN and Inclusion, TA would not be a barrier to the learning and participant of SEN students in the school. PART 2 TITLE Part 2 – Critical Reflection A critical reflection on the barrier(s) to learning and provision identified in Part 1. This should explore the strengths and weaknesses of a particular aspect of provision and an analysis of its implications for practice both at institutional and individual levels.
This will be informed by literature (research, legislation, policy documentation) and your own evidence. 1. 0 INTRODUCTION The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2001) published by the Department for Education states that ‘children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational needs provision to be made for them’. The writer strongly supports the statement as she personally feels a child should not be labeled as a Special Educational Need (SEN) student if he or she does not have a learning difficulty which a SEN term needs to be named for them.
Teacher assistants (TA) are supporters of a class teacher or homeroom teacher who ‘works under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction’ (BLS, 2012). A TA plays several roles in an institution: • Provide extra assistance to students with special needs, such as non-English-speaking students or those with physical and mental disabilities. • Supervise students in classrooms, halls, cafeterias, school yards, and gymnasiums, or on field trips. • Tutor and assist children individually or in small groups to help them master assignments and to reinforce learning concepts presented by teachers.
• Enforce administration policies and rules governing students. • Discuss assigned duties with classroom teachers to coordinate instructional efforts. • Instruct and monitor students in the use and care of equipment and materials to prevent injuries and damage. • Observe students’ performance, and record relevant data to assess progress. • Present subject matter to students under the direction and guidance of teachers, using lectures, discussions, or supervised role-playing methods. • Prepare lesson materials, bulletin board displays, exhibits, equipment, and demonstrations.
• Organize and supervise games and other recreational activities to promote physical, mental, and social development (BLS, 2012) The writer agrees to the tasks of a teacher assistant as stated in (BLS, 2012), teacher assistant should be able to provide support and help to a student who is categorized as SEN. Thus, a school with SEN students will need teacher assistant in order to support the classroom teacher and the student. The writer is currently teaching Visual Arts for Grade 1 students and on her free periods she assists and observes Reception students at School X, a school in Malaysia.
Based on the writer’s observation throughout her experience working in School X, she finds teaching assistant as an element of provision that possesses a barrier to the learning and participation of some students Teaching assistant is a barrier in school X because there are lack of teaching assistant to support SEN students. Teaching assistant who are present in school does not clearly understand the roles and responsibilities that they play for the school, teachers and students. Thus, teaching assistant in school X is unable to play their roles towards SEN students.
In addition, teaching assistant in school X does not have the necessary skills and knowledge in identifying and handling SEN students. Thus, how are they going to be able to identify or classify a student as SEN student, gifted or talented student? A wrong assumption on a student can lead to a great impact on his education. The writer chose teaching assistant as the barrier lacking in school X to support SEN students because she is very much keen to know how she as a teaching assistant can support and assist SEN students. 2. 0 STRENGTHS OF HAVING TEACHER ASSISTANT IN SUPPORTING SEN LEARNERS
The writer was a TA in school X for more than a year and based on her observation her beliefs that there are several strengths in having a teaching assistant to support SEN learners. First of all, a TA would be a great aid in one to one guidance for SEN learners. A homeroom teacher will not be able to handle a classroom with SEN students all alone without support from additional staff. A TA plays the role to help the homeroom teacher in handling a group of students in the classroom while the homeroom teacher will handle the rest of the students.
SEN learners seek for a person whom they are comfortable with or could rely on to request or say a thing. A teacher will not remain in classroom for the whole schooling hours. An average of three to five teachers would enter a classroom per day. Thus, A TA will be the person that a SEN student would look forward for any help or assistance as a TA usually will spend more schooling hours with students compared to any teachers. Besides that, a teacher needs to have a detail observation of the steps or moves taken by a SEN student as every of their movement is meaningful.
It is impossible for a teacher to observe and record all the SEN learners’ progress by themselves. Thus, A TA will be needed to support the teacher and also observe students. A TA observation will provide a teacher with additional feedback on a SEN student progress. It would seem to follow from reports of teachers that assigning support staff to particular pupils, usually those with problems of learning, behaviour or attention, would give the pupils more individual attention and help them develop confidence and motivation in their work, good working habits and the willingness to finish off tasks (Blatchford et al., 2009a).
It is a sensible solution to have a teacher assistant in supporting SEN learners as the teacher can then attend to the rest of the class without interruption. This is a productive arrangement for teachers and seems also to be having a positive effect in terms of pupil engagement, classroom control, and measures of confidence, motivation, independence, and good relationships with other pupils (Blatchford et al. , 2009a). 3. 0 WEAKNESSES OF HAVING TEACHER ASSISTANT IN SUPPORTING SEN LEARNERS The writer belief’s that having a TA in the classroom does have its weaknesses too.
The writer’s belief is supported by TeachingTimes (No Date) where it states that a new report from the Institute of Education proofed those students from primary and secondary level whom receives supports from teaching assistant, show less progress than a student of the similar ability. Finn, Gerber, Farber, and Achilles (2000), on the basis of data from the often –cited Tennessee STAR project, found that there was no compensatory effect of having extra staff in larger (‘regular’) classes, a result similar to that of Reynolds and Muijs (2003).
Klassen (2001) found that students with SEN who were assigned additional support for literacy made less progress than their unsupported peers. Giangreco et al. , in a series of publications, have argued that overreliance on one-to-one paraprofessional supports leads to a wide range of detrimental effects on pupils (e. g. , Giangreco et al. , 2005) Schlapp et al. (2003) identify the benefits of classroom assistants more in terms of the range of learning experiences provided and effects on pupil motivation, confidence and self esteem, and found less effect on pupil progress.
On the other hand there is a well established concern that TAs can encourage dependency, e. g. , because they prioritise outcomes of activities rather than encouraging pupils to think for themselves (Moyles and Sushitsky, 1997).
There are also concerns that support staff can have negative effects on pupils’ learning identity, e. g. , in terms of interference with ownership and responsibility, separation from classmates (Giangreco et al. , 1997). ofsted (2004) suggest that TAs may be less likely to stress understanding and skills and ‘This was common reason why a significant number of pupils with SEN made too little progress, despite good teaching to the majority of the class (2004, p16).
4. 0 IMPLICATION OF HAVING TEACHING ASSISTANT AT INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL A TA does not only guide and assist SEN students in classroom or a teacher in reducing her workload, a TA also needs to play his or her roles and responsibilities towards the school. There are many tasks that a TA can play in an institute in order to aid the school staffs and support the development of the school.
On the other hand, the school should also clearly understand the roles and responsibilities that a TA can play in the school and not overload them with additional task where it results in a TA being unable to accomplish his or her task as a teaching assistant in the classroom. One of the tasks that a TA can do at institutional level is to help the school staffs in decorating and creating an environment in connection to an upcoming event or festival. The writer as a TA has supported the school by decorating the school for festival such as Chinese New Year and Deepavali.
The writer has also decorated the school for an environment of Celebration of Learning (COL). COL in school X means a celebration where its students oriented as parents are invited to view and observe students work and progress. The writer has decorated the school for exhibition purposes too where parents and invited guest are welcomed to the school. Besides that, the writer as a TA has helped the school in making events a successful one. The writer has come to school after working hours for special occasions in order to ensure the task allocated to her is completed.
Duties which she has done as a school staff in school X are gate duty and ushering parents to specified allocations on Parent’s Day. 5. 0 IMPLICATION OF HAVING TEACHING ASSISTANT AT INDIVIDUAL LEVEL The impact of having a teacher assistant at individual level is countless. There are good and bad of having a teacher assistant to support SEN learners. The good impact of having a teacher assistant at individual level is a SEN learner will be able to receive one to one attention and guidance from teaching assistant.
Thus, an individual will be able to progress at a faster rate and catch up to the pace of rest of the students in the classroom in a shorter period. The writer was assisting for a year in Grade 1 and based on her personal observation and some research, she and her homeroom teacher identified a SEN learner in the classroom. They did not label the child or exclude the child from participating in several activities conducted in the classroom as they did not want to classify the child into any terms.
The writer and the homeroom teacher believed that if they were to provide the child with additional guidance and support, they child would surely show progress and improvement. Additional guidance and support was provided by the writer as the homeroom teacher handled the rest of the students. The writer assisted the student by breaking down task given by the teachers into smaller instruction and instructing the child using a simple terms including more of body language for the student to understand the instruction.
The writer and the homeroom teacher succeeded in their hard work of making the student to progress as towards the end of the term, the child showed improvement in communication skills and writing skills. On the other hand, a teaching assistant can be harmful to a SEN learner if there are not filled with the essential knowledge and skills in identifying, assisting and guiding a SEN learner. Thus, to place a teaching assistant with insufficient knowledge on SEN would affect the academic progress and development of a SEN learner. 6. 0 CONCLUSION.
In a nutshell, teaching assistant has many roles and responsibilities to be played not only at individual level but also at institutional level. A teaching assistant should clearly understand their roles and responsibilities before playing their roles as a misunderstanding in their task would create a great impact to the school and also students. The writer feels that in supporting and assisting SEN learners, a teaching assistant’s main aim is to assist the SEN learner with the objective and aim of showing and proving a progressive development of a SEN learner and not focusing on the completion of task.
The writer as an individual who has experienced being a teaching assistant personally and strongly beliefs that a TA should not be misused and given additional task which results in TA being unable to fully do his or her roles and responsibilities towards the students. A TA’s main focus should be towards assisting students and not school work. The writer beliefs that if a TA is provided with all the necessary knowledge and skills n identifying SEN learners, a TA would be a great help in supporting, assisting and guiding SEN students towards the right path. BIBILIOGRAPHY A ND REFERENCING.
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