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Rights – Buttercups and daisies …

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

“And we are those little white dandelion heads that blow away in the wind.” It is with these words that Tracey, a pupil with cystic fibrosis, introduces the audience to new version of “Death of a Nightingale.”

Just what is the value of a right to mainstream education for children with special needs if they are then left in the hands of classroom assistants instead of trained teachers, and if they are bullied?

I quote here an article in the Times Educational Supplement by Kerra Maddern on 20 November 2009;

‘Teen bullying victims get two grades below the norm – Researchers claim first statistical correlation between abuse and levels of achievement.

Bullied teenagers attain significantly lower exam results than other children, according to a study that claims to prove a statistical correlation between abuse at school and educational achievement for the first time.

The GCSE results of children bullied at 14 and 15 are two grades lower and their total score is 13 fewer points, the government-backed report says. It also found victims of bullying were less likely to attend school full-time at 16, and that more became NEETs – (not in employment, education or training). The study The Characteristics of Bullying Victims in Schools claims it is the first in-depth investigation of the impact of the problem on GCSE age pupils. Researchers studied 10,000 children; the full findings are to be published in January. Almost half of the 14 year-olds who took part said they had been bullied; this figure fell to 41 per cent at 15 and 29 per cent at 16.The most common form of bullying at all ages was name-calling and cyber bullying, followed by being threatened with violence, social exclusion and being attacked. Bullies were most likely to target those with special educational needs, young carers, pupils with a disability and children in care. Girls were more likely than boys to be bullied at age 14 and 15, although gender became less important at 16. Previous studies have established that bullying victims have lower self-esteem and are at greater risk of suicide….”

It is of course quite possible that the lower attainment also correlates with the extra 100,000+ teacher assistants they suddenly realised they had to employ to help teachers in mainstream schools cope with the influx of children with special needs since closing 100 special schools.

The end result is, of course, the same. It matters not one iota whether lower attainment is due to bullying, the presence of teacher assistants or, most likely, a combination of both.