Child with special needs doesnt get special treatment
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of education watchdog Ofsted, says teachers’ pay should be linked to their willingness to ‘go the extra mile’, ie those who put in more hours. Surprise, surprise, teaching unions are up in arms. Maybe because he has hit a raw nerve. Who else in the country gets 40k for a 39 week year? That’s £1000 a week folks. This is my experience this year of teachers who refuse to go the extra mile.
My daughter Kateri , 5, was born in Africa where she was diagnosed with glue ear at around 18 months. I brought her over here when she was two and she received treatment which resulted in a fresh diagnosis that resulted in the unsettling verdict that she was in fact deaf. The bit not working is a part called the cochlear but the good news was that an implant operation could replace this missing part. That was the start of a long road involving numerous trips to the cochlear centre in Manchester and a six hour operation.
Kate wears a device which looks like a sophisticated hearing aid. It isn’t as simple as switching it on though. She had to learn to listen and what sound is. It took many months before there was any indication she was reacting to sound. Now, almost two years after the operation, her hearing is excellent, she can tell you when the phone rings and loves dancing to music.
But this isn’t the end of the story, it’s just the beginning. Although Kate does some signing the idea of hearing comes hand in hand with being able to communicate though speech. This is proving extremely challenging even though she attends the only Wirral school with a hearing base which is luckily just a few miles away. At the moment her vocabulary is extremely limited although her vocal range is pretty wide.
Aside from teachers and assistants at school, she is also supported by the department in Wirral which employs teachers of the deaf (ToD).
This is what I call NOT going the extra mile. In May her annual review was held at school, attended by the head of departments for Wirrals’ teachers’ of the deaf, one of the teachers and of course the school teachers and head. At Kate’s age, development is critical as all these people are aware, so I broached the subject of help or therapy during the long summer holiday period and arrangements for childcare and how they would help. An uncomfortable silence. It seems that ToDs, although not based in schools, enjoy the same holiday entitlement. Is no one willing to go to the holiday club for an hour a week, I ventured? Er, no. So, you are all spending six weeks on a beach somewhere? Shuffling of feet. Then the Bossman piped up, maybe we can find a volunteer. Great.
I emailed Bossman’s department and gave him details of the holiday club Kate would be attending as his department would need to liaise with staff over her special needs. As the holidays approached I spoke to the school club who said there had been no contact from Bossman’s department. I queried this and he emailed out to various people that I hadn’t informed them of arrangements – I was able to send out the relevant email that demonstrated I was not the liar he was making me out to be.
The upshot of all this, apart from taking Kate to speech therapy sessions in Manchester, she had no contact or support whatsoever and there was a notable dip in her development. Of course this happens every few weeks when they enjoy elongated holidays.
I would be delighted to see anyone in Wirral ‘going the extra mile’. I won’t be holding my breath though.