Saturday 23 January 2021

Teachers can’t cope with special needs kids in mainstream schools: report


Three-quarters of primary school teachers say they have ‘great difficulty’ in helping children with behavioural issues or disabilities who have been taken out of special education and placed in mainstream schools.

In particular, teachers say they do not have the expertise or the time to help children requiring special care, a survey of 2,500 teachers by sector association Lerarencollectief said.

Almost 80% say their job has changed in the six years since the government began placing children with special needs and disabilities in mainstream schools in a bid to cut costs and bureaucracy.

At the time, some 4,000 children had no schooling because they did not fit into either the special education system or mainstream schools. However, the number of children still being taught at home has now risen to around 5,000.

Several earlier reports have also highlighted the difficulty of moving special needs children into mainstream schools.

‘Most teachers are negative because they experience how difficult, and sometimes impossible, it is to help children who need special care,’ Lerarencollectief board member Sharon Martens told the NRC.

‘Mixed classes are nice in theory but classes are too big and there is not enough expertise within schools to help these children. Sometimes teachers have four of five special needs children in a class, alongside 20 to 30 others who all need attention. It cannot be done.’

Nine in 10 teachers said smaller classes would help them to better integrate special needs pupils into their lessons.

Around 1.4 million children currently attend normal Dutch primary schools, while 100,000 go to different types of special school.

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