Special education is a term that describes non-mainstream schooling, usually in reference to an educational setting or provision unit for those with learning difficulties or disabilities. Parents with children with a special educational need may often ponder the benefits of a special education, especially in comparison to the idea of ‘inclusive’ learning, where children learn within the mainstream system. Today, we’re going to explore the benefits of a special education setting and why it might be the right choice for your child.
Specific benefits of a special education
Classroom settings tend to be smaller, with a better adult to child ratio. This facilitates more individualistic learning and focused attention, it helps control behavioural issues and improves self-esteem. A better staff to child ratio allows teachers to develop a better understanding of individual children, including what might motivate them, what makes them angry, what they enjoy and what they don’t enjoy learning. Being able to adapt learning on an individual basis will invariably have a positive effect on a child’s outcomes. Teaching can be better geared toward aiming for each child’s individual targets, rather than one-size-fits-all comprehension, maths or literacy targets.
Another major benefit is that children are working within a peer group who may have similar needs, this prevents a feeling of being different as is common for children with special educational needs learning within inclusive mainstream settings.
The staff at a special educational setting will also have more relevant and specific training, not to mention experience. This will mean that not only is their teaching style and delivery better suited to children with a learning disability or difficulty but that their staff’s understanding of pastoral care, facilitating independence, behavioural issues etc are also better suited. Teachers at special schools are able to use restraining techniques which they cannot use at a mainstream school, which can improve the safety of your own child and those around them.
Links with parents tend to be much better at a special school. This is because it’s more important that school and parents are consistent in, for example, behaviour management, but also because there are fewer parents and a higher parent to staff ratio, fostering close relationships.
What about specialist provisions?
Some schools, especially large ones, are able to provide additional learning and support through a specialist provision. This means that children can spend some of their time in a standard classroom setting but some of their time in a specialist provision, giving them the benefits of both special education and inclusive learning.
The benefits of getting the ‘right’ education
The most appropriate type of education has long-lasting benefits throughout a person’s life. It means greater independence and more chance of finding the right job. It can mean fewer chances of depression in later life and higher lifelong self-esteem.
As you can see, choosing a special education for your child can have an improved impact on their learning, as well as their whole life. It can be a more positive experience for you as a parent or guardian and provide better chances in life, despite meaning a more restricted academic curriculum.