Have you ever heard of a child breaking a limb only to have medical treatment declined by their parents/guardians because they didn’t want anyone to know the extent of the injuries? Of course not. There’d be a rush to the hospital and a cast applied within hours.
I’ve rarely, if ever, known of anyone to refuse medical care for their child. Religious choices aside, it is impossible to think of a time when medical treatment should ever be withheld or denied. In fact, child services might be called in to ensure an injured child is receiving proper care – if it ever was the case. We have seen this occasionally played out in the court system.
Yet, in our schools a parallel situation is happening year after year. Students are identified with academic or psychological needs which affect their education, emotional well being, and long term mental health only to have offers of support declined, ignored, or attacked.
Is there a stigma in the minds of some about an educational identification that is at the root of learners not getting the support that they need? Does access to Special Education support and resources fall into the optional only category at the peril and loss of our students? I wonder how education at all levels can change the perceptions around identifying students, their needs, and the importance that education plays in supporting them? Have you encountered this? I have.
Many who serve as SERTs/admin have worked alongside school staff to identify students at risk and proposed solid plans of action to help, only to have them abruptly halted/refused without consideration of the detriment it will have on the child. Thus leaving another learner unidentified and under-supported. How can we let students slip through the cracks based on the belief that they should be able to grow out of it or that there identification is perceived as a social shame or dirty secret? Why do people take exception to receiving support for exceptionalities?
A number of recent conversations with colleagues have all seemed to reflect on how some of our students still struggle. A common thread here being a reluctance to formally identify any academic or behavioural issues. To me it feels like put a bandaid on a compound fracture. As long as it’s kept covered up, it doesn’t exist despite the discomfort, quite convinced that it will get better on its own.
After 9 months of growth plans, ISTs, academic testing, IEPs, IPRCS, and countless meetings; many are working feverishly to support at risk learners for a successful start in September. Is there something else we can do? Are there any magic words that can convice a family that we are working hard to help their child succeed? I wonder how we can collectively share, support, and encourage one another in our practice and through professional conversations that will continue fighting for our students. If you have any stories and successful strategies to share please share them in the comments section below. Wishing you all of the best of life’s breaks.