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VIEWS & OPINION


VIEWS & OPINIO N


Money in the budget for teacher training runs the risk of bein g a false economy


Comment by NAIMISH GOHIL, CEO, Satche l


It was great to see investment in teacher training being made in this year’s budget – which promised a £40 million teacher training fund for under-performing schools in England, £406 million in maths and technical education and a number of other fillips.


And while I’m reluctant to play down any good news in a sector that is infrequently rife with it, teacher training is not the main issue at stake: we train umpteen teachers every year as a country; getting them qualified isn’t the problem: keeping them is, in the face of rising teacher workloads; shifting regulatory goalposts and soaring student mental health issues. Some 35,000 teachers left the profession for reasons other than retirement last year alone. Teacher retention is, in my eyes, a bigger challenge than teacher training. I was a teacher once: I know, on a very personal level, how tough it is .


As the proud CEO and founder of one of the country’s fastest growing ed-tech companies, it would be naive to pretend my perspe coloured by the work we do, but the


company ctive isn’t


was born out of many of the lessons I learned whilst working in school – and these are: Teachers spend too little time teaching and too much time doing the time-consuming administration on either side of a lesson. The technology that they do have in place is often out-of-date and unintuitive, while tracking shifting homework policy requirements could often make a grown man or woman weep. That’s one of the reasons that I came up with the idea of my company’s software, ShowMy Homework: with the aim of driving simple time- saving, workload-reducing results. It provides complete transparency with all homework details and deadlines accessible on schools’ public calendars, alongside the abilit y for pupils


to submit homework online and teachers to rapidly provide grades and comments from an array of platforms.


Many schools are still lagging on ed-tech however, and the sector itself doesn’t get much notice on government benches despite it being a growing British success story. Schools, meanwhile, often need support to put in place a successful digital plan for their school so that they can support the waves of newly qualified teachers coming in. Teachers, of course, who in an ideal world get to teach, creatively, and not just grind out reams of paperwork into the night, need the time-saving solutions to help channel their efforts It’s time that the g


more notice to the role such technologies can play in teacher retention, while championing a pioneering sector.Maybe next budget, more will be said about te acher retention .


overnment sat up and paid into teaching.


Mainstreamschool can lead pupilswith AutismSpectrumConditions to feel socially and emotionally exclu ded rather tha n included and accepted Comment by DR EMMAWILLIAMS, University


Mainstream school can lead pupils with Autism Spectrum Conditions to feel socially and emotionally excluded rather than included and accepted Comment by DR EMMA WILLIAMS, University of Surrey


ty of Surrey


We cannot assume that simply including young people with autism in mainstream schools will result in them feeling more socially integrated and accepted. Our recent findings published in the journal autism suggest that negative experiences in mainstream schools, including verbal and physical bullying, can adversely affect how they view themselves, increasing their risk of developing low self-esteem and mental health problems.


educated in mainstr been a sharp rise in


In the UK, in line with the move towards inclusive education, there has the number of pupils on the autism spectrum being eam settings, from just over a half 10 years ago to more


than three quarters now. Our examination of 17 previous studies exploring the views and experiences of children and teenagers with autism in mainstream school settings suggests that, whilst increasingly ‘physically’ included, many feel socially and emotionally excluded.


Our day-to-day interactions with, and perceptions of, other people profoundly shape how we think and feel about ourselves. As young people spend a significant amount of time in school, their interactions with others are likely to have a particularly powerful impact on how they make sense of themselves. This is no different for pupils with autism.


We found that how pupils with autism view themselves is closely linked to their perceptions of how others, especially classmates, treat and interact with them. The tendency of many pupils with autism to internalise the negative attitudes and reactions of others toward them, combined with unfavourable social comparisons to peers, can lead to a sense of being ‘different’ and more


Decemb e limited.


r 2017 2017


We found that the physical environment of schools can also increase the sense of isolation and ‘difference’ of pupils with autism. Sensory sensitivity, which is a common characteristic of autism and can magnify sounds to an intolerable level, may lead to everyday classroom and playground noises such as shrieks and chatter being a source of anxiety and distraction. This impact s on a pupil’s ability to concentrate and mix with difference.


We are not saying that mainstream schools a


re inevitably ‘bad’ for pupils peers, emphasising their


with autism, as other evidence suggests they have a number of positive effects, including increasing academic performa addition, those pupils with autism who develop feel accepted by classmates said this helped alle


viate their social difficulties supportive friendships and nce and social skills. In


and made them feel good about themselves. This highlights the potential power of peers to facilitate, as well as impede, i Rather, we suggest that by listening to pupils


’ needs, cultivating a culture nclusion.


of acceptance of all, developing more peer mentoring and mediation program mes and making small changes such as creating non-distractin g places to socialise, schools can help these pupils think and feel more positively about themselves. It is likely that such changes would benefit all pupils who experience difficulty fitting in, not only those with autism.


valued, rat education important


With over 100,000 children in the UK diagnosed with autism, it is that we get this right to make sure pupils with autism get the they deserve and leave school feeling socially accepted, loved and her than with additional mental health issues.


www www .education-toda y..co.uk co.uk 21


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