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Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) is a wider term involving a broad range of disorders, disabilities as well as difficulties. These problems may include physical impairments, out of which some may be relatively easy to identify straightforwardly and some of them are less obvious as well as rare. According to outcomes of research performed by Palikara et al (2019), there has been identified a strong connection between SEND and Poverty. The children from these families having low-level income are more likely to be born with the inherited Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and also more likely to develop some forms of SEND in their early childhood as compared to their peers. At the same time, it has also been identified that children with any form of SEND are more likely to be born into poverty as well as experience poverty as they grow up as compared to their peers. This essay will mainly focus on exploring the aspects associated with poverty and children having SEND through revealing their relationship. Moreover, this essay will also offer insights into various policies and regulations associated with equality and inclusive education.
The children having SEND coming from poor economic and social status face some specific challenges and barriers that prevent them from growing up into more prosperous adults. There are several factors having a particular role in this phenomenon, for example, the wellbeing of such children, access to the support for the special needs of such children, the outcomes as well as qualifications gained by them as a part of their education as they generally get the low grades and achieve less and in the end, their limited and diminished chances of finding well-paid word as an adult. According to Stepanova et al (2018), scholars from low-income families or poor family backgrounds generally are identified as having SEND and they do not receive support as well as sufficient interventions that might assist in addressing such special needs of scholars. As discussed above, the children having SEND and coming from family backgrounds with poor financial status face several disadvantages and enhanced vulnerability from the very beginning of their lives. However, still, their needs are not preferred or prioritized by the policymakers and schools many times (Van Herwegen, et al., 2018).
In recent years, there have been made a number of reforms in the SEND system across the United Kingdom. The Children and Families Act 2014 needs the public bodies to offer all the children having to SEND access to integrated provision through the (Educational Health and Care Plan) EHC plans. It is also looking forward to offering the children with SEND as well as their guardians more power and authority to direct the funding of government as per their needs. This Act was followed by a specific code of Practice serving as guidance for the education providers, schools, and the local authorities on how to fulfil their duties and offer full support for the students with SEND along with them who come for low-income background families. This Code of Conduct sets out various changes and rectifications including a movement to cover a range of 0-25 years and offering the children as well as their parents a greater say regarding the decisions affecting them. According to Hienonen et al (2018), such reforms are mainly focused on encouraging the greater focus on the SEND children as well as on the teachers who are catering for students having SEND in their classes rather than depending on the experts and specialists. In this new system, there has been provided more space for the child as well as parental voices in the matters that affect them.
In the United Kingdom, the Equality Act 2010 also prohibits any sort of discrimination against the people having protected characteristics specified within the section 4 of the act. Under these protected characteristics, disability is also listed but in range of certain circumstances. The disabled people will only be entitled for the protection under this act if they are defined as disabled under the section 6 of Equality Act 2010. A person is considered as disabled under the act in case of any physical or mental impairment and it has a substantial and long-term adverse impact on the ability of carrying out day-to-day activities.
The government of the United Kingdom is putting its efforts into enhancing the access to quality education for these children having to SEND, however, these reforms are either in the progress or have recently been completed in all of the education systems within the United Kingdom. In the year 1999, the World Bank made an estimation that children with disabilities may account for one out of five world’s poorest people. The study by World Bank in the year 2005 has also stated that the disability is related to the long-term poverty of an individual in the sense that the children having some specific disabilities are less likely to get or receive the human capital that can be helpful for them to earn higher incomes when they turn into adults. As per the views of Tohara (2021), individuals in developing and emerging nations are more likely to be influenced by the disability caused by some specific diseases that are maternal, prenatal, or communicable as compared to the people within the developed nations.
As per the research performed by Heiskanen et al (2018), this poverty as well as different forms of SEND also have influence over the educational outcome of such children. The students having SEND and coming from low-level income families also generally have poor educational outcomes in terms of wellbeing, academic achievement as well as exclusion rates. These poorer outcomes directly influence the earning potential of such individuals in their later lives. They do not get the opportunities for the job when they grow up because of their disabilities and poor academic performances. This results in their life-long poverty. Considering the primary school achievement within the United Kingdom, there has been identified an achievement gap between the primary school students who are eligible for the free meals in scold and those who are not eligible for the same. In the primary schools, approximately 64% of the students with meal eligibility achieved the expected level in the combined writing, reading, and maths measure as compared with the 83% of all the other students that are not eligible for the free meals in the year 2014 (Hannes, et al., 2018). There is a pronounced gap between the attainment gap of SEND children and others within the primary school. Out of the children identified with SEND, 38% of the students achieved the expected level in the combined writing, reading, and maths measure as compared with the 90% of students without any form of SEND. This gap is huge which reflects that the students identified with SEND tend to be weaker in academics and achieve poor educational outcomes. Ultimately, the poor education and results affect the earning potential of such candidates in the future and the chances of getting a good job in the future also get diminished (Toseeb, et al., 2020).
Behaviourism is an important and oldest classical theory of learning and it is also known as predominant psychological model. The key principles of this behaviourism approach include some specific points. These are: Behaviour is learned and governed by setting in which it occurs teaching does not occur without leaning and learning equates to the changing behaviours. Practically, the behaviourism-based inclusive educational practices involve the application of these points in inclusive educational practices. This approach has also shown positive results with the scholars having special needs in general education classrooms. According to Klang et al. (2020), Cognitivism is another theory of learning focusing on an individual’s memory, thinking, self-reflection and learning motivation. This approach concentrates on mental activities of scholars influencing the responses and acknowledging the process of goal-setting, mental planning and strategies of organization. Practically, Cognitivism-based inclusive educational practices include the application of mental information processing as well as interactions in offering guidance for student learning.
Theoretically, constructivism is focused on creating cognitive tools reflecting the wisdom of culture, insights and the experiences of learning. Hienonen et al (2018) have emphasized on social role of learning due to its influence on cognitive development through interactions between children and their peers, teachers as well as parents. This approach equates to learning that includes creating, constructing as well as inventing, mainly for the children to develop their own knowledge base.
According to the administrations of the United Kingdom, some children need different and distinct provisions from the majority of the students while considering the education. For example, some children get their qualifications and education in different settings i.e. special schools while the other scholars get differentiated educational support within the settings of mainstream education. In the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, such scholars are referred to as having “Special Educational needs and disability”. On the other hand, Heiskanen et al. (2018) stated that the SEND in the United Kingdom includes all the children who have some significant difficulty in learning as compared to the majority of the students of the same age or the children having a disability that hinders or prevents such children from using the facilities of a kind offered by the mainstream schools for the other students of the same age. Some of the important examples of SEND affecting the ability of a child to learn to include their ability to socialize, ability to understand things, reading and writing, concentration levels as well as physical needs and impairments (Hienonen, et al., 2018).
As per the opinion of Petretto et al (2020), there has been identified significant overlap between the students who have special educational needs as well as those who have physical challenges or disabilities. It can be said that the prevalence of SEN is way higher than that of disability. As per the Life Opportunities Survey, approx 9% of the children aged between 11 years to 15 years are identified as disabled in Great Britain. On the other hand, as per the other definition of disability, approximately 7% of the children aged between 1 to 18 years are identified as disabled within the United Kingdom. On the contrary, the children identified having some form of SEND within the United Kingdom varies and it is approximately 15.4%. There are also approx 2.8% of pupils having statements of SEN or an Educational, Health, and Care plan. It has been identified in the research performed by Klang et al. (2020) that the most prevalent forms of such SEND within the United Kingdom are related to the moderate level of difficulties in learning while for the pupils having such statement of SEND or EHC plans, the general primary requirement is Autism Spectrum Disorder. As per the views of Pitchford et al (2018), the disabilities, as well as Special Educational Needs, are identified as well as evaluated using different approaches and ways. Considering the identification of SEN children, some are identified by the medical professionals or the counsellors while others are identified by the tutors in the primary schools.
As per the research performed by Asbury et al (2021), the statistics reflect a strong link between the SEND as well as the people living below the poverty line. It has been identified that out of the students who are eligible for the free meals in the schools within the United Kingdom, approximately 28.7% of children are identified with the features of SEND. Hence, it can be clearly stated that the children having SEND are comparatively more prevalent among the poor or disadvantaged children than among the less disadvantaged students. According to Pitchford et al. (2018), there are variations among the different types of SEND and they are associated with poverty depending upon their conditions and the form of SEND they possess. It has been identified that children with all forms of SEND tend to live in income poverty as compared to children without any form of SEND. On the contrary, Pitchford et al (2018) stated that specific forms of SEND such as behavioural and physical difficulties are particularly strongly related to the low socio-economic status in society.
There is a very strong connection between poverty as well as SEND and the causality also runs in different directions. There are several reasons why poor children are more likely to have SEND. One of them is an intergenerational disability. This kind of disability plays a major role in establishing a connection between poverty and SEND. However, the evidence proving this argument is very limited. According to Klang et al (2020), there is a higher prevalence of disabled children having disabled parents. As there is a relationship between poverty and adult disability as well as the hereditary nature of different types of disabilities such as autism and dyslexia, it is not at all surprising that their poverty level is linked with the form of SEND. Moreover, the research performed by Tohara (2021) also reveals that the disability of parents is also a key driver of poverty as due to the disabilities, their income level, as well as employment rates, is very down. Considering that inheriting a disability or disorder also reduces the chances of future employment of such individual and it also impacts adversely on the earning potential of such candidate.
There are some other co-occurring causal factors that increase the chances of the children being poor having SEND. One of the most important factors among these is the low level of maternal education as it also co-occurs with poverty. Generally, it has been identified that the mothers without proper education or qualification are more likely to have children with such disabilities or special educational needs as compared to such children whose mothers have higher degree education. There are some other factors associated with poverty resulting in the development of any form of SEND. These factors include consuming alcohol or smoking during the tenure of pregnancy, paternal stress, low birth weight, or family breakdown (Stepanova, et al., 2018). Due to such underlying conditions, the children may develop any sort of disability or learning difficulties. These factors contribute to the development of certain types of SEND among children. The children having such sort of environment or factors in their families or home tend to be intimidated by such behaviors and this generally has a negative impact on their behavior as well as intellectual aspects. They tend to develop learning difficulties and there may be a need for extra support or special educational treatment (Palikara, et al., 2019).
As per the opinion of Petretto et al (2020), the causality flows in both ways and it is also important to understand why the children are more likely to go on to be poor who already have any sort of SEND. It has been identified that SEND plays a very important role in aggravating as well as causing poverty among children. For example, the parents having children with SEND need to spend more time with their children due to tow which they need more time away from the work. This result in decreasing earning potential and consequently, the family income also goes down. This ultimately leads to poverty which keeps passed on to the generations. Moreover, often the care for the children with SEND comes at very high costs. This can also result in financial disadvantages for the families. Providing the right amount of care and treatment to such children can increase the expenses of families and sometimes it becomes very difficult for some families to afford such expenses. As per the research performed by Bodvin et al (2018), having children with SEND within the family can also result in stress as well as breakdown. Ultimately, the families having children with disabilities and learning difficulties need time and special attention to such children due to which they cannot focus on their work. The increasing expenditure made on the care and treatment of such children also causes into increasing poverty level for such families. Families with low-level income face challenges in even educating their children so that they can develop their earning potential in their adulthood.
There can be made certain recommendations in relation to improving the condition of such children having SEND and for the parents facing challenges in affording care for them. According to Bodvin et al (2018), the government of the United Kingdom should ensure that there has been provided sufficient funding in the early years settings to offer universal family support services to the parents and children with SEND. It will help in promoting an effective learning environment at home for the students and also developing the skillset of the parents in supporting the learning of their child. Moreover, the training within the SEND system should also incorporate or encompass an ethnicity dimension so that the universities or schools can be more sensitive towards the challenges and problems of under-identification and over-identification to challenge bias. It has also been identified that the costs of care are not easy to be afforded by the families having SEND children. According to Hannes et al (2018), it takes three times more expenses to bring up and raise a disabled child as compared to a healthy and normal child. Hence, it is also very crucial that outside of the education sphere, the government policies should also be focused on the welfare of such families and should support in bearing such costs of care and bringing up and educating such children. The United Kingdom’s government is also expected to make the extra funding available for improving the career services available for the children with SEND. There is a need to put emphasis on the overall development of such children and should also provide additional support for their special educational needs.
In a nutshell, poverty and Special Educational Needs and Disability are interrelated. The children having any sort of extra support in education and any kind of disability end up being poor in future. The government in the United Kingdom is also putting its efforts to maintain the equality among these children and also offer them additional support for their wellbeing and education. In the end of this essay, some important recommendations have been provided. It is believed that taking such measures can be helpful in dealing with this major issue of inequality and poverty.
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