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Beyond The Maze

What was discussed with the recent Education Support Forum?

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This week, I attended a forum open to those interested in speaking up about the education funding and how it is used to support students with disabilities.

It was held by the Shadow Assistant Minister for Schools, Mr Andrew Giles and the Federal Member of Longman Susan Lamb.

Now before you think this is a political spiel for the ALP, it is not.  All parties have their own view of how things will work, be it good or bad.

However, I was impressed with their sincere interest in hearing us as parents and teachers and listening to our stories and ideas for improving our system. They also advised that the current government was looking to remove 17 billion from the education budget, which is a concerning thought.

The goal for them was to listen to us as parents and really hear what was needed in schools.   Andrew had travelled to every state excluding SA by the time he was here to listen to many groups like this.

With 10 of us around the table I was surprised that the number was so small, unfortunately, the only time that they could get was around school pick up time so this may have kept the group small, sometimes times just don’t work with everyone.

I was lucky enough to make alternative arrangements very quickly for my son to be collected from school as I felt I just had to be here for this and be the voice for our children living with ADHD.

As we moved around the table, it was obvious that Autism was very strongly represented by world changing parents which is fantastic.   However, I was the only voice on the table for ADHD.  Yes, some had a dual diagnosis but I was there to talk ADHD.

As I heard the stories of other mothers on that table, I struggled to hold back the tears welling in my eyes.   It was heartbreaking to listen to the battles that these parents and their children had to endure.

We brought up the training that schools were not providing to staff, the lack of empathy given from schools, schools taking the easy option out and suspending or expelling children, children being controlled by catchments and not being able to attend another school in a different catchment even though it may be better suited to that child,  schools refusing entry to special needs children but accepting gifted children,  bullying from other children, IEP’s not being followed and funding being pooled to use across the school and not for the individual child.

I managed to get a few minutes of talking in and during that time, I brought up the topics and solutions for:

  • No funding for ADHD
  • Number of suspensions for children are way too high. This not only has a huge effect on the child but also can have a flow on effect of having under educated children (especially if that are often out of school) which could then see a rise in unemployment, depression, suicide, and crime.   Basically, no support in schools can have a bigger impact on the social security and health sector in the long term, not to mention our children!
  • Lack of training for teachers in how to use strategies to teach a child living with ADHD
  • Lack of support for teachers to implement training even if they undertake their own training
  • IEP’s need to be implemented by schools and not just put in place but nothing really actioned
  • Peer to Peer education about children living with ADHD (this would be perfect for ASD as well)
  • Inclusion – too many children are being excluded from excursions and/or school camps and many can only attend if they have a parent or carer with them.
  • Parents struggling to hold down jobs as they are constantly at schools because schools can’t manage them.
  • Schools pressuring parents to medicate children to make it easier for them.

I also mentioned that when inclusion of special needs students was implemented into the general school system many years ago, it was such a big thing to do but the training doesn’t seem to have been continued.

I felt that I got to have my say and that I had the chance to represent us as parents of children living with ADHD.

One thing I can assure you, it doesn’t stop here and I will continue to be talking to as many people as possible about supporting ADHD in school.

There are far too many heartbreaking stories about special needs children in school and they deserve to be treated like everyone else and I won’t stop until I see change!

I have your back!

Until next time.

Paula x

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