Children may need extra help with their education for a variety of reasons.
A child’s education could be affected by issues resulting from:
- Social or emotional difficulties
- Problems at home
- Being particularly gifted
- A physical disability
- Moving frequently
- Behavioural difficulties
- A sensory impairment or communication problem
- Being a young carer or parent
- Having English as an additional language
It is not possible to list all the reasons because it will always depend on each individual child. What is important is the recognition that any number of different circumstances can affect different children’s ability to learn. So support may need to come from health, social work or certain voluntary organisations, as well as from within education. Professionals with different areas of expertise should all work together to make sure any support your child gets is properly tailored to their individual needs.
Your child’s needs may last for a short time, and the problem may be resolved easily. Or their needs might be very complex, and they may require additional support for a number of years.
Whatever your child’s needs, everyone involved should try to identify them as early as possible and provide the necessary support in a way that does not single out your child.
Why children may have additional support needs
- The learning environment is not appropriate for a child’s individual needs.
- Family circumstances are affecting a child’s ability to learn.
- The child has a disability or health need
- A child is experiencing social or emotional problems.
It is not possible to list all the circumstances that may mean a child needs additional support because every child is different. Circumstances that disrupt one child’s learning could have little or no effect on the learning of another.
The following are some examples of situations that may give rise to additional support needs. However, they are a guide only. As a parent, you will know your child better than anyone else and understand when they may be having difficulties.
• The learning environment is not appropriate for a child’s individual needs
It may be that what is being taught, or the way it is being taught, is not suitable for your child. The materials used may be inaccessible to them. Perhaps the physical environment, e.g. the way the classroom or school is laid out, is not giving your child the best chance of success.
• Family circumstances are affecting a child’s ability to learn
Children’s progress at school is influenced with what’s happening at home. If their home life is disrupted in any way, this may affect their ability to benefit from school education. Examples include children who are affected by family breakdown, who are homeless or move home often, who are helping to care for parents or siblings with health problems, who have become parent themselves, or who are in care or have recently left care.
• The child has a disability or health need
Children are likely to need additional support at school if they have motor or sensory impairments (e.g. Difficulty with movement or sight), specific language impairments, autistic spectrum disorder, learning or attention difficulties or a debilitating illness. Mental health problems such as depression or eating disorders can also affect children’s ability to learn.
• A child is experiencing social or emotional problems
Children may also need additional support if they have experienced bereavement, have missed a lot of school for whatever reason, are experiencing bullying, are experiencing racial discrimination or displaying behavioural difficulties. Children who misuse drugs or alcohol are also likely to need support to access education.
Remember the above is by no means a complete list – a child may need additional support at any time and for any length of time.