Our Research Team are about to enter their third year of study with 10-year-old dyslexic participant Hester**. Hester has been able to help us to answer some of our queries (1) relating to the emotional well-being, self-belief and confidence a young person requires to achieve desired academic results. Subsequently, enabling the potential for successful integration and attainment in their secondary educational journey.
14% of children with SEN reach the necessary levels of attainment in reading, writing and mathematics, this is in comparison to 62% of non-SEN pupils (2). This bench-mark enables the pupil to access further education, work and careers.
SEN research is an area of huge potential with sadly little evidence-based studies achieved. Support of the SEN child is an area teachers and parents wish to encourage. Many are willing to explore differing approaches to enable favourable outcomes for primary aged children. Strategies and programmes are in place and yet there appears to be difficulties for the young person accessing and succeeding with these fantastic opportunities. What is causing this block? During our research (1) we noted one element of blockage was clearly the emotional well-being and self-belief of the young person.
In 2014 Public Health Britain (3) published a report which included the following statements “pupils with better emotional well-being at seven, score higher in their SATs, than pupils with poorer emotional well-being”. This statement was first made in 2012 by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre (4) (CWRC) who went on to say this relationship did not occur at any other age.
As a subsequence to such reports’ schools developed and encouraged awareness as to the importance of social and emotional use within schools. However, social and emotional support may have been linked to actual events for a child, such as those in receipt of FSM or a life changing experience. Social and emotional concepts may have been relegated to a standalone aspect rather than integrated into all areas of teaching including the use of assistive technology for SEN pupils. What do we mean by such a statement? To explore this thought let us first consider the CWRC (4) findings that children who ‘enjoy’ school between the ages of 7 and 10 will achieve academically better later in life.
To enjoy school, one must be confident in their approaches and have self-belief they can and will achieve. Hester’s confidence has increased immensely since working with assistive technology, the use of which is promoted and encouraged by her school. However, the school also recognises the emotional well-being of their teachers has a direct impact on the pupil. If a teacher does not have belief in the technology they are being asked to promote, or perhaps feel their training has not covered the variety of aspects a SEN child may present with, their lack of confidence will feed through to the child. If the teacher lacks confidence, the child most certainly will.
Our Research Team wish to promote and encourage the current and future outcomes of their longitudinal study that indicates links between academic success and confidence/happiness with the use of assistive technology and strategies. A child may achieve and overcome a reading difficulty and pronunciation problems which impact on spelling achievements, keeping up with their peers and develop positive listening skill. All these aspects can lead to positive attainment results, not only for the school but for the child’s long-term life goals and future adult happiness. The use of the ReaderPen, for Hester and now several of her peers, is helping to encourage exploration of confidence at an age when the use of equipment is not stigmatised by the children but develops and evolves into positive habitual behaviour.
In conclusion finding and encouraging strategies and technology that enables the child to achieve and gain self-belief will result in the child who actively seeks to read independently, spell, listen and explore their abilities further!
** Hester – name used to protect identity of child