We know that it takes a team of dedicated adults with the right resources and knowledge to help EVERY child with additional Educational needs reach his or her highest potential. Our philosophy is INCLUSIVE Education. We therefore believe that all teachers in Nigeria should be trained on Additional Educational Needs and schools should practice Inclusive education.
In general, we misidentify a large numbers of children with Additional Educational Needs. In some cases, children are placed on Additional EDUCATIONAL NEEDS register in schools for no sound reason. Some children are placed on just the observation of the teacher. It is important that schools ensure they have a sound referral process; that way children with additional needs are properly identified and a review process put in place to ensure those who do not have additional needs are taken off the register and those who need the services are properly catered for.
In my experience as a Specialist Assessor the sign of a poor register in schools is where large numbers of children are identified, particularly in the area of Moderate Learning Difficulty and Specific Learning Disabilities. Many children with life-long neuro-developmental disorders are misidentified as having either Moderate Learning Difficulty or Specific Learning disabilities. Research suggests that over half of children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) go unidentified and this is likely to increase in areas of disadvantage. In addition, we know that children with dyslexia regularly go unidentified, or if identified, they do not have their needs met. The issue of accurate identification is crucial because it is the first step towards giving children the support they need. After all, if schools do not know which children need support, then how can these children be possibly supported properly? One of the positive impacts of the training that teachers receive in the area of identification, is that schools are now forced to re-examine their registers and take a closer look at their identification, assessment and evaluation process.
The main intervention a child with additional needs is access to good quality teaching by teachers who fully understand the child’s needs. Once identified, children with additional needs, need focused and specialist interventions to ensure they receive the support they need.
However, despite our children being identified as having additional needs, we still fail to train teachers or support staff fully. A radical programme of comprehensive initial teachers training in additional educational needs, has to be followed by regular national training programmes for existing teachers, school owners and leaders, this is of utmost necessary. Despite the fact that Nobelova has embarked on a nationwide campaign in this direction, it is not catching fast enough and wide enough. As long as this situation lasts the concern will remain that children, particularly in mainstream settings are less likely to receive the support they deserve. Research shows that, accurate identification and staff training so that support is effective must be the key priorities. Nobelova is working to achieve this with the introduction of our online training programme in partnership with Exceptional Child www.exceptionalchild.org whereby we provide online solution for teachers’ development in additional educational needs. This online programme aims to develop professionals to help every child succeed by providing the very best in additional education-related training.
Helen Obiageli Oshikoya CEO and Founder Nobelova Gradani (2018)