The Disability Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is hearing about the appalling treatment and exclusion of children in schools across the nation.
I ran some training for managers of learning support last year and we explored the findings from a 2017 report by the NSW ombudsman into behaviour management in schools. The worrying high numbers of suspensions of students with disabilities is a clear indication that adjustments are not being made to cater for the complex needs of many students.
It is at our peril that we ignore these trends as this is the future of the nation we are educating. Anyone who who has worked in schools can confirm that the fast pace of life for teachers and staff means that things of great importance can be neglected because of bureaucratic imperatives and endless data collection. Marginalised students and families can demand huge amounts of teacher time especially where behaviour disorders are manifest.
Early steps must be taken to understand the needs of these students and an understanding developed about what needs are being expressed by the behaviour.
We could embrace the diversity of our population by beginning in the early years of school, demonstrating to the student population that everyone has a different style of learning and different strengths. In this we breed tolerance and an understanding of people who are differently able.