How does a child’s school education compare to that of a grown man?
If you ask the National Centre for Education Statistics, a key metric used to determine how well children perform in school, it says the difference between the children of a child with a disability and a child of the same age with no disabilities is about a fifth of a degree.
That’s a huge difference.
In the UK, there are about 17,000 children in the country with a physical disability.
Some 5,000 of those are under the age of five.
They are the most disadvantaged group in society, with about 40 per cent of them in the most deprived areas of the country.
The vast majority of them are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, with a number of them being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders themselves.
Their schools are typically smaller and often have poorer facilities.
The data is not easy to find and researchers are struggling to get access to it.
The National Centre has a huge database of data and the organisation’s deputy chief executive, Anne Robinson, said it would be “unfair” to compare the situation of children of the most advantaged and disadvantaged groups of children.
“There are so many different types of children,” she said.
“So we really want to make sure that we can make sure we’re focusing on what we’re doing to tackle that gap.”
Robinson said she was concerned about the numbers of children in these disadvantaged areas of school.
“We know there’s a very high incidence of physical and mental disability,” she explained.
“That’s why we’re really concerned about what’s going on in the schools.”
It was also revealed in 2015 that there were more than 3,000 more children in special education, or in special needs classes, than there were children in primary schools.
The Department of Education and Skills says the numbers are actually closer to 5,500 children in schools in the UK than there are pupils in primary education.
Robinson said the data had a lot to do with the way schools were run.
“If you look at the children who go into school with disabilities, they are very likely to be placed into schools with a lot of segregation,” she noted.
“It’s a lot more difficult to have a child who’s a child psychologist, a psychologist who’s not a teacher, that can see that that child and that child are doing well in school and then they can give that child a place in a school.”
Robinson added that it was important that teachers had a more holistic approach to teaching and children were taught to understand the wider context in which they were learning.
She said there was also the issue of the “child who doesn’t know the rules”.
“When we have a school that has very high levels of isolation, it’s not necessarily because there are too many rules,” Robinson said.
Robinson also spoke about a lack of opportunities for parents of children with physical and/ or mental disabilities to speak to teachers about their child’s special needs.
She acknowledged that parents of special needs children were often frustrated with the amount of time and effort they had to put in to their children’s education.
“They feel like they’re getting nothing out of the process,” she admitted.
Robinson says that was partly due to the “nanny state” that existed in the 1980s, with schools set up to ensure parents were able to make the most of their childrens education.
Parents were often required to give up their own income to the school and if they did not, they would be placed on a waiting list.
Parents of children who were in special circumstances were often “forced” to attend school.
While the number of students receiving special education and special needs services in schools was rising, Robinson said it was a problem that needed to be addressed.
“The schools that we know have the best systems are the ones that we see children with disabilities going to,” she told The World Tonight.
“But we know there are a lot fewer children who are getting access to these services than there used to be.”
Robinson also said there were some important lessons to be learned from the 2016 Royal Commission into the Racial Discrimination Act.
“You don’t get to the end of this debate until we’re actually talking about the outcomes of that debate,” she added.
“And we are.”
The Sportsbible: Kids who aren’t born with disabilities Sportsbibles are a way of giving back to the community by creating an experience for the whole family.
We have a range of different ones that can be used to encourage the family to share in a special day or activity, and we’re offering free and reduced prices for all of our books.
To learn more about Sportsbibes, visit our Kids and Sports website.