Children with learning disabilities in Mainstream Schools

Many children with learning difficulties of all ranges are taught in mainstream schools as opposed to specialist schools. This can cause problems for both parents and teachers, as there are many schools that don’t have enough facilities or resources to give these children the special attention that they need. This can lead to these children (especially those with a moderate learning difficulty) getting lost in the rest of the class and behind in their learning, without anyone knowing the specific reasons behind this.

I wish to create an app to aid teachers and parents in monitoring a child’s learning difficulty and behavior in relation to education, at home and in school. The app will enable the teacher to be able to report on a child’s behavior and mood during certain classes to develop an understanding of the problem areas. Learning the effects of the learning disability on the child’s education and behavior will help both the parent and the teacher in discovering the best course of action in assisting the child, create a method of communication between the parent and teacher and potentially give parents more peace of mind when going through the diagnosis process and reduce some of the effects it can bring.

The app will act as a conversation between teacher and parent as the parent will be able to input information on the child’s behavior at home, for example how they cope with completing homework tasks. The teacher will then be able to provide behavioral traits on the child during school. There will then be a report at the end of the day/week with the analytics and correlation of this information that both the parent and teacher can view. This conversation will lead to the parent feeling as though they have a bigger role in their child’s education and the teacher will be able to determine the best course of action for helping the child with their learning difficulty. This could be extra help in school with specific subjects or exercises that the parent could do at home with the child. Finding out what is motivating to the child will help the teacher make the curriculum more personalized to that child’s needs as opposed to assuming they will be able to follow along with the rest of the class. However the app will not alienate the child, it is up to the parent and the teacher whether the child is aware of the app or not and whether he/she takes an active role in it. There is the potential for the child to have their own say in the logistics of the app.

The app will be easy to use and have a friendly interface so that it is enjoyable to use and less of a chore. The app will focus on the positive rather than the negative, encouraging progress from the child and rewarding achievements whilst also highlighting areas of improvement for future progress. It will be about working with the student to cater learning to what is best for them, not fighting them to make them learn the same way as everyone else. In a Blended Learning style, the outcome of the project is to be used alongside traditional teaching methods and not just one tool to rule them all.

If anyone can offer any opinions on this idea, I would love some feedback! Especially from those who would be the main audience and users of the app!

What a fantastic idea. I am the parent of a young woman of 28 who has profound and complex learning disabilities and also I used to work as SALT. Do similar apps already exist in any field? Such an app would help us, as parents to communicate with professionals in a variety of setting.

Is this app to be used in the classroom? I wouldn’t think any teacher would have time to use this app during class time. Is this for primary or secondary schools? Regards Sue

I have some concerns about this. An app cannot replace empathy, experience or expertise nor appropriate training. With a combination of the change in the SEN system in England and austerity cuts schools have been put under pressure to assertively avoid the identification of children with SEN in order to avoid the cost of having to make provision for them. This is having a devastating impact on the children, their families, peers, teachers, etc but many people seem to be in denial or unaware of what is happening which in turn is contributing to the increase in the number of children, especially with SEN, developing mental illness or colliding with the criminal justice system. However well intentioned, an app is not going to solve our broken political system that is quite happy to spend billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on warfare, nuclear weapons or subsidising the failed nuclear power industry but cannot fund the basic services, provision and infrastructure the country needs including meeting the needs of children with SEN. I am in despair at the state of the UK in general and what is happening in education in particular.

Hi Sue, Thankyou for your feedback!
I am aware that teachers don’t have enough time as it is and this is a main issue that I would be trying to combat. In the beginning I would like to have the app incorporated into primary school classrooms as this is the time when most SEN comes to light and children can get behind most with their learning. I would hope to make the app as easy to use that a teacher would only have to press a couple of buttons a few times a day to log the students behaviour and then the app would do the rest, it could potentially even make writing things like report cards easier. I would also be assuming that a teacher will only have a couple of students per class with SEN, If there were more perhaps a TA would be able to monitor the child… The last thing I want is to add another thing to a teachers already long list! The whole idea is to make it easier for parents and teachers to communicate thus meaning that the parent will feel more involved and be able to do things at home with the child to help the teacher. The app is still in the planning stage, so I appreciate any guidance you could give me :smile:

Hi Geordie,
I agree with you, the current system is broken and an app isn’t going to fix that. However my reason for pursuing the creation of this app is to make a start at repairing the bridge that there is between some parents and teachers. The app would not be there to replace the expertise and training of the teacher, only another tool that they can use to assist them with it. I believe that blended learning and personalising education for every child is the way forward however this is currently obviously a very hard thing to do. However this app could ease some of the weight that the system currently inflicts on parents and teachers by helping them to work together to figure out a child’s needs and the appropriate action to help them succeed, both at home and in school. If it helps even in the slightest it would be a step in the right direction! Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it!

There is an app available called ClassDojo that similarly provides a way for parents and teachers to communicate about a child’s progress at school however there is nothing currently available in this field specifically for children with SEN, I believe although an app is not going to solve all problems in the system it could be a step in the right direction especially to give parents piece of mind! Thankyou for your feedback!

Hi Rowan, the response below comes from one of our parent carers. Is it possible that you could keep us informed as to the progress of your app? Many thanks, Sue Kellett LDC Community

I am so interested in your idea, i have 2 daughters with learning difficulties. my eldest is 15, Diagnosed with dyspraxia Moderate learning difficulties and attachment disorder)very challenging as a 2/3 year old went to mainstream school until year 8 did fantastic in primary, we knew the day she started at secondary mainstream secondary education was not right for her, it then took us 18 months fighting to get her moved to special school, where she is now thriving. My second daughter fits your description to a “T” although I suspected 5 years ago she had Auditory Processing Disorder it took until October 2015 to get a diagnosis Primary school insisted she had no difficulties although she had lots of support and then diagnosed profound ADP. I feel there are other undiagnosed problems such as Dyscaculia but getting anyone to listen to us is impossible. Now being in secondary education for almost 6 months her grades as slipping Maths SATs results were level 4 and now level 2. SENCO at her school is brill, but this doesn’t help with the worries for my daughters future she has always disappeared into the background. Although we are trying hard to support her we really are doing it blind as we know little of what goes on at school. I think the app would be so helpful and would love to know more.

This looks a really interesting and informative app, however, I have some reservations about will it actually be used? Already in most special schools there is a home/school diary systems, this is often filled in by LSA’s not the class teacher and only give a very broad view of the pupils day. For this to effectively work there need to be real trust between teacher and parent and total honesty about how the day has been. I supported a lad with challenging behaviour and we rarely told mum exactly what happened during the day with his behaviour as we didn’t want to paint too black a picture.

I also think there is an awful lot of demand on teachers particularly where students with additional needs are concerned such as paperwork etc, will they honestly fill these in on a daily basis.

This would be amazing if everyone was committed to giving it the right amount of time

Hi Rowan, are you still looking for feedback and / or have you progressed any further with the app? Thanks, Susan