on air now

Our education system is letting down some of the most vulnerable students

Article image for Our education system is letting down some of the most vulnerable students

There’s a lot of debate around Australia’s education system, and ways to make it better.

People discuss the way teachers are employed, whether things like the NAPLAN test are beneficial or not, but the issue of special needs education has slipped through the cracks.

Many people are unaware that Australia has a serious shortage of specialist teachers, who are qualified to teach students who have Autism and other special needs.

In fact, in NSW, the number of school students with Autism goes up around 15% each year, and those with mental health needs increases by around 5%. Yet, every year, there are fewer and fewer specialist teachers to cater for these students, and the majority of teachers don’t feel confident about teaching a special needs student.

And this is a trend that applies right across the nation.

With early intervention, the right therapy and support throughout their schooling lives can make a world of a difference to the lives of those on the Autism spectrum, and students with mental health needs.

Autism Awareness Australia CEO Nicole Rogerson says schools, particularly High Schools, can expect an influx of special needs students in the coming years, based on school enrollment statistics, making it even more crucial for teachers to be trained properly.

“People assume children with autism must go to some school for autism somewhere…but the vast majhority go to the local school in your area…

What people don’t understand is that teachers who have children with Autism in their class aren’t necessarily given any additional training and are given very little help.”

Following the chat with Nicole, listener Jackie called in to tell the story of her grandson, who has Asperger’s, which highlights the importance of having a good, supportive teacher.