#90 Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Pupils with Special Educational Needs can often be a bone of contention in libraries, in that they can tend to appear throughout the day without due cause. A cynical librarian could point out that it might appear as if some teachers tend to sideline and exclude such pupils.

I’ve had a lot of contact with SEN pupils, the vast majority of it profitable. They have come in all shapes and sizes from those with social difficulties, through to individuals with severe spectral disorders. For sure, these pupils can be difficult to work with from time to time. However, over a period of years, I found my attitude towards them change from suspicion and anxiety, to one of interest and occasional delight at special qualities that can be uncovered

Chess certainly helped me discover that no individual should be stereotyped, and that externally violent and abusive pupils can become quite civilised and extremely disciplined within the calm environs of the chess board. I also discovered that many pupils labelled as SEN can turn out to be extremely thoughtful and interesting individuals if they are allotted time, attention and respect.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that relationships with some of these pupils was built up during times they were ‘allocated’ to the library for their own protection during non-teaching times, which is a shameful aspect of our schools and society in general.

More information about SEN here.

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