15 January 2018
Local authorities must involve children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) when reviewing the special educational provision in their area and planning future services.
Research presented at the DECP annual conference by Dr Tara Midgen, Theodora Theodoratou, Matt Leonard and Kirsty Newbury of Wandsworth Council, suggests that children’s sense of belonging has significant implications for schools, as it is likely to be positively associated with important outcomes such as engagement with learning, mental health and happiness.
As part of Wandsworth Council’s review of its special educational provision, the School and Community Psychology Service sought the views of children and young people with a range of needs focusing specifically on factors which influence children and young people’s sense of inclusion and belonging in their educational settings.
A total of 38 children aged 4-15 took part, with a range of special educational needs and disabilities. The children were asked what helped them feel they belong and what they think would improve their sense of school belonging. Four areas were highlighted as promoting a sense of belonging; environment, relationships, extra-curricular activities, and teaching and learning.
Relationships, with teachers and peers, and extra curricular activities were the most commonly occurring themes. Physical environment is also important to children, they want brightly coloured schools, clean toilets and new furniture and up-to-date equipment. Despite feelings of belonging students said schools could do more across all four areas.