Page 2, 12th October 1962

12th October 1962
Page 2
Page 2, 12th October 1962 — OUR 'SPECIAL SCHOOLS'

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I would be grateful if your readers and their friends would take an even greater personal interest in special schools, provided under the Education Act, for children up to sixteen years of age not able to follow the teaching given in our primary and secondary schools.

The authorities seem to have done wonderful work in building or finding special schools. recruiting stall specialists in the teaching required ny such pupils, providing guides to take them to and from their homes to their schools.

It is compulsory. under the Act.

for all children, judged able to benefit from some such schooling, either to be sent to schools designated by the local education officer or placed by their parents or guardians in independent schools offeting similar chances of learning.

Unfortunately, some of the pupils come from homes where decent behaviour is not taught nor insisted on. It is essential for the special schools not only to teach these boys and girls decent table manners but also train them in hygiene and these tasks, often in some cases unbelievably difficult, must be done with patient loving guidance anu friendly encouragement, too often without the cooperatior. of parents. But class-teaching is ONLY part of the education offerci by such schools. Those in charge of the meals and of taking care of the school, are also. willy-nilly, educating those children rightly or wrongly. From them, too, the children should get real affection and understanding and, before all, good example.

They too should help to encourage good habits and discourage and prevent had ones. But in a number of cases told me recently the meals-catering and the schoolcaretaking assistants seem to see these boys and girls as units or thingh. certainly not as human beings! It is far harder to develop confidence in these 'educationally subnormal' children and in these cases, the non-teaching staff seemed quite unconsciously I think, to be undermining the work of the class-teachers.

The whole point of education is to develop to the full all the powers God has given these pupils. Parents have the primary right and the duty to educate their children. including those not up to normal standards. Catholic parents should be especially interested in these schools for mentallyhandicapped children and cooperate with the head teacher and the staff in seeing that all conditions in these schools are maintained at the highest standard possible.

It is a heartbreaking task as some of the adolescents have far from pleasant habits and can wear out the patience of saints! But all these childrer are God's children calling for our compassion and our love. Many of them are most affectionate, grateful and attractive. But these can be harmed rather than helped if unsatisfactory customs are allowed to get established.

School managers as well as parents should bother to keep in close touch with these schools and help the teaching staff to raise even higher the standards they have established. I write as one who knew little of a practical nature about such schools until some very disturbing facts were brought home to me. Supervision in such schools is even more important and demanding than in the usual schools.

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