Special Education Needs (SEN): The State of Affairs
Updated: Mar 29
*The Video is a bit blurry because it was recorded from our worldwide broadcast to the part of our global team who couldn’t be there in person; the message comes through loud & clear.
On December 8th, during Bennett International's Symposium (a blended live & virtual event) a panel of our schooling experts gathered to talk about the trends they’re spotting in worldwide education. In this excerpt, Special Education Needs (SEN) consultant Stacey Kinnamon offers sharp insight into the dynamic sphere of Special Education in public (state) and private schools. Along with this video recording is a full transcript below, lightly edited for reading clarity.
Stacey: In the public schools, because students were maybe on Zoom, or maybe just having work packets, kids just missed out on so much learning. That meant that special education teachers and administrators couldn't really get their eyes on those children. So, they were not able to be evaluated; they were not able to qualify for IEPs to get special education services. There were huge gaps.
Sometimes, students with really profound cognitive challenges, children on the spectrum, and I'm generalizing now, children with attentional challenges - did better on Zoom or working more at their own pace. But I would say that on the whole, in the public schools, the challenge has been that there are backlogs in terms of evaluations and getting kids special education services.
In the private schools, parents stepped in and became the educators, because we were all at home during the pandemic. I think many parents saw some of the challenges that their kids might have had in school, that they then became aware of because they were at home. But I think one of the reasons that SEN cases are exploding right now is because families have noticed things about their children and decided to have evaluations, which has led to another challenge - the huge backlog right now in getting evaluations.
Another trend I've seen is, just because more children are being evaluated, this doesn't necessarily make things better. The quality of evaluations perhaps hasn't really been where it should be, or where we would like it to be, because families are desperate to get their kids evaluated, and maybe go to providers and evaluators that have space, but maybe not the highest quality evaluations. So, we've seen kids being labeled in somewhat offhanded ways with no testing or documentation to support it.
Stacey Kinnamon is a Special Needs Education Consultant. She obtained her law degree from New York University and worked as an attorney for nine years before she and her family relocated to London. After six years, Stacey and her family returned to New York where she obtained a dual Master’s degree in general and special education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education. Stacey has worked as a teacher and as a volunteer in New York City public schools, a private reading tutor, and has a son with learning challenges. She volunteers with the Promise Project, a non-profit, which provides educational evaluations to underprivileged children.
Over the years, Bennett International Education Consultancy has worked with hundreds of corporations, many of them Fortune 500 companies, providing school advisement services—preschool through university—to the dependents of relocating employees. In addition to education placement, our Education Research and Analysis team provides customized consulting for corporations in need of assistance with a range of education issues: education policy writing and benchmarking, tuition studies, group move advisement and planning, education “site assessments,” and the creation of remote or difficult-location education solutions. Whatever a company’s education issue, wherever it is, Bennett has the experience and the expertise to help.