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MEP learning pack

Masters in Educational Practice: Special educational needs and inclusion learning pack


Impact of the environment


Environmental issues that have an impact on the achievement of specific groups

The data used to measure learners’ achievement in school is easily available through the school, the local authority and the ‘My local school’ website (external link).

What is less easy to measure is underachievement. What do we know about underachievement? How do we define underachievement? How is it measured?

The issues of boys’ underachievement, and underachievement of learners living in poverty are commonly discussed (look at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website (external link) and the Poverty learning pack).

Activity 2.7.1

This activity seeks to encourage the concept of underachievement. Discuss the concept of ‘underachievement’ with a colleague. Is there a school consensus on what this means?

Research indicates that specific groups underachieve in school. A recent document by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) illustrates this with the thought provoking subtitle ‘I want to be a vet – will you let me?’. What are the environmental impacts here NDCS (2013)?

  • A postcode lottery across the system – parents/carers report considerable geographical variations in audiology services, family support, information given to them, specialist support and local authority provision.
  • A lack of support – parents/carers, teachers and specialist staff are not getting the resources they need from local authorities to be able to support deaf children.
  • An invisible disability – deafness is sometimes invisible when government and local authorities consider provision.

Links between academic underachievement and externalising behaviour have long been noted (Hinshaw, 1992). Externalizing behaviour includes childhood behaviours such as defiance, impulsivity, disruptiveness, aggression, antisocial features and over activity. Reflect on what the environmental impacts might be here.

Activity 2.7.2

The following question encourages the seeking of further information around the topic of underachievement:

Is there research that indicates that other groups of learners with special educational needs underachieve?

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