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The Silent Heroes of Education

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

The Education Support Workers in special needs schools are the silent heroes of the education world. Working with students with special needs is a unique job. It attracts a certain type of person that is often compassionate, without being sympathetic, caring without being attached and aware without being in constant reaction. ES are a unique breed. Specialising in an area of education where students can be challenging on many levels including having ADHD ADD oppositional disorders, autism, down syndrome, a history of trauma or poverty or both. These are just some of the areas that ES are working with throughout the day with many different characters in the mix. ES on a daily basis are asked to support students that can have trouble socialising, learning and integrating

into society. Issues may include problems with aggression and sensitivities like sound and space, change and learning difficulties including comprehension and communication. These students may have personality challenges, come from abusive family lives, be non verbal, angry, heightened or withdrawn and lack commitment to life The list goes on with the different versions of each and every student that a ES will work with on any given day. With many and varied tasks at hand, there are constant assessments to be made and reading or observing a student and whole class is apart of any normal day in the life of an ES. The steadiness and care of an ES is unmistakable. They learn to observe and act only when needed. Often anticipating a situation and potentially preventing a incident just by offering a word of wisdom and a holding moment for a sensitive person or group. Patience is not a word when you are an ES. This is because there is more to it than that. An ES can often have a deep settlement in their bodies that allows what happens to take place without having to wilfully be patient with others. Without perfection they understand, watch, give space, respond and encourage the student to step up and learn in their own time and space. Sympathy doesn’t work in a special school. Who needs it? Not the students and that’s for sure. The students may have their issues and challenges but they are also often gifted and amazing in their own unique way. To sympathise would not only be inappropriate it would be an insult. For all we need in this life is equality and respect, right? Understanding and loads of care and support is what’s called for when it comes to special needs support. The Education Support workers have a role that is undeniably needed and they can never be compared to a teacher. It’s like oranges and apples. Two amazing roles with very different flavours. The teacher teaches and holds the class and the ES works around the class to ensure that each and every student is seen and known and supported. They are strong, sensitive, wise and willing. Supporting every staff member and sometimes a whole school community to feel truly supported. The silent hero’s of our schools are the Education Support workers and they are the backbone and heart of our education system. Kathryn Fortuna Education Support | Counsellor | Wellbeing

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