My life at school

understanding the experiences of children and young people with special educational needs in residential special schools

Liz Pellicano, Vivian Hill, Abigail Croydon, Scot Greathead, Lorcan Kenny, Rhiannon Yates

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Protecting and enhancing the rights of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities living in residential special schools is an important duty on society. These children possess the same rights, including under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, as all other children: the right to family life, the right to participate in their communities, the right to shape the decisions that influence their lives,
the right to be and feel safe and secure in their environment, and the right to an education which develops their potential and prepares them for adult life. Living in a residential school, however, presents potential challenges to the maintenance of these rights, especially when the child also has physical, sensory, mental and emotional needs above and beyond those of typically developing children.

Given these challenges, it is particularly important that society hears the voice of these children so that we can all become aware of the ways in which they themselves feel that their key rights are respected and their interests protected and promoted. Remarkably little is known at present about how children with SEN and disabilities in residential schools feel about their care, education and resulting lifechances.

The absence of their voice from on-going debate is, however, deeply troubling. We will all, after all, only be able to protect the rights of these children effectively when we know how they themselves feel about their current experience and what they believe needs to change.

This report, therefore, aimed to reveal the views and experiences of these children and to compare their reflections with those of their carers, teachers and families. It did so in order to present a detailed picture of the ways in which their key rights are currently respected and to provide insights for policy-makers, parents and the broader community as they seek to enhance the wellbeing of all children and young people with SEN and disabilities in residential special schools.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherOffice of the Children’s Commissioner
Commissioning bodyOffice of the Children's Commissioner
Number of pages96
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • autism
  • special educational needs
  • education
  • residential
  • school

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