Chances are you have come across someone with special educational needs. You might even have special needs yourself.
It is not uncommon to have to meet, interact or help out in everyday situations. But as anyone will tell you, it is safe to say that a lot of care, both professional and loving, is needed to support each individual special educational needs child as they grow up to prepare for the world around them.
Now imagine running a school.
To maintain a level that meets educational standards, that continues to go above and beyond for each and every child... it is, frankly, hard work, but hard work that is incredibly rewarding.
I work as a fundraiser for The Collett School, a special educational needs school in Hemel Hempstead. I am writing this to tell you that there is simply not enough money to run these schools, and it is a travesty that is only just gaining public awareness.
Special needs and disabilities are in the public eye more than ever before. We're in the midst of a renaissance of sorts - since the fantastic London Paralympics in 2012, disabilities have remained firmly in the spotlight. With advances in science and education, British society has come to accept and nurture people with special educational needs and disabilities. For something that was once considered so abnormal to become an everyday corner of public life is a remarkable feat.
But there is still so much more that needs to be done.
At The Collett School, 93% of our council funds go directly to our specially trained staff (of which there is only one teacher per 12 children - that figure should be one to eight). The rest is used to cover just a handful of supplies and amenities. To survive - and I mean survive - the school must fundraise the rest. To improve standards, which everyone from pupils and parents to teachers and the council expects, means raising funds from parents and the local community.
For there to be a lack of funding available for a special educational needs school - hell, any school up and down this country - in the twenty-first century is a great injustice.
The fact that I have been hired emphasises the crisis: a school should not have to hire fundraisers. They should be provided with every pen, every book, every desk, every chair - ready to kick off the new academic year without a hitch.
Unfortunately, this is not the reality.
Despite these setbacks, we aim high. Our upcoming projects include sensory equipment for our autistic pupils, a football pitch, disabled access across the entire school grounds and new flooring for two classrooms.
We and other schools must sign up to local community schemes, such as the Co-op's Local Causes and Tesco Blue Tokens to ensure we get the necessary funding. Parents skydive, local businesses donate their time - anyone and everyone is needed, both in the local community and beyond.
Our pupils deserve the best, so we will strive to ensure they get the best.
*This is the first in a series on special educational needs, education in the UK and the goings on at The Collett School*Suggest a correction