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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default Kickbacks to teachers from learning support professionals?

    I'm wondering if anyone teacher or not, has any experience, suspicion, or opinion on a this topic...long story short, I have been hearing about kids in my son's private school being referred to certain professionals. There is a behavioural optometrist, an occupational therapist, a speech psychologist and a paediatric psychologist whose names come up quite often in conversation. Now, I know a professional of this capacity can be very beneficial, but there should be a small percentage of children who could benefit from their services (or so I thought). Hearing about which child is seeing whom made me realise how blessed I am to have two children that don't need learning or behavioural support. Until we went to parent child interviews last week and got handed a sheet with the names of these four professionals, their contact details, and a star next to the behavioural optometrist's name. My son's two grade one teachers are concerned about his messy handwriting and the fact that he doesn't like to do his writing in class, and also that his cutting (of paper) could use improvement. They think we should see this professional, even though my husband and I both agree, for various reasons, that he seems to see things properly. We did explain this but the teachers basically said that if we see this professional and things turn out to be fine, its something they can check off "the list". I left quite upset. He is on track or ahead in all other areas, but they focused on this problem for the whole 10 minutes.
    Over the weekend my boys attended a birthday party and I had a few hours to chat with other mothers that I don't see as often. I know quite a few of these children well as they were in my son's prep class and I spent a lot of hours there last year helping with their activities. Two of the girls, who are young for their class (turning 6 in June) but are both right up there with the older kids and are very bright, have also been referred to specialists on the list for behavioural problems and suspected adhd(!) I am not a professional, but I can absolutely say that these kids are not problematic and there is no ADHD going on there.
    I can't shake the thought that the teachers are getting some gain from referring these children to professionals. I can't bring this topic up with everyone,but I only know of one child in the class that has definitely not been referred to someone in the list. I do know that it will cost us $400 to see the behavioural optometrist and who knows how much Medicare contributes on top of that. The school consists mainly of children in higher income households, as it is a pricey private school. Could they be counting on the fact that these parents will spend whatever it takes to help their child? It seems as though we have a closeknit group of parents this year which is the reason I have learned about everything....I wonder if the teachers were expecting everything to stay hush-hush as most people don't like to talk about their child's problems.
    Is it obviously unethical, but I can't find anything about this practice being illegal in Australia.
    If anyone has actually finished this, thanks for reading and I'd love to hear what you have to say.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Achievements:Topaz Star - 500 posts
    This sounds very strange indeed to me, but my teaching and parenting experience are very far removed from yours. I have two children in my class that I would be thrilled if their parents would just take them to the damn doctor, let alone a pricey specialist.

    I'd hate to say for sure the teachers are getting kickbacks, but honestly, in your situation, I'd be suspicious.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Achievements:Topaz Star - 500 postsAmber Star - 2,000 postsAmethyst Star - 5,000 posts
    I would be very surprised if this occurred. Not only is it unprofessional and unethical, it would also be illegal. I would imagine this sort of activity could lead to losing teaching registration.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Achievements:Topaz Star - 500 posts
    My husband teaches in a private school and no kick backs but I've just asked and he never tells them to see a specific doctor just "maybe it's worth getting checked with your GP". Also for a lot of specialists without a GP referral there is no Medicare rebate... A teacher isn't qualified to diagnose nor refer you to a specialist

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Achievements:Topaz Star - 500 postsAmber Star - 2,000 posts
    My friend's DD goes to a private (baptist) school and recently had a meeting with the teacher regarding referring her DD to a speech therapist. It really stressed her out but when she went to the meeting the teacher explained that they were required to refer 'x' number of children and her daughter's issue wasn't anything major, probably something she would grow out of but "by the book" she wasn't forming specific sounds at an age appropriate level yet, so she was one to "make up the numbers" to meet quota.

    I've only worked in government schools and have never heard of meeting a 'quota' of referrals before. Generally we will refer if there's any doubt (or get the school psych to assess if that's the appropriate first step) as we refer to the public system where the waiting lists can be a year or 2 so you sometimes want to refer before it becomes a problem IYKWIM.


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