Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by Dyslexia Action (CF 134)

Indicative Draft: The (0-25) Special Educational Needs Code of Practice

SUMMARY

Dyslexia Action is pleased to see that the consultation process is working, resulting in some positive changes. However we are still concerned about :

· the lack of clarity concerning the procedures and provision that will be put in place for children that are currently in the School Action and School Action Plus categories

· a lack of clear statements and examples to make it clear that dyslexia is a learning disability and it therefore comes under the banner of SEN

· the responsibility to meet the needs of children with special needs falling on teachers who are not properly trained to identify dyslexia and can make adequate alternative provision

Dyslexia Action therefore supports the recommendation for th e following addition s to Clause 62 of the Bill:

i. that all authorit ies (governing body or proprietor) must ensure all new teachers have undertaken in their Teacher Training a mandatory module on special educational needs, including dyslexia.

ii. The appropriate authority must designate a member of staff who shall be a qualified teacher and must have undertaken training to include a mandatory module on special educational needs, including dyslexia at the school (to be known as the SEN co-ordinator ) as having responsibility for co-ordinating the provision for pupils with special educational needs.

We welcome the incorporation of a national framework to guide local offers. We would like this to be strengthened so that it includes a requirement to take account of evidence about effectiveness drawn from scientific studies, the experience of successful practitioners and guidance from recognised professional associations and authorities.

DYSLEXIA ACTION’S RESPONSE TO THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS IN THE INDICATIVE DRAFT

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.3 Definitions of special educational needs (SEN) and disability

The Draft states that a child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:

‘(a) have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age: or…’

We are content that this remains as the definition, but we know from experience that it can create problems when being applied. For example, what is meant by the words significantly and majoritiy? We would like it to be made clear that this statement will often apply to children with dyslexia. We would also like it to be made clear that the definition should be based on the difficulty in learning and not on the severity of the failure that can result from this.

We are concerned that, in general, there is little guidance about the children whose difficulties are no t so extreme that they fall in the most severe minority of 2% , but who nonetheless require additional input to make appropriate progress. No suggestions are offered in the draft about the definition of the needs of this larger group.

1.4 If it is to be argued that those with less severe needs can be catered for by good quality , inclusive teaching practice, then it is essential that ALL teachers are adequately trained as teachers of children with Special Educational Needs, including dslexia. This is not the case at the moment .

CHAPTER 2: FAMILY CENTRED SYSTEMS

A person-centred approach to planning means that planning should start with the individual (not with services) and take account of their wishes and aspirations, and the support they need to be included and involved in their community. This is when the needs of a family with dyslexia should be able to voice their concerns and be listened to. If it aims to empower parents, children and young people so that they have more control over assessment and decision-making processes then concerns over a child’s possible dyslexia need to be considered by the school on or before the child’s admission.

These parent/carer forums need to be filtered through to parents via early years settings so parents/carers of dyslexic children can engage with them to ensure the needs of dyslexic children are on the local agenda.

CHAPTER 4: THE LOCAL OFFER

4. 1 We recognise the detail in the Local Offer is still to be included but we are concerned there is no guarantee that appropriate services will be provided. There are no minimum standards of what should be available. It is unclear what the right of appeal will be if services are not provided. The wording is not strong enough to provide redress for parents or young people if those services are simply not there. There must be a legal duty to provide what is set out in the Local Offer. The Local Offer must therefore include the following provisions:

For Primary and Secondary Schools

We expect the Local Offer to clearly state:

· what schools in the area are dyslexia-friendly schools (as judged by national standards);

· what schools have staff teachers specially trained in identifying and providing for children with dyslexia;

· what schools pay for a specialist teacher to come to the school

· what support is available to help children and young people move between phases of education and prepare for adulthood.

Further Education Establishments

Local Offers should detail which providers assist young people with dyslexia into work ;

w hich ones provide sources of information such as Access to Work arrangements . The Local Offer should provide information to students on arrangements for making complaints in relation to the aforementioned.

Dyslexia Action welcomes the recommendation that schools should identify an individual’s needs and highlight the necessary modifications necessary to ensure learning can take place. This was recommended in Dyslexia Action’s Dyslexia Still Matters Report (DSM) report, published in June last year. The DSM Report states:

· Schools need to demonstrate, through the Local Offer and in other ways, what they are doing to support children with dyslexia and literacy difficulties.

It is also essential that the Local Offer states here that if a school is not a dyslexia-friendly school and does not have access to a specialist teacher then they must be able to recommend alternative provision elsewhere to ensure the required additional expertise can be accessed by the parent and that the Local Offer also details this information.

CHAPTER 5 EARLY YEARS, SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND OTHER PROVIDERS

5.1As part of its call for a National Literacy and Dyslexia Strategy, Dyslexia Action has been campaigning for all teachers to be sufficiently trained to enable them to identify all SEN including dyslexia as early as possible.

The fact it is now stating ALL teachers need to be equipped to teach children with a diverse range of need and that it is the responsibility of providers to ensure they plan staff training, development and support to ensure all teachers are able to meet the needs of individual children is very reassuring as far as children with hidden disabilities are concerned. Early years providers, school and colleges will thus need to be accountable to ensure all children with dyslexia are identified and catered for.

We propose:

· The appropriate authority (governing body or proprietor) must ensure all new teachers have undertaken in their Teacher Training a mandatory module on special educational needs, including dyslexia.

5.2 We welcome the statement: ‘All teachers are teachers of children with special educational needs’ in this section as this means ALL teachers will now need to be trained in SEN - including dyslexia.

We believe children with dyslexia need to have access to good teaching in all lessons. A co-ordinated plan is needed to improve awareness and understanding of dyslexia for people in all roles of education. This should include:

· All trainee teachers should receive training on how to identify and support children with SEN and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. There are already government-sponsored resources which should be updated and disseminated.

· All teachers should receive INSET on dyslexia with regular updates. There are some good existing materials for this continual professional development, including the updated Inclusion Development Programme (IDP). National, regional and local leadership and co-ordination are required for effective, on-going roll out as recommended in the Warwick University (2011) study on the impact of Department for Education funded initiatives.

· All schools should have effective processes and skills in place to identify possible dyslexic pupils in Foundation as early identification remains the key to successful outcomes, as well as avoiding the stresses and frustrations (faced by children) that are still widely reported by parents today.

· Once assessment has been made by schools, specialist supervised intervention programmes should be implemented as required.

· Special needs should become a higher priority in the training and professional development for those in leadership and governance roles.

· A scheme is needed to enable more teaching assistants to receive training in specific interventions and methods of support.

· The requirement for SENCO training should be continued and should contain a consistent high level of dyslexia training input.

· The appropriate authority must designate a member of staff who shall be a qualified teacher and must have undertaken training to include a mandatory module on special educational needs, including dyslexia at the school (to be known as the "SEN co-ordinator") as having responsibility for co-ordinating the provision for pupils with special educational needs.

· Early identification remains the key to successful outcomes as well as avoiding the stresses and frustrations (faced by children) that are still widely reported by parents today.

5.5. Dyslexia Action believes the following information should be included:

1. Information about ‘What Works’ (best practice intervention teaching tools) should be easily accessible (on-line) to schools and they should be aware of where to find this regularly updated information.

Examples:

· Dyslexia Action has expertise, knowledge of tried and tested methods, resources and a pool of specialist dyslexia teachers that could advise Government on what works

· The Dyslexia SpLD Trust has developed a Literacy and Dyslexia/SpLD Professional Development Framework, sponsored by the Government, which is an on-line CPD tool for teachers and school staff to support them in teaching pupils with literacy difficulties, specific learning difficulties and dyslexia. This points them to what level of dyslexia knowledge and skills they should have for different roles and what CPD would be appropriate to build their skills. This can be used individually but also in the context of a school or group of schools to build an effective spread of skills within that setting.

· Schools should be required to evidence that they have the skills in their workforce necessary to meet the needs of dyslexic pupils.

· The education system requires teachers with appropriate training to carry out assessment for the purposes of recommending special arrangements for examinations. Schools should be required to fund the necessary training and provide space on the timetable for testing, to ensure that all eligible children get these provisions.

5.6 We are in total agreement that parents should be party to the decisions made about their child. Dyslexia Action believes a school should not be granted ‘outstanding’ status unless its SEN is classed as outstanding – criteria for which needs to be formulated.

We also recognise that not everybody falling behind will have SEN or require additional support and that it is important to differentiate those with SEN from those without. This is why it is so crucial that teachers are trained to identify dyslexia to ensure these children are not missed and they are aware of different interventions that can be utilised.

Conclusion

This Draft finally shows that Government is strongly recognising the need for ALL teachers in educational establishments including Early Years to be properly trained in identifying and appropriately assessing a diverse range of needs and that it is the responsibility of providers to ensure they plan staff training, development and support to ensure all teachers are able to meet the needs of individual children, make alternative, appropriate and adequate provision and be held accountable by Ofsted for such provision. Early years providers, school and colleges will thus need to ensure all children with dyslexia are identified and catered for.

The draft does not, as yet, give reassurance about the way that this will work, fairly, in practice through local offers, assessment procedures and criteria for establishing special needs, funding allocations, requirements to follow best practice and quality assurance standards.

April 2013

Prepared 26th April 2013