Provision for dyslexics

Those of you who have been coming here looking for support with dyslexia after my blog on the programme ‘Don’t Call Me Stupid’ presented by Kara Tointon, (https://rossmountney.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/dont-call-me-stupid/) might be interested in the comment by Karen Rogers who works in a high school supporting dyslexic children. She says;

‘I work with children with dyslexia in a High School. (11 to 16 yr olds) We identify dyslexic pupils, rebuild battered self-esteem, teach individual multi-sensory programmes of reading, spelling and number.  We provide strategies for revision and readers, writers, prompts, lap-tops and additional time for assessments and exams. Training for all adults working in school helps to create a dyslexia friendly environment.

All of this is now in jeopardy, as a result of the latest Government funding cuts. As someone mentioned it is such false economy. Supported young people are better motivated, achieve and learn, develop positive learning confidence. Frustrated young people so often become disruptive and fail to achieve anywhere near their potential. Young lives are being wasted right under our noses. but no-one is listening. When they eventually realise, our Education system will have failed another generation of young people with dyslexia.’

As is held up by the stories here she is alarmingly right. What I find hard to stomach is the appalling discrepancy in provision for dyslexics in schools across the country because your stories in the comments following that blog clearly illustrate that what Karen’s team provides is certainly not the case in most schools. Karen works in a state school in Lancashire and also told me;

‘One of our students, who came to us at eleven with a real fear of failure and no confidence at all, will be going to York Uni to study English Literature. She came back to school last year when she was in Year12 to talk to our Parents’ Support Group and younger dyslexic children. We have lots of young people with similar stories, of whom we are very proud. I would have to say that what we do is far from perfect and we would like to be able to do so much more. However, we do the best we can with the resources we have, and will continue to do so regardless of funding cuts.’

So support is out there. It is just accessing it which is the problem. When I asked her how their school managed she said;

I think provision very much depends on Local Authority. In this area we have to recognise a learning difficulty, assess and test to find discrepancy and then use the resulting standardised scores to apply for funding…Other provision is made at the discretion of school leadership teams as SEN money within school budgets is not ring fenced. So basically, it comes down to the priorities of the head teacher, the number and quality of support staff and their rigour in fighting for funding for pupils. Very unfair system which lets down a great many children…but I know it is vital to keep fighting their corner.

It illustrates how important it is for individual parents to keep pressing their schools for better provision for children who have difficulties with their learning until an approach which is right for their child is found. Only by parents continuing to make a fuss will the government finally realise that their ‘one-size-fits-all’ provision is just not acceptable and we need a variety of different approaches for our variety of different children.

We also need the educational system to change their focus on testing and targets. Test results only show that they have managed to squeeze all our diverse and idiosyncratic children into a similar straight jacket. True education is not about making kids all the same. If we stopped busying ourselves with doing that we would have time and funds to properly educate to individual needs and overcome difficulties.

Parents need to stick together and barrage schools for support. Dyslexia and the sense of failure that can sometimes be felt when children cannot achieve prescriptive targets can create such a feeling of shame the problems are kept isolate and hidden. This is very convenient for the government! Only by shouting that we want these learning needs provided for – as schools are required to do – will anything change.

The current cuts are a good excuse for the government to narrow support provision. But there are far more time wasting activities which could be cut instead – like the testing and paperwork over loading our conscientious teachers. And it is parents – as they have the power of consumers – who can ultimately bring about change.

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