If you think that your child may have dyslexia or other specific learning difficulty, the first step should be to discuss his/her progress with the class teacher or tutor. If you feel that your child is not making adequate progress, we recommend contacting the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator [SENCo]. The SENCo will discuss your child’s performance and progress with class or subject teachers and provide you with an appraisal of the situation. This may reassure you that progress is being made and nothing additional or different is required.
If there is agreement that progress is not adequate, the SENCo will discuss with you the arrangements the school will make to support your child. Until September 2014 this type of support was known as ‘School Action’ or ‘School Action Plus’, and the support to be provided was documented in an ‘Individual Education Plan’ [IEP]. These categories have now been abolished and replaced with a single category called ‘SEN Support’, and children and young people will have been transferred to this new category by September 2015. The new SEND Code of Practice 2014 outlines a ‘graduated approach’ for SEN support.
Under this approach, all early years and education providers must continue to use their ‘best endeavours’ to meet the special educational needs of dyslexic children and ensure that they have the support they need. They are expected to follow a process being called ‘assess, plan, do, review’. The need for high quality teaching is emphasised.
Schools are required to keep records of individual children’s progress which explain how they are monitoring and evaluating any SEN support provided. However, it is left to schools to decide how they will do this. There is no specific requirement to use ‘individual education plans’.
Regardless of these changes, schools are still required to follow the Equality Act 2010 in meeting the needs of dyslexic children. This includes taking steps to proactively consider the needs of dyslexic children and young people, and making reasonable adjustments to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in their education. Schools should not wait until a dyslexic child is falling behind before additional support is provided.
In supporting children with special educational needs, schools and the local education authority have to take account of the SEN Code of Practice. Your child’s school will have its own SEN Policy. This will detail how the school will implement the Code. The SENCo may also arrange for the school to provide a dyslexia screening test [to identify the likelihood of dyslexia] and, in some cases, organise for the local education authority or independent consultant to provide a full diagnostic assessment. Additional dyslexia support may be offered within school hours.
It is reassuring that the awareness and understanding of dyslexia in schools has improved dramatically in recent years, and an increasing number of schools now have effective processes to identify and help learners with dyslexia from a young age. However, time, resources and budgets are increasingly stretched, and students who may be suffering from dyslexia can be overlooked by the system and not identified soon enough for effective remedial action to be taken before they enter adult life. Some schools provide excellent additional support for dyslexic pupils, but many do not have staff with the expertise to be able to devise and deliver the type of specialist help that a dyslexic learner needs to fulfil their potential.
If – for whatever reason – you don’t feel that the school is taking your concerns seriously enough, or is not providing the type or amount of support that you feel is appropriate, it may be that you would like a ‘second opinion’ regarding what is available to help your child learn more effectively, or to simply discuss your concerns with a qualified dyslexia specialist.
Dyslexia Lincs provides a confidential consultancy service for parents, and can advise on all aspects of identifying and overcoming dyslexia in young people from ages 7 to 18, working either in partnership with – or discreetly supplementing – support provided by the child’s school.
For more information about consultancy services please contact us.