2013, what does it hold for us?
As we start this New Year it is clear that the work we do still needs to be done.
People need support to understand their dyslexia and manage it; educators, employers and policy makers need our help to get it right for people with dyslexia; and we need to continue to work hard to influence decision takers to make the best choices so that people with dyslexia can thrive. Our work goes on.
On the policy front there is a lot going on this year, in particular around changes to the education system. There is a real opportunity to get things ‘more right’ than it is so that all those with dyslexia get the right support from the place they should find it whether that is their school, academy, college etc. Most of this affects only England as the systems in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are different and already better embrace dyslexia. It’s now a chance for the English system to catch up. Alongside opportunities there are some real risks of these changes. If they are not thought through properly then the progress made over the last 20 years or so will be at risk, with a potential for moving backwards rather than forwards.
So what’s on government’s agenda this year?
The Children and Families Bill – positioned as an aspirational document to improve support for learner with special educational needs and/or a disability. The are many parts that are important about this bill, not least:
- A revised code of SEN practice
- Removal of school action and school action plus
- Revision to the national curriculum
- New assessments – Ebacc, spelling and grammar testing, phonics
- Reform to how schools are funded
We still continue to campaign for all teachers to be trained to support dyslexic leaners. This will benefit all our children.
We continue to help those who support people with dyslexia. We do this in a number of ways, most obviously with our training offer for teachers. This continues to be well respected, but it doesn’t reach enough teachers. Those who have attended say it really helps them develop how they do their job. We will be working on ways of getting this insight out to more people. We also have a number of exciting projects which should help develop understanding. We are working in Wales with 12 schools giving specialist teacher support to help those struggling with literacy, we will be working with 24 schools this year (and hopefully some more next year) helping them support children who are to transition from primary to secondary.
We are also beginning our project with the National Literacy Trust, where we bring a different kind of support we each give to provide something new and special around improving literacy. This latter project is supported by the international accountancy firm KPMG. We also continue to deliver our established programmes such as Partnership for Literacy (P4L) and Units of Sound (UofS), as well as support for employers and others.
The heritage of Dyslexia Action comes from working with individuals. We continue to reach thousands of children each year through our national network of centres. These centres do a terrific job of supporting children and adult understand their dyslexia and develop strategies to manage it. The feedback we have from parents whose children have benefited from these services is overwhelming, bring out real life examples of what we do – change people’s lives. We will keep on with this vital work, alongside development of a distanced learning approach so that we can reach more people.
Putting this down on paper brings home the busy agenda we have at Dyslexia Action this year. Time for me to stop writing and get on with it in that case!
Wish us good luck and have a great 2013!